On August 22-23, the Transfiguration Brotherhood, one of the largest informal communities of believers in the Russian Orthodox Church with a membership of about 2,000 people, celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The Brotherhood was founded in 1990 by Fr Georgy Kochetkov, the Rector of St Philaret’s Institute, just two years after he started the Institute. Supporting the Institute and promoting religious education is among the Brotherhood’s top ministry priorities to this day.
The celebration began on Saturday, August 22, when members of the Brotherhood from various cities in Russia and abroad arrived in Moscow. During the day, the Brotherhood’s communities in Moscow organised a cultural programme for their guests from other cities. This included city tours and excursions, visiting Moscow parks, museums, and churches. Members of the Brotherhood also met in homes to discuss issues of contemporary church life.
In the evening, friends and members of the Brotherhood from other cities gathered together in the chapel at St Philaret’s Institute for Vespers. Prayers were read not only in Russian but also in Romanian, Italian, and German.
The celebration continued on Sunday, with a liturgy in Christ the Saviour Cathedral led by Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuyevo, the Chair of the Synodal Department for Charity and Social Ministry. The spiritual father of the Transfiguration Brotherhood, Fr Georgy Kochetkov, as well as other brotherhood priests and friends of the Brotherhood concelebrated at the liturgy.
In his sermon on the Gospel reading about Christ and the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-26), Fr Georgy reminded us that the Christian way is a way of love and freedom.
“In man, the Lord wishes to see a free being, and not just a slave to his commandments. ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,’ the Apostle Paul tells us. And it was that spirit of freedom that needed to enter the soul of the pious and rich young man, so he could follow Christ and exceed the righteousness of the Old Covenant – the time before Christ. ‘Love your neighbour,’ the Scripture says, and the Lord knows that if a man opens his whole heart to God, he will also be open to other people. And vice versa, if a man is open to people, to his neighbour, then, sooner or later he will become open to God, acquire faith and trust in God’s word and deed,” said Fr Georgy.
The meeting continued with an agape meal at the Sokolniki Exhibition and Convention Centre. The participants exchanged words of joy and thanksgiving, best wishes and grateful memories of the past.
After the meal, the Transfiguration Symposium opened in the nearby pavilion of the Exhibition Centre. The audience was greeted by Dmitry Gasak, Chair of the Transfiguration Brotherhood, and Fr Georgy Kochetkov, who called the meeting “a convention of those who seek faith and trust”.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow sent his blessing and greetings to Fr Georgy and the members of the Brotherhood, and his message was delivered by Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuyevo. The Brotherhood was also greeted by Giovanni Bianchi – ex-President of the Christian Associations of Italian Workers (ACLI), the poet Olga Sedakova – member of the SFI (St. Philaret’s Institute) Board of Trustees, representatives of the Lord’s Army Orthodox movement in Romania, the Fraternity of Charles de Foucauld, and others.
The Transfiguration Brotherhood also received greetings from the Patriarchal Vicar of the Moscow diocese Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna, Nikita Struve, (Director of YMCA-Press), Archpriest Georgy Anoshkin (on behalf of the Besedniki community), Enzo Bianchi (Prior of the Monastic Community of Bose), Adriano Roccucci (Secretary General of the Community of Sant’Egidio), as well as other leaders of Orthodox and Catholic movements, clergymen, celebrities, friends and well-wishers.
At the plenary session, Fr Georgy Kochetkov, Rector of SFI, and Yulia Balakshina, Assistant Professor at SFI and the Herzen State Pedagogical University, made a joint presentation entitled “You are in our hearts, to die together and to live together (2 Cor 7:3): The Phenomenon of Brotherhood in the Orthodox Church”.
The Forum continued in twelve different venues, each dedicated to a particular aspect of church life and ministry: Mission and Catechesis, Theological Education, Liturgical Revival, Life in Community and Brotherhood, Experiences of the New Russian Martyrs and Confessors, Cultural and Social Initiatives in the Church, Christian Education and Churching for Children and Teenagers, Youth Ministry in the Church, and Christian Journalism.