12-19 of July in the Khabarovsk diocese a field study took place as part of the “Living Communities: Continued” project with the support of the Presidential Grants Fund.

Employees of the Sociology of Religion laboratory Kirill Markin and Tatyana Krikhtova took part in this trip.

Since the aim of the entire field work of the project is to identify patterns of development of parish communities in different regions of Russia, as well as the search for unique factors in their formation, the researchers focused on practices that unite parishioners both in everyday parish life and in social service.

Among the traditional areas of social work, scholars became acquainted with the activities of Sunday schools, hospital ministry, mutual aid chats, fundraisers, a humanitarian warehouse, clothing assistance to orphanages and people in villages, assistance to large families and the elderly.

Among the unique practices that have attracted the attention of researchers, it is worth mentioning the tradition of “Lilies for the Virgin Mary,” which united the parishioners of the Uspeniya Cathedral in the improvement of the temple area: together they plant flower bulbs.

Another discovery was the online meetings with representatives of Orthodox diaspora, held in the church in honor of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Gracious Sky. Meetings are held primarily with parishes in Japan and China.

Observations from this expedition expanded the understanding of researchers. From now on the communal meals for everyone, the presence of a children’s room, Sunday school classes for adults and courses in the Church Slavonic language are recognized as practices that help strengthen the parish community, develop local identity and a sense of belonging to the community.

Additionally, another important initiative was spotted: the conduct of public conversations by the laity. Participation of parishioners in the process related directly to the Sacrament, involvement in preparing for a competent conversation and delegation of this important task to non-clergy helps to provoke individual sense of involvement in an important activity and responsibility for the parish community.

In conclusion, it is also worth noting the general trend towards the professionalization of activities carried out around parishes – increasingly the laity are becoming the executors of implemented parish practices, for whom such activities become a full-time job.

In September 2023, the Khabarovsk diocese will host the practical part of the project “Living Communities: Continued”: the executive director of the Living Tradition Foundation, Alexander Viktorovich Savvin, will hold a two-day workshop dedicated to writing grant applications and the features of specialized funds, as well as an analysis of issues in the preparation of key sections of applications such as calendar plan, outlay, etc.