Russia is know throughout the world for the Russian Orthodox Church, and its beauty, its music, and its unique architecture, especially that of its ancient churches. In the years right before the Communist Revolution, there were nearly 86,000 churches and chapels, and more than one thousand monasteries throughout the Russian Empire. Under Communism, almost all of these were destroyed, with the number of churches falling to fewer than 500. Between 14 and 22 million Christians perished in the most horrific Christian persecution in recorded history.
However, now with the dissolution of Communism and the freedom of religious worship strongly guarded in the Russian Federation, the rebuilding of old churches and the planting of new ones has been swift and met with great desire and enthusiasm. The count of churches in Russia is nearing 40,000 and the average rate of construction starts across the country numbers about two to three new churches per week.
Moscow has its own program, called “200”, which is purposed to build at least 200 new churches, each accomodating at least 500 worshippers in a service. In 2017, 24 new churches were completed, and this year 21 more are expected to be complete. At this time, there are 231 parishes involved in the 200 program.
State Duma Deputy Vladimir Resin, the curator of the church building program… [said that], among the most notable sites [are] the Church of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God in Chertanovo, the Church of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Strogino, the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Khovrino, the Church of Princess St. Olga in Ostankino, the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Tushina, the Church of Andrei Rublev in Ramenki, and the Church of the Meeting of the Lord in Zhulebino.
The main objective of the program is to build enough new churches throughout the capital so that there is always one within walking distance in the residential areas. The program has been actively underway since 2011, with a plan of building 200 churches. The program runs entirely on the donations of citizens and organizations. A foundation established for collecting funds is co-chaired by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.