On 24 February 2015, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia chaired a common session of the Presidential working group for preparation of the events dedicated to the commemoration of St. Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles, the Baptizer of Russia, and the Board of Trustees of the St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University (PSTGU).
Among those participating in the session, which took place at the Moscow diocesan house, were Alexander Beglov, head of the working group and presidential envoy to the Central Federal District; Mr. Vladimir Medinsky, Russian Minister of Culture; Mr. Vladimir Resin, deputy of the State Duma and Patriarchal advisor on construction works.
The Russian Orthodox Church was represented by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations (DECR), head of the working group of the Organizing Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church for celebration of the 1000th anniversary of St. Vladimir’s demise; Archbishop Mark of Yegorievsk, chairman of the Finance and Economic Administration; Bishop Sergy of Solnechnogorsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Administrative Secretariat; archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the Synodal Committee on Church-Society Relations; archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), executive secretary of the Patriarchal Council for Culture; Vladimir Legoida, chairman of the Synodal Information Department; archpriest Vladimir Vorobiev, rector of the PSTGU; archimandrite Savva (Tutunov) deputy chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate; and archpriest Andrei Milkin, head of the Patriarchal protocol service.
Before the session, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and the participants went round the Moscow diocesan house currently under reconstruction and the Church of St. Vladimir with the Council Chamber where the sessions of the Local Council of 1917-18 took place.
In his introductory address the Primate of the Russian Church noted the tasks of preparation for the festive events dedicated to the commemoration of St. Vladimir.
This event does not just mark a memorable date in the church and secular calendar, but bring us back to the sources of our civilization, as the isolated feuding tribes have come out from the baptismal font as one nation, His Holiness underscored and continued to say:
‘This event is outside the framework of a church event and has a nationwide importance. St. Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles can be seen a foundation on which consolidation is possible in our difficult time, and we must use this opportunity. All planned commemorative events should in the first place disclose the spiritual sense of the celebration.’
His Holiness said that the commemorative events will be held in the entire canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, including Ukraine and Belarus and made known an agenda.
Speaking at the session were Mr. Beglov, Mr. Resin, Minister Medinsky and Metropolitan Hilarion who said in his report that in view of the current events the veneration of St. Prince Vladimir, common ancestor of all people of Holy Rus’, has a particular importance not only for Russian, but also for Ukraine and Belarus, as well as for the consolidation of our Eastern Slavic civilization which has shaped after the Baptism of Russia.
Metropolitan Hilarion noted that elaboration of the church programme of festivities demands a coordinated work of different church bodies and close cooperation with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Byelorussian Exarchate. He added that interaction is bringing its fruits.
For instance, the Byelorussian Exarchate has up an Organizing Committee, while the Byelorussian Council of Ministers – the Republican Organizing Committee for preparation and carrying out of memorial events dedicated to the 1000th anniversary of St. Vladimir’s demise.
‘Dramatic events in Ukraine do not work for the elaboration of the common Russian-Ukrainian programme of festivities, – the DECR chairman said. – Anyway, last September our Ukrainian bothers took part in the work of the Organizing Committee and contributed to the plan of the church-wide commemorative events. I am confident that the current difficulties underline the importance of common celebration of the jubilee of the founder of our common statehood.’
The Organizing Committee of the Russian Orthodox Church cooperates on continuous basis with the Presidential working group and elaborated a plan of events after taking proposals of the working group into account, Metropolitan Hilarion said and added that certain items of the plan have been realized.
The opening of the Moscow diocesan house with its library, museum, and classrooms and administrative premises of the PSTGU will be a key event of the celebrations.