In the early 1990s Xenia Dennen brought back from Moscow some spravki (reports) on some Russian Orthodox dioceses written by Sergei Filatov, a scholar from Moscow’s Oriental Institute, and showed them to Michael Bourdeaux, then director of Keston Institute.
These spravki formed the beginning of a major project to produce an Encyclopaedia about religious life in Russia today. Michael Bourdeaux found their contents fascinating and felt that here was an opportunity to make a detailed study of the religious situation in Russia which should not be missed, knowing from experience how quickly official attitudes towards religion could change and how open doors could suddenly slam shut.
Currently the Encyclopaedia is available only in Russian, although it is hoped eventually to publish an English version. The First Edition was compiled over a 12-year period, and eventually completed with the publication of a seventh and final volume in the autumn of 2008 (the volume was presented to the press and the academic world at the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice in Moscow on 14 January 2009). It was divided into two parts. Part I, in four Volumes, covered all the religious denominations existing in Russia. Part II, consisting of three Volumes, was a geographical survey covering all 78 administrative entities in the Russian Federation, studying the religious make-up on each oblast, krai and republic, listed in alphabetical order. Historical background was provided, as well as the latest information on each denomination's structure and activities, church-state relations, interdenominational relations and local intellectual life, with addresses, telephone numbers, websites and e-mail addresses listed whenever possible.
To take account of developments in Russia since the completion of the First Edition, work has begun on a Second Edition of Part II. This will ultimately be in seven volumes, of which three have so far been published - the first in 2014, the second in 2016 and the third in 2018.
In Part I, each denomination was studied under the following subject headings:
- organisational structure
- short history
- basic doctrines, current theological position
- number of members, churches
- geographical distribution
- national composition
- mass media outlets and publications
- educational institutions
- monasteries (where relevant)
- social and charitable bodies
- economic position
Volume 1 covers Orthodoxy (the Moscow Patriarchate, the Free Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the Catacomb or True Orthodox Church); Old Believers; Spiritual Christianity (Dukhobors , Molokans); Armenian Apostolic Church; Oriental Orthodox (Syrian); Catholic Church.
Volume 2 covers Protestant denominations: Anglicans; Lutherans; Reformed Church; Methodists; Baptists and Evangelical Christians; Plymouth Brethren; Pentecostals and Charismatics; Christian Scientists; Jehovah’s Witnesses; Mormons; The Church of Christ (Boston movement); Etika povedeniya (Behaviour Ethics).
Volumes 3 & 4 contain information on all non-Christian religions, for example, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Rerikh movement, the Vissarionovites, the White Brotherhood, paganism.
Research for the First Edition was carried out by a Russian team based in Moscow. For the work on the Second Edition of Part II, this team has been joined for much of its research by Keston's Chairman, who has travelled with the team to many places all over the Russian Federation. The team has carried out thousands of interviews, in addition to studying published sources, press articles, and secular and confessional reports. The project has been described as a work of social anthropology rather than a sociological study. When work on the Encyclopaedia began, it was the first time that such a piece of research had been carried out.
Printed editions of the encyclopaedia
Digital editions of the encyclopaedia
Copies of Part I, volumes 1-4 have been digitised by the Keston Center, Baylor University, and can be accessed via the following link:
Part II, volumes 1-3 have also been digitised by the Keston Center, and can be accessed via the following links:
Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of the new edition can be accessed via the links in the box at the top of this page on the right.
Field trip to Magadan in the Far East of Russia, June 2017
In 2004, Xenia Dennen gave a talk at a Keston colloquium at Regent’s Park College, Oxford (6th May). The text is available here.
2009 - Moscow book launch
(Left to right) Xenia Dennen, Sergei Filatov, Roman Lunkin, Olga Fadina, Anatoli Pchelintsev and Boris Knorre at the Moscow book launch
The final volume of Keston’s Encyclopaedia Religious Life in Russia Today was presented to the press and the academic world at the Slavic Centre for Law and Justice in Moscow on 14 January 2009. The Centre’s Director, Anatoli Pchelintsev, opened the proceedings by praising the work of the Encyclopaedia team, stressing the exceptional value of their fieldwork, and then presented Keston’s Chairman with an honorary doctorate ‘for an outstanding contribution to the establishing of civil society and the defence of freedom of conscience and religion’. About 40 people were present, including the religious correspondent of Izvestia who published an article about the Encyclopaedia on the following day. Olga Fadina, the publisher, expressed her delight at seeing her dream come true, adding that she hoped the Encyclopaedia would reach people in the Russian provinces. Professor Shaburov (Comparative Religion Department of the Russian State Humanities University), Professor Alexei Malashenko (Moscow Carnegie Centre), Bishop Künzel (Lutheran Church), Diane McKelvey (First Secretary, British Embassy), correspondents from Blagovest and Protestant, the editor of Ezhednevnyi zhurnal, Alexander Ignatenko (President of the Institute of Religion and Politics), Evgeni Rashkovsky (head of the religious literature section of the Library of Foreign Literature) and Professor Anatoli Krasikov (Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Society, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences) were among those present. Xenia Dennen chaired the meeting, starting with a brief speech, and handed over to Sergei Filatov, head of the Encyclopaedia team. Roman Lunkin then spoke followed by the publisher, Olga Fadina. Professor Anatoli Krasikov praised the Encyclopaedia in fulsome terms and Evgeni Rashkovsky described the Encyclopaedia as synchronised history where you could see Russia's spiritual history in action.
2012 - Launch of Encyclopaedia Team’s New Collection of Essays
Left to right (top table): Sergei Filatov, Roman Lunkin, Xenia Dennen and Boris Knorre at the Europe Institute, Moscow, when a new publication by the Encyclopaedia team was launched.
On Saturday 28 January 2012 a new collection of essays on the religious situation in Russia, edited by Sergei Filatov and entitled Religia i Rossiiskoe mnogoobrazie (Religion and Russian Diversity) was launched at the Europe Institute in Moscow.
Most of the essays in this collection have been written by members of Keston’s Encyclopaedia team apart from three contributions from other experts. The collection is composed of six sections: 1) “Religion, society and power in Russia”; 2) “Local government and religious believers; 3) “The ROC: diversity behind a monolithic mask”; 4) “The results of 20 years of freedom for minorities”; 5) “New religions, familiar ideas”; 6) “Views from outside”.
Keston’s chairman, Xenia Dennen, was present and spoke about the work of the team in which she had participated for the past 12 years. Sergei Filatov, head of the team, chaired the meeting, while Roman Lunkin outlined the immense variety of religious expression and affiliation as well as the complexity of the contemporary religious situation in Russia as presented in Religia i Rossiiskoe mnogoobrazie. Among those present at the launch were journalists from Blagovest-info, Ogonyok and Argumenty i fakty, as well as from a Christian radio station which filmed the proceedings and interviewed Xenia Dennen, Sergei Filatov and Roman Lunkin. Copies of the collection can be ordered from the publisher, Letnii Sad, email@example.com.
Encyclopaedia team in Elista (capital of Kalmykia), March 2015
Team in Galich, 500 km north-east of Moscow, on field trip to Kostroma oblast in January 2015
Field trip to Volgograd, January 2013: team in front of the bombed remains of a redbrick mill from the Battle of Stalingrad, preserved beside the local museum
The Encyclopaedia team in Siberia, June 2012 (Ulan-Ude, Buryatia)
Roman Lunkin, Xenia Dennen & Sergei Filatov in Ivanovo (300km north-east of Moscow) in June 2011
Roman Lunkin, Xenia Dennen & Sergei Filatov in front of the Annunciation Cathedral in Voronezh in January 2011
Roman Lunkin, Xenia Dennen & Sergei Filatov visit the Monastery of the Holy Mother of God, known as the Korennaya Pustyn 30 km from Kursk, during a fieldtrip in March 2010
The Encyclopaedia team (left to right) Roman Lunkin, Xenia Dennen, and Sergei Filatov in the St Nicholas Monastery on the edge of Rylsk, a small town 120 km west of Kursk in southern Russia, near the Ukrainian border (March 2010)
Russian chapters from the introductory book in the series
- Майкл Бурдо. Предисловие
(Перевод с английского Нины Беляковой).
- Лоуренс Юззелл. Проблема свободы религии в современнойРоссии
(Перевод с английского Нины Беляковой).
- Сергей Филатов, Роман Лункин. Православие по-поморски и по-новгородски.
- Сергей Филатов. Религиозная жизнь Поволжья. Прагматичное христианство.
- Сергей Филатов. Особенности религиозной жизни Карелии.
- Сергей Филатов. Евразийство и Религиозная жизнь Татарстана.
- Сергей Филатов. Религия и общество в Башкортостане.
- Сергей Филатов. Языческое возрождение – поволжская религиозная альтернатива.
- Сергей Филатов, Роман Лункин. Северный Кавказ: горские народы в поисках религиозной идентичности
- Сергей Филатов. Якутия перед религиозным выбором: шаманизм или христианство.
- Сергей Филатов, Лоуренс Юззелл. Хакасия. Сгусток религиозных проблем Сибири.
- Филип Уолтерс. Религия в Тыве
(Перевод с английского Нины Беляковой).
- Сергей Филатов. Алтайский Бурханизм.
- Людмила Воронцова, Сергей Филатов. Старообрядчество: в поисках потерянного града Китежа.
- Сергей Филатов, Людмила Воронцова. Католики и католицизм в России.
- Сергей Филатов. Феномен российского протестантизма.
- Сергей Филатов, Александра Стёпина. Российское лютеранство.
- Роман Лункин. Пятидесятники: новая формула возрождения христианства?
- Владимир Пореш. Русский буддизм, как это возможно?
- Роман Лункин. Нехристианские народы России перед лицом христианства.
- Сергей Филатов. Новые Религиозные движения –угроза или норма жизни?
- Роман Лункин, Сергей Филатов. Рерихианство: синтетическое мировоззрение или новая религия?
- Сергей Филатов. Послесловие. Религия в постсоветской России.
To discuss our work with the encyclopaedia, or for any other queries, please contact us.
Quick links to volumes of second edition of Part II so far published
Our regular journal, prepared by the Keston Encyclopaedia team of modern religious life.