Russia Mission

A Conversation with Father Vladimir & PCUSA Mission CoWorker Ellen Smith

Wednesday, September 30 7:30 – 8:15 PM
Since 2010, First Pres has an active mission partnership with the Russian Orthodox Parish in Davydovo, Russia. First Pres supports the work of this small orthodox parish north of Moscow, particularly their program for children with special needs and their families. Each summer, this small parish, led by Father Vladimir, runs a series of residential camps for disabled children and their families, offering respite care for parents, and assistance programs for the children. Children come to Davydovo from all across Russia, and from other places in Europe, too to benefit from the deep and compassionate care offered by this parish. On Wednesday, September 30, Father Vladimir comes to First Pres to offer his deep thanks and appreciation for the generosity and support of our global
mission partnership. He will be joined by PCUSA Mission Co-Worker Ellen Smith who coordinates congregational twinning programs like ours across Russia. The gift from First Pres has enabled the transformation of a once useless building into a center for the care of special children and their families, and, importantly, forged a bond between a Russian Orthodox Parish and First Presbyterian Church.

On Wednesday, September 30th, Father Vladimir and PCUSA Mission Co-Worker Ellen Smith will be at Wednesday@First Dinner at 6:00 p.m. for conversation and a chance to share experiences, and then following Worship, will speak briefly in Monteith Hall.

Russia Mission Team 2015

After our team’s trip to Davydovo, Russia, to serve in the church camp for children with disabilities, the Russia Mission Team has decided to make 2015 a year of education. Through a series of events planned to begin in February, we will continue efforts to get to know Russia and its people. We hope to hear once again from those who spoke at the Russian Mission Network Conference in August, to enjoy Russian food, and to engage our friends from St. Vladimir Russian Orthodox Church. As yet we have enjoyed only a sample of what our two congregations can offer to one another through musical events, presentations, and shared meals (including the cooking itself!). Although our team will wait until 2016 to return to Davydovo, we hope to support our brothers and sisters at St. Vladimir as they prepare to send a team to Russia, including youth, in the summer of 2015.

About the Russia Mission Team

The Russian Mission Team was established in February 2012, after an exploratory trip to Russia in October 2011. The trip was funded in part by a grant from the Jeane Seeley Mission Fund. Our group of five, accompanied by Ellen Smith, Presbyterian Mission Co-Worker, spent some time in Moscow, but we also visited Davydovo, a small village in the Yarolslavl region, about a three-hour train ride northeast of Moscow.

This past fall, thanks to another Jeane Seeley grant, Fr. Vladimir and Ellen traveled to Ann Arbor in order to see models for the kind of center Fr. Vladimir envisions for his church community as they serve children with disabilities, their parents, and at-risk teenage boys. Our congregation's Christmas Eve 2012 offering was designated for the ministry at Davydovo.

Russia Mission Trip - July 2014

A group of six volunteers (five from First Pres) recently traveled to the small village of Davidovo, Russia, to meet Father Vladimir, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church. This was the next step in developing a deeper relationship with the church there. While there we were privileged to be able to participate in a camp that Father Vladimir runs for disabled youth and to attend worship services and learn about the life of the village.

Some of our activities while in Russia included sharing crafts with the campers, working in the dining hall preparing food, trying some of the traditional games with the campers, learning about the history of the Russian Orthodox Church, and holding our own devotions as we processed our experiences. We came away from our time there aware of the great need for help for disabled children and aware that what Father Vladimir is doing is good indeed. It is our hope that our church can continue to assist and be a part of the revitalization of the village.