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Inside view of Russia

02 November 2006

THERE IS nothing like a year's chaplaincy in the diocese in Euro to provide insights beneath the obvious attractions of a tourisdestination. Canon Guy and Mary Smith, a retired priest and his wife, whnormally live in the Worcester diocese, are spending a year in St Petersburgwhere the snow has now disappeared in time for the short season of tour buseand cruise ships.

Writing in the Worcester Diocesan News, he tells how, behind thpalaces, art, and ballet, there is racial violence against black students"street kids high on drugs; corruption in both high and low places; gridlockestreets; the occasional dead body in the road; and Christian disunity".

The established Orthodox Church regards all other Christians as not of thtrue faith, though Canon Smith says he has made a breakthrough with the locaparish, is invited to great festivals, and has even robed and sung the Gospein English in a village church. His own chaplaincy congregation includes tenationalities, and only ten per cent are Anglican. They hold their services aguests of the Swedish Lutherans, who only recently got their church back afteit had been used as a women's gym for 40 years.

The fine Art Deco Anglican church, which could seat 500, is in such a bastate of repair as to be unusable, and would need 3 million to repair, aimpossible dream for a chaplaincy that - like all those in Europe - has to bself-supporting. Despite everything, however, Canon Smith says that it iturning out to be a fabulous experienc

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