September 11, 2012
Howell, NJ: A Concert was held in "Rodina" Russian House in Honor of the 200th Anniversary of Russia’s Victory in the Patriotic War of 1812

On Saturday, September 8, "Rodina" Russian House in Howell, NJ held a concert in honor of the 200th anniversary of Russia’s victory in the Patriotic War of 1812.

The recently opened Russian House is the ideological successor to the "Rodina" Russian Cultural Society, founded in 1954 and located in the same building. The Society played a significant role in the social life and benevolent functions of church society: within its hall were held theatrical productions, presentations by famous musicians, an art studio, a sports club, "youth circles," and much more. The administration of the new "Rodina" center, which opened its doors in May 2012, plans to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor and, in the words of the center’s director, Alexander Bondarev, hopes with time to become a binding force for Russian Orthodox Christians in the United States: "To be Russian means to be Orthodox, to know one’s culture, and to speak Russian. Here it’s all one thing, and we are obliged to help one another. Here people can interact, even those who are not Orthodox, and become involved in Russian culture; and, what's more, across the street is the church. And we will, of course, invite everyone to church following all of our cultural events."

Present at the concert was the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, who was visiting the center for the first time, and was met with bread and salt by Mr. Bondarev. The last First Hierarch to officially visit an event at the center was Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky) in the 1950s. "We are grateful that fate so ordained that we would open ‘Rodina’ and would be immediately visited by the First Hierarch," said Bondarev.

The visit by Metropolitan Hilarion bears witness to the restoration of good relations between "Rodina" and the Church. Relations were strained for many years, owing to mutual misunderstandings.

"Glory to God, this is now in the past," commented diocesan secretary Archpriest Serge Lukianov. "The administration of ‘Rodina’ is working closely with the Diocese, and now we can open a new page in our shared history, founded on mutual respect and our shared love for the Church. The presence of the First Hierarch at this event is a testament to our common desire to unite Orthodox Christians in America."

Prior to the beginning of the concert, His Eminence greeted and congratulated all those present with the 200th anniversary of Russia’s 1812 victory. The Metropolitan also called on the administration of "Rodina" to continue its important work preserving Russian culture abroad.

Included in the concert’s program were pieces sung by a choir, a ballet performance, poetry readings and a theatrical presentation, accented by outtakes from the Russian film "War & Peace." The concert was produced by Vyacheslav Motsardo.

The center’s museum was also open to visitors, and housed a unique exhibit of historic artifacts from the War of 1812. Many of the displays at the exhibit were given on loan by the nearby Kuban Cossack Museum in Howell. Ataman Alexander Pewnew and representatives of the Kuban Cossack Voisko Abroad were also present at the event.

The celebrations that day ended with a festal Vigil at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, located across the street from "Rodina" Russian House.

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