The Lake Peipsi area



The Folk Culture Centre

The Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA)


The Society of Culture and Development of Old Believers in Tartu region

Pavel Grigoryevitch and Pavel Petrovitch Varunin were the initiators of founding the Society of Culture and development of Old Believers on July 9, 1998.

The main purpose and tasks are evident from its name. One of the mail task of the Society is to revive the forgotten traditions of Old Believers in Prichudie (The region of Chudskoye Lake).

The Society started its activity with the preparation of the patronial feast of Assumption of Virgin in Kallastee (The Red Hills). The tradition of joint sermons of all communities in Estonia on the patronial feast in one of the Prichudie worship houses started in 1940. The celebration of Assumption in Kallaste took place on August 29, 1998. Parishers of all 11 communities of Estonia came to celebrate it. Among the guests there were the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education. The Government of Estonia donated Kallaste a flag and a coat of arms. During the celebration the flag was consecrated by the elder father Benedict Davidovitch Selgitsky, Chair of the Ecclestiastical Committee. The events in Kallaste were highlighted by the local TV and press.

Among the activities of the Society in 1998 there were spreading of Old Believers' and spiritual literature and organizing correspondence with the children abroad having the same faith. In the beginning of 1999 a wonderful tradition of hristoslavy (glorifying of Christ) has been revived in Kallaste. The Society organized publishing the certificates of baptising for Estonian parishes and assisted in getting the text-books for religion classes. The Society strenghtened the contacts with researchers and scientists dealing with the phenomenon of Old Believers which was a great help for reviving the life in the Prichudie region. To hold the high level at community and ecclestiastic life which was reached during the celebration in Kallaste and due to the activity of the Society it was taken the decision to organise the celebration of apostles Peter and Paul on Piirisaar island. On July 11, 1999 inhabitants of the island were receiving representatives of all parishes in Estonia, guests from Riga (Grebenschikov community,scientists from Moscow and Estonia, public figures and journalists. Feast organised by the Society was highlighted in local and foreign press, as well as filmed in a documentary made by an Estonian director Peeter Siim.

One of the greatest success of the Society was the publishing of a leaflet, called `Russian Old Believers in Estonia`, printed with the support of Netherlands MATRA-KAP Program for Estonia, which was the first printed matter of Old Believers since 1940.

By the end of 1999 the Society organised teaching of church-slavic language in the worship house of Kallaste which is successfully continued. The next event in 2000 was the international conference `Russian Old Believers Abroad`.The conference was summoned by united efforts of the Society and Tartu University, Chair of the Russian Language. Among the invited were local Old Beleivers, scientists from Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Poland and Germany. Conference papers were published in the preceedings of Tartu University. It was the first conference where scientists helped Old Believers to become aware of their value and position in Russian culture. In order to revive old traditions, the society organised the next feast, the 70th anniversary of Mustvee worship house and the Trinity celebration for all Estonian parishes in Mustvee (Chernyi Posad).

There were numerous guests at the feast and among them was Sergei Rudaka, the editor-in-chief of Nizhniy Novgorod newspaper `Old Believer`. His visits to Prichudie have become a new tradition. Society Prichudie took an initiative to invite professor Richard Morris from University of Oregon State who was the member of numerous expeditions to Old Believers' settlements in Russia and America. Profesor Richard Morris delivered a lecture with demonstratin of film for the parishioners of Kallaste and visited all the communities in Prichudie.

The Society took up the serious problem of robbery in worship houses. By the end of 2000 it could have partly been solved it on the territory of some parishes. in the beginning of 2001 the Society started to prepare for celebration of the 70th anniversary of Tallinn community. Taking into account its brotherly relations with Old Believers in Latvia, the Choir of A.F. Karatayev from Riga Bogoyavlenskaya Parish was invited to the feast. January celebration was ended with common dinner and discussion of Old Believers' problem in Estonia and Latvia. Among the ardent problems the reviving of krukuvuye chant (chant by the signs, an ancient form of Russian chant which due to death of its last connoisseurs is under threat of disappearance).

In this connection in April 2000 there was invited the choir `Resurrection` from Daugavpils (Latvia) which was directed by father Alexiy Nicolayevitch Zhilko, the Chairman of Central Committee of Latvian Old Orthodox Church. The Choir `Resurrection` has given concerts in all Estonian parishes. Culmination point of the choir visit was a concert in the White Hall in Dome Cathedral in Tartu.

At present thanks to support of Netherlands MATRA-KAP Program forEstonia, the Society could make the site of Old Believers in Internet.