Feeding the Hungry in Moscow

Brotherhood of St. Seraphim

“Everyday a crowd lines up at 1 PM sharp in the backyard of the Sts. Peter and Paul Church on Novaya Basmanaya Street. Women and children are passed to the front. Those in line don’t quarrel and they don’t ask for much, just food. The volunteers who serve them take out enormous pots full of porridge. As a rule buckwheat is poured with sunflower oil and mixed with canned beef. On days when cereal is low, lentils are added with rice and beans. In the winter, there is coffee or tea, in summer it’s dehydrated juice mixed with water…”

(from a report in Izvestia)

Behind every meal is the Brotherhood of St. Seraphim, founded in March 1996 at St. Catherine’s Church in Moscow, a parish representing the Orthodox Church in America. Those served are the homeless, pensioners, street children, released prisoners and anyone else who came for help. The founders, Daniel Ogan and Alexander Kozhamyakin, wanted to help revive the flourishing charity work of the Orthodox Church before the Revolution. Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, near Kazansky Railway Station, offered space to cook, store clothes and maintain an office.

The Brotherhood is registered as the Center for Humanitarian Aid. Namrud Nagash, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, is director. The Moscow Patriarchate, local parishes and various monasteries in the area send people in need as well as volunteers. Several volunteers have converted to the Orthodox faith through their work with the homeless.

The program feeds up to 200 people a day. Volunteers and staff also distribute clothing and other items and provide the homeless with support and advice. Occasionally, stranded travelers are helped with a train ticket. A newspaper — Est Vykhod! (A Way Out) — has been started to inform the public of the plight of the homeless, at the same time providing the homeless with a way to earn money selling the paper.

Contact International, a Christian organization in England, donated a bus. Support has come from such organizations as the Phos Mission in Chicago, the American Women’s Club, the International Women’s Club, Action for Russia’s Children, Orthodox parishes in the USA and individuals in Russia, Britain and the USA.

The Brotherhood is represented in the USA by St. Timothy Antiochian Orthodox Church, Box 795, Lompoc, CA 93428. The Brotherhood has the blessing of Metropolitan Philip and Metropolitan Theodosius.

–Jim Vail

Tax-exempt donations can be sent via Phos Mission – Phosadelphia, attn: Katherine Valone, 10716 S. La Crosse Ave., Oak Lawn, IL 60453; tel. (708) 425-4422.