Voices from Russia

Sunday, 28 April 2013

St Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Surrey BC: “An Island Amongst Sinners”

00 Rev Mykhaylo Pozdyk. St Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Surrey BC. 28.04.13


A half-dozen years ago, bullets flew into the walls of St Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Surrey BC (part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District). That should tell you all that you need to know about the crime, drugs, homelessness, and squalor that surround the church’s gold-coloured dome in Whalley. Rev Mykhaylo Pozdyk said, “We’re like an island amongst sinners. The picture isn’t good, but we’re proud to be here to be God’s witness”. Although he said that dying in the church would be a “great honour”, it was fortunate that no one was around at the time of the drug-­related shooting spree.

The church is on 135A Street, in a two-block section that’s generally-considered Surrey’s worst stretch of pavement. When Ukrainian immigrants chose the spot for the church 50 years ago, the town centre was thriving. Today, the building’s white walls and blue-painted trim stand apart from nearby vacant lots and rundown buildings. Fr Mykhaylo said that the street people in the neighbourhood are friendly for the most part, but thefts occur and church property is sometimes destroyed, noting, “People ask for money but they usually don’t want food”.

As difficult as life is for the disadvantaged in downtown Whalley, Pozdyk saw much worse under Soviet rule in the Ukraine, where he lived until moving to Canada in 1996. He said, “Here we have more respect and value for people. Canada’s a rich country with many government programmes to help them”. He went on to say that churches were shut down for several generations in his homeland and KGB agents lurked in every village and organisation, observing, “Communists denied God’s existence”. Pozdyk was secretly married in a church in 1987 at the beginning of Mikhail Gorbachyov’s period of thaw. Ukrainian people flocked to the churches when the doors opened after independence in 1991.

He stated that the churches there aren’t as well attended now because people chase after the same material goals as they do in the West, saying, “As soon as you sign a mortgage, you’re a slave to the mortgage. You have no time for God”. Although Pozdyk has bought a house here, and smiles about it, he remains faithful to his spiritual duties, telling us, “We’re temporary in this world… pilgrims. Freedom you can only find in God. We ­glorify God for everything we have in this life. We say ‘thank you’ for the forgiveness of our sins. I’m still a sinner and I’m trying my best to grow ­spiritually”.


What’s your congregation’s religion?

Our congregation is part of One Holy Orthodox-Catholic and Apostolic Church.

What would you put in a tweet? 

We’re blessed to worship in this beautiful little church that’s on the City of Surrey Heritage Register. We welcome everyone, and we’ll treat you as best as we can.

How many people attend services?

40 to 70

What’s traditional?

Our worship is Liturgical, Eucharistic, and Jesus-centred.

What’s modern?

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

What’s the most beautiful thing about your church?

Praising God and worshipping Him in spirit and truth together with all the people who come here and have hope that all their names will be written in the Book of Life.

Give us your sense of what’s happening in the area around the church.

Hard-working people who were busy with supporting their families built this church between 1950 and 1955. At the same time, they worked hard to build a new place of worship. At that time, it was a good area. Now, the church finds itself on one of the poorest streets in town.

26 April 2013

Kent Spencer

The Province



Sunday, 31 March 2013

United Russia to Gorbachyov: We Lost Our Country Due to the Previous Perestroika



The leadership of United Russia doesn’t share the opinion of former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachyov about the need to resume perestroika. On Sunday, Sergei Neverov, secretary of the General Council of United Russia told the press commenting on Gorbachyov’s Saturday statement, “Mikhail Gorbachyov already initiated one perestroika. As a result, we lost the country”. He also disagreed with Gorbachyov’s evaluation of current Russian policy, saying, “It’s precisely this policy that helped us to preserve the state, tackle the problem of poverty, and stop criminal elements from coming to power… the consequences for Russia of the policy pursued by Gorbachyov”. He said that the majority of the population supports the actions of the government and president, noting, “This is the best proof of the correctness of the chosen policy”. Gorbachyov thinks that Russia should restart perestroika, saying in an open lecture in Moscow on Saturday, “We reached a stage when perestroika was interrupted. Increasingly, politics became play-acting. We need a new system of governing the country. We need real elections, not pretend elections. Health protection, education, and science arouse great concern”.

31 March 2013

Voice of Russia World Service


Friday, 22 June 2012

Sunday, 21 August 2011

VOR Presents… In Memory of August ‘91

Mourners held a service to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the defeat of the coup attempt by the defenders of the “White House” on Krasnaya Presnya Embankment. The participants marched on the Novy Arbat to the memorial in honour of the defenders of democracy who died in August 1991.


On the night of 21 August 1991, in an underground tunnel at the intersection of the Kalinin Prospekt (now, Novy Arbat) and the Garden Ring, armoured vehicles manned by troops loyal to the coup committee killed three civilians, Dmitri Komar, Vladimir Usov and Ilya Krichevsky.


A memorial was erected above the Novy Arbat tunnel to honour the dead.


Mourners laid flowers at the memorial on the anniversary of the August events.


The authorities awarded the title of “Hero of the Soviet Union” to the three men killed in the incident.


Fr Vsevolod Chaplin served a Pannikhida at the memorial {Dmitri Komar was Jewish; note the guy in the yarmulke at the right: editor}.


The burial of Dmitri Komar, Ilya Krichevsky, and Vladimir Usov was at the Vagankovskoye cemetery in Moscow on 22 August 1991; the authorities declared it a day of mourning for the fallen defenders of the White House.


21 August 2011

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

One of the things that I remember from viewing the funeral ceremony for the Three Young Men was that Orthodox priests were at the front of the procession, and Jewish rabbis followed them. That’s as it should be. All the rightwing phonies can caterwaul, as they will… one of the dead was Jewish, and that’s that. That’s not ecumenism… its simple human decency. If we forget that, we may as well take a torch and burn down the local church building… it’d be more honest than being hypocrites…


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