In February 2024, the “Living Communities” project research team delivered a series of final presentations of the results to study participants.

The final presentation is based on empirical materials for the period of 2021-2024, from 10 regions, 13 dioceses and 57 parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church. First, the audience was introduced with sociological data followed by the research question of the motives for church attendance among the Russian population. This thematic focus made it possible to clearly reveal the importance of the balance between inner community practices and social work: for effective activities directed beyond the church fence, it is necessary to secure practices and activities that develop parish belonging and an individual sense of “one’s place”.

Several empirical examples of such practices were followed by three strategies for maintenance of ‘living’ community. In the previous stage of the research in 2021-2022 three types of parishes were identified: ‘closed’, ‘blurred’ and a ‘living’ one. In the next stage of 2023-2024, the researchers more fully described the concept of a ‘living’ parish and suggested three ways of action to contribute to the development of the local community.

The first presentation took place on 5.February in Pereslavl-Zalessky, where researchers Daria Oreshina and Polina Vrublevskaya gave a presentation in the Archondarik cafe of the Holy Trinity St. Danilov Monastery. The results of the study provoked a lively discussion: the questions from the audience touched upon the topics of parishes’ self-sufficiency and self-organization potential, the differences between urban and rural parishes, ways to resolve internal conflicts, issues of initiative, etc.

The second meeting took place in Rybinsk with the participation of the head of the Department of Religious Education and Catechesis of the Rybinsk Diocese, Archpriest Dionisy Rastopchin. The project results were presented by researchers Tatyana Krikhtova and Elena Pavlyutkina. The participants spent time discussing the issue of the involvement of the priest in the life of the community and its resources, examples of ‘living’ and ‘non-living’ communities, the role of the laity as a driver of activity, as well as regional characteristics.

The third presentation took place on 20.February online for participants from Rossosh. The meeting was conducted by Tatyana Krikhtova with the participation of the head of the department for charity and social service of the Rossoshan diocese, Priest Konstantin Lutskevich.

The fourth and fifth meetings took place on 21.February. Researchers Kirill Markin and Elena Prutskova presented the results of the research project in Khabarovsk, while Valeria Elagina and Ivan Zabaev gave a presentation in Tomsk. The presentation in Khabarovsk took place at the Khabarovsk Theological Seminary with the participation of the head of the Social Department of the Khabarovsk Diocese, Priest Nikolai Vorozhbit. In Tomsk, the meeting took place in a conference hall on the territory of the Mother of God Alekseevsky Monastery with the participation of the chairman of the Tomsk Diocese Department for Social Service and Church Charity, Archpriest Nikolai Abramov. The researchers’ visit to Tomsk was not limited to the final presentation: additionally, there have been discussions with the leaders of the parish projects from two communities about possible ways of cooperation, and additional interviews were conducted to develop a more detailed strategy for maintaining the diversity of parish life.

The final meeting in Tara was held online in the presence of the Chairman of the Department for Church Charity and Social Ministry, Priest Mikhail Safichuk. The results of the study were presented by researchers Polina Vrublevskaya and Elena Prutskova.

The “Living Communities: Continued” research project is being implemented with the support of the Presidential Grants Fund.