In September 2016, I spent two weeks in Russia. It was the first time I had been in Russia without traveling to Siberia, and I must admit that created a good deal of nostalgia for Russia's "Wild East."
While in Moscow, I was an invited lecturer for a seminar at the Center for the History of Religion and the Church at the Russian Academy of Sciences. I spoke on oral history as a window into the everyday faith of Protestant women in Soviet Siberia, and the discussion with the small group of scholars around the table was highly engaging. I also had the privilege of sitting on a roundtable panel with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church (including priests and staff of the Moscow Patriarchate's division of External Affairs) at the Aleksandr Men' conference in Semkhoz (Sergiev Posad). The topic of my particular contribution to that panel was the book An Inner Step toward God, a translation of Father Aleksandr's writings and reflections on prayer that I edited in 2014 (for more on that book, click on the "Publications" tab above and click on the link for that book). This annual conference is held every year on the anniversary of Father Aleksandr Men's tragic death on September 9, 1990. A few days later, I was one of several speakers at an "evening of remembrance" in honor of Fr. Aleksandr. When I arrived at the event, I was delighted to see several familiar faces, including Pavel Men' and Wallace Daniel. Daniel is the author of the latest biography of Fr. Aleksandr. A book review I have written on Daniel's book will soon be published in Theo Stavrou's Modern Greek Studies Yearbook.
From Moscow, I traveled on to Saint Petersburg, where I conducted four days of research in a fascinating archive at the State Museum of the History of Religion. The archive was originally established by Vladimir Bonch-Bruevich (Lenin's former secretary) as the State Museum of the History of Atheism and Religion. Its collection includes many documents confiscated from religious believers in the Soviet period, and I was delighted to discover several documents that will further illuminate the everyday lives of the evangelical women I am studying.
In the midst of this time in Russia, I realized that two weeks is just too short a time to visit, when various lectures and archival research is on the agenda. Fortunately, I did still have time to sneak in some short visits with several dear friends in Moscow and St. Pete.