Diocese of Birobidzhan and Kuldur

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Diocese of Birobidzhan and Kuldur
Биробиджанская и Кульдурская епархия
Annunciation Cathedral in Birobidzhan.jpg
Annunciation Cathedral
Country Russia
Territory Jewish Autonomous Region
Subdivisions 3 deaneries
Area 36,266 km2 (14,002 sq mi)
- Total
(as of 2010)
Parishes 48
Established October 7, 2002
Cathedral Anunciation Cathedral
Current leadership
Archbishop Joseph (Balabanov)
Map of Russia - Jewish Autonomous Oblast (2008-03).svg
Diocese of Birobidzhan and Kuldur
Saint Nicholas Church (Birobidzhan)
Temple of the Holy Martyrs Faith, Hope and Charity (Valdheim)

Diocese of Birobidzhan and Kuldur (Биробиджанская и Кульдурская епархия) — is a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate. The diocese operates churchers within the borders of the Jewish Autonomous Region which borders with the Republic of China on the south, with Amur Oblast on the West and with Khabarovsk Krai on the North-East.

The cathedral church and the official seat of a diocesan bishop are located in the city of Birobidzhan.

General information[edit]

Birobidzhan diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church (centralized religious organization headed by Moscow Patriarchate) was founded by the resolution of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on October 7, 2002. Bishop of the Birobidzhan diocese is Joseph (Balabanov) (appointed by the decree of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II of October 7, 2002).


History of the region[edit]

Development of the Far East of Russia began far in the first half of the 17th century. The first dwellers of the present territory of the JAR were Cossack troops, headed by such famous personalities as Vassili Poyarkov, Yerofey Khabarov and many others. Since 1854 Cossacks began actively spread their invasion of the left bank of the Amur River under the leadership of the governor-general of Eastern Siberia, Count Nikolay Muravyov-Amursky. May 16, 1858 in accordance with the Aigun treaty left bank of the Amur River up to the mouth of the sea retreated to Russia and right bank up to the Ussuri River to China. According to the treaty Russia had 600,000 km2: part of the modern Chita Oblast, Sakha Republic, Khabarovsk Krai, Amur Oblast, Jewish Autonomous Oblast and Magadan Oblast. The famous Aigun treaty of 1858 is still the legal justification of belonging to large areas of modern Russian Far Eastern Federal District. After the Outer Manchuria basin belonged to Russia Governor-General of Eastern Siberia, N. N. Muravyov, had receives the title of count and the prefix Amursky. In 1856, at the entrance of the Amur to the Lesser Khingan was placed Khingansky post which in 1857 was turned into the village of Pashkovskaya, and Ust-Sungarinsky post situated opposite to the confluence of the Amur River from China's Songhua River. Ust-Sungarinsky post was abolished after the formation of villages Mikhailo-Semyonovskoye and Kukelevskoye. During the summer season in 1858 on the left bank of the Amur River in the area where the Amur came into the river of Hingan appeared 18 stanitsas and 25 on the way from Blagoveshchensk to Khabarovsk.

Villages were set in such a way that the distance between them was equal to the length of an ordinary postal way: 15-18 kilometers. That distance led to the settlements to be placed in poorly suitable for agriculture or flood areas. Later the villages were moved to more comfortable places. By the beginning of 1920 century of archival sources it’s known that on the present territory of the autonomy there were 24 Orthodox churches and 20 chapels. All the churches and chapels were made of wood and thus in 1936 all of them were completely destroyed. For the long 70 years the area has become a spiritual desert.

Revival of church life[edit]

The revival of Orthodoxy in the autonomy began with Birobidzhan. First Parish in the JAR was registered in March 1992: it was housed in an old wooden building of the former People's Court (Kirov Street, 4) and was named after the Holy Apostle Jacob, the brother of the Lord and the first bishop of Jerusalem. Later in 1994, in a former kindergarten "Elegant" was housed another parish - in the name of the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon. First wooden church of Saint Nicholas built based on the Orthodox canons appeared in the regional center in 1999, the first festive service was held on December 19. At the end of 2001 at the Victory Square in Birobidzhan was built a chapel of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God in the memory of the soldiers who died for the Fatherland. That time the territory of JAR was part of the Khabarovsk diocese. Birobidzhan diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church was founded on October 7, 2002 by the resolution of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. To the post of the ruling bishop with the title of Bishop of Birobidzhan and Kuldur was appointed Bishop Joseph (Balabanov). The first in the history of the region stone church - Cathedral of the Annunciation - was laid in April 2003 and consecrated by Metropolitan of Krutitsa and Kolomna Juvenal on September 21, 2005. In 2006, near the cathedral there was built Socio-educational center. The building was consecrated by Bishop of Birobidzhan and Kuldur Joseph on September 21. The building provides place for the diocesan administration and residence of the bishop, kitchen, diocesan library, conference room, warehouse and various utility rooms.

On October 17, 2007 in Amurzet was consecrated a new church in the name of the prophet Elijah, on September 14, 2009 - Church of St. Michael in Leninskoye, on November 19, 2010 - Church of the Holy Matryrs Faith, Hope, Cahrity and their mother Sophia in Valdgeym. Also there were built two temples in corrective labor colonies in Bira and Budukan. By the resolution of the Patriarch and the Holy Synod of August 21, 2007 in Razdolnoye was opened the first in the history of JAR a convent of St. Innocent of Moscow, Birobidzhan region. On October 5, 2008 there was built and consecrated a wooden temple.

Parish listing[edit]

Central deanery[edit]

St. Innocent convent (Razdolnoye)
Chapel of St. Dmitry Donskoy (Birobidzhan)
Chapel of the Reigning Icon (Birobidzhan)
Chapel of All Saints (Birobidzhan)
Chapel of Our Lady "Softener of Evil Hearts" (Volochayevka-1)
Church of St. Michael the Archangel (Leninskoye)
Church of St. Elijah (Amurzet)
Church of St. Catherine (Yekaterino-Nikolskoye)
Members of diocesan cadet dentre
Hospital of St. Panteleimon(Birobidzhan)
The city of Birobidzhan
Birobidzhan district

West deanery[edit]

Obluchensky district

Southeast deanery[edit]

Smidovichesky district
Octyabrsky district
Leninsky district

Shrines of the diocese[edit]

Annunciation Cathedral in Birobidzhan[edit]

Saint Nicholas Church in Birobidzhan[edit]

Diocesan convent of Saint Innocent of Moscow[edit]

Church of Saint Sophia the Martyr in Valdheim[edit]

  • temple icon of the Holy Martyrs Faith, Hope, Charity and their mother Sophia with the relics of St. Sophia of Rome
  • chest with the holy relics of Justus, Justin, Wenning, Placidus, Felitsit, Yukundiy and Simforian

Diocesan saints[edit]

  • Archpriest Martyr Neil (Smirnov): February 8 (January 26), October 2 (September 19)
  • Priest Martyr Demetrius (Rozanov): November 12, (November 25)
  • Deacon Martyr Gregory (Samarin): June 28, (July 11)
  • St. John the Martyr (Demidov): June 28, (July 11)
  • Holy Martyr Dimitri (Vdovin): April 10, (April 23)
  • Holy Martyr Paraskeva (Kochneva): March 26, (April 8)

Social ministry[edit]

Since the revival of the Orthodox faith in the autonomy the church life once again was brought to life in all its traditional aspects. Nowadays Birobidzhan diocese conducts a broad mission including educational, social and charitable activities.

Cadet center[edit]

November 5, 2006 at Socio-Educational Center of the Birobidzhan diocese was put in operation Orthodox-patriotic military cadet center. The total number of cadets enrolled in the center compiles more than thirty boys aged 12–14 years; half of them are inmates of "Children's home № 2". The training program is designed for two years. Classes are held on Sundays. Classes are delivered by professional teachers and soldiers. Cadets go for excursion to the local museums, make trips to the city of Khabarovsk and its theology seminary and to the temples of the Far East. Sometimes pupils visit panzer division located in Babstovo and military units located in Birobidzhan. Cadets wear military uniforms; center has its own banner of arms and emblem. Pupils of the center are supposed to attend prayers on Sundays. After the service and dinner in the diocesan refectory, pupils have three school hours according to the schedule.

Diocesan Hospital of St. Panteleimon in Birobidzhan[edit]

Diocesan Orthodox Hospital of St. Great Martyr and Healer Pantaleon operates since 1994. According to the license the hospital can provide the following services: intensive rehabilitation, respite care and post-operative care, short and longer term palliative care with expert symptom control, short-term intensive counselling, medical massage, nursing, physical therapy, therapy and medical examinations. Hospital’s Cardiology Services also provide diagnostic testing to detect and treat heart diseases. The hospital provides the following types of physiotherapy: UHF-therapy, electrophoresis, inhalation.

The hospital also provides pre-travel and post-travel medical examination of truck drivers. At the Hospital of the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon Hospital operates a soup kitchen for the needy, serving up to 30 people every day.

Orthodox Christian Women's Club "Svetlitsa"[edit]

The club "Svetlitsa" was established at the Socio-Educational center of the diocese of Birobidzhan diocese in 2010. It’s a voluntary organization that is open to all women of the Birobidzhan diocese and aimed at spiritual, educational, cultural, charitable and other socially useful activities, including restoration of the an Orthodox way of life in the Russian families, assistance in teaching school children Orthodox Christian values, assistance for children, low-income single parents and other vulnerable members of society.

Orthodox legal assistance center "Trust"[edit]

In 2006 Birobidzhan diocese founded valid legal aid center. The center provides the next legal services: execution of contracts, including purchase and sale, exchange and donation contracts; selection of scenarios for sale and purchase of housing; assistance in the registration of real property; assistance in execution of subsidies for residential and community services; preparation for tax return documents; preparation of petitions, representation in court; consulting on tax issues.

Society of Russian orthodox doctors[edit]

November 28, 2007 was held the first constitutional assembly of the regional branch of the Russian organization "Society of Russian orthodox doctors" in the Jewish Autonomous Region. The main objective of the society is to improve medical care in Russia, basing both on the spiritual doctoring, carried out by priests of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the members of the regional companies providing a feasible grant a health care professional, understood orthodox doctors as a service to the people in need.

Youth Centre[edit]

On September 2003 the Diocese of Birobidzhan has founded a new regional public organization under the name of “Transfiguration”. The number of members is about 30 people aged 14 to 30. The Youth Centre acquired the status of a legal entity from the date of state registration in judicial authorities. The work of the centre is held in close contact with the diocesan department for work with young people.

The structure of the Orthodox Youth Center "Transformation" includes:
Diocesan soccer team «Inter»
Broadcasting school for children «Daises»
Amateur theatre group «Image»
Annual procession with the Albazin icon

Diocesan children's soccer team "Inter"[edit]

Diocesan children's soccer team "Inter" Birobidzhan diocese was createdMarch 31, 2009 and completely made of pupils of OGOU "Children's home №2". Young footballers gave their team name "Inter" (abbreviated from the word orphanage: in Russian "Internat"). From the earliest days of the creation and young players have established themselves as a strong team. Participating in competitions of different levels, they show a good and interesting game. For example, in the recent time, the diocesan team "Inter" took part in an international tournament organanized by the company "MegaFon" where they won the 5th place. The right to participate in this tournament was deserve by winning in a series of matches - regional tournament where they confidently took the 1st place, and federal championship of the Far East and Western Siberia, where they defeated a team from Buryatia scoring 5-0 - the match that gave them an opportunity to enter the international tournament, which was held in the city of Sochi.

Diocesan broadcasting school for children "Daises"[edit]

Broadcasting school for children "Daisies" was founded with the blessing of the Archbishop of Birobidzhan and Kuldur Joseph in 2013. Since 1994, the first Sunday of March, the world celebrates the International Day of Children's Television and Radio Broadcasting. March 3, 2013 at the International Day of Children's Television and Radio the archbishop consecrated television studio "Daisies". The school is designed to teach children the basics of journalistic staff. Students are also involved in the production of their own TV shows with the participation of the last.

Diocesan amateur theatre group "Image"[edit]

Diocesan amateur theatre group "Image" was founded in 2005 with the blessing of the Bishop of Birobidzhan and Kuldur Joseph. The theater troupe is composed of graduates of the Khabarovsk State Institute of Arts and Culture and Birobidzhan Regional College of Culture, as well as people who are not unsympathetic with the theater arts and cultural life of the region. Theatre group "Image" is actively involved in the preparation and carrying out various events conducted by the diocese.

Theater productions :
  • 2006 - sketch "Christmas Night"
  • 2007 - sketch "Christmas Carol" and performance "The New Adventures of Pinocchio"
  • 2008 - Christmas performance play "The Snow Queen"
  • 2009 - Christmas performance play "Father Frost"
  • 2010 - Christmas performance play "Buratino in the Emerald City"
  • 2010 - Christmas play "The House on the Border"
  • 2011 - Christmas play "The Snow Queen" based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen
  • 2012 - Christmas play "From the ship to the ball" based on the play by George Olesinov
  • 2013 - Christmas play "The Dreamers" based on the fairy tale by Nikolay Nosov "Dunno and His Friends"

Annual procession with the Albazin Icon of the Mother of God[edit]

Since 1902 on the territory of the Russian Far East after the feast of the Holy Trinity was held a traditional procession with the main shrine of the Far East - Albazin Icon of the Mother of God. In January 2007, Diocesan Assembly of the diocese of Birobidzhan issued a resolution of reviving the tradition of carrying the icon in the procession within the diocese borders. March 19, 2007 Bishop Joseph performed a rite of consecration of a copy of the miraculous Albazin Icon produced especially for the upcoming event by art company "Sophrino". Since then each year, the holy icon makes its missionary journey throughout the diocese - according to the schedule it visits parishes and churches of the Jewish Autonomous Region.

Saint Innocent readings[edit]

Saint Innocent Readings that are held annually since 2006, in the second half of March, the day before the feast of St. Innocent, Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna and Apostle of Siberia and America under the "Agreement for cooperation between the Government of the Jewish Autonomous Region and the Birobidzhan Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church". Readings are intended to identify and solve the problems of building a dialogue between the public and the Russian Orthodox Church. The event is usually participated by teachers, diocesan clergy, as well as visitors from other regions.

Annual festival "Great Maslenitsa"[edit]

Cathedral square during festival «Great Maslenitsa»
Historical reenactors at the festival «Great Maslenitsa»

Annually since 2006 with the blessing of Bishop of Birobidzhan and Kuldur Joseph on the Forgiveness Sunday after the Divine Liturgy at the square in front of the Annunciation Cathedral is held "Great Maslenitsa". "Great Maslenitsa" is the only festival held in the region that is intended specifically for children. The event itself aimed at very important missionary tasks of reminding children their history and its Orthodox roots and the traditional Russian customs.

Christmas tree[edit]

Each year since 2007 during the Christmas season the Diocese of Birobidzhan holds a Christmas tree celebration. The invitations to the feast are usually given to children of parishioners of the city’s Cathedral and churches from all parts of the region, kids from the Sunday School and the city’s orphanages, students of the diocesan cadet class and members of the Diocesan soccer team "Inter". Special attention is paid to children from poor and disadvantaged families. The invitations are also given to children of employees of organizations and enterprises, which work closely with the diocese of Birobidzhan and constantly provide assistance in implementation of the social, educational, missionary and other diocesan projects.

Christmas tree celebration is held at the Regional Philharmonic Hall, on the biggest stage in the region, which seats about 730 spectators and allows scenery changes. In the preparation for the Christmas tree are actively involved the diocesan Department for Youth Affairs and diocesan Youth Center "Transfiguration". Each year since 2006, the diocesan theatre "Image" writes and performs a colorful Christmas play. The performance is used to involve the city’s dance troupes and musical ensembles.


Since January 2004 Birobidzhan diocese publishes a monthly newspaper "Blagovest" with has a circulation of 1,000 copies. Diocesan newspaper is designed to reflect the lives of Birobidzhan diocese and its parishes. The newspaper is published once a month, in the format of A3, with a volume of 8 pages. Birobidzhan diocese also publishes a monthly brochure "Missionary Leaflet" which designed for people who make first steps in the church people as well as those who wish to learn more about Orthodoxy. The brochure is published once a month, in A4 format, with volume of 4 pages. Circulation is 5000 copies.

Diocesan exhibitions[edit]

The third diocesan exhibition «History of Coins»
The sixth diocesan exhibition «Russian Pilgrim»
The seventh diocesan exhibition «Russian Calvary»

Due to the remoteness from the center of Russia and the high cost of delivery and payment of insurance the region almost does not hold any exhibitions at all. While Diocesan Administration , using a variety of private collections and private collections of people organizes many of them. Such exhibitions are always main events in the cultural life of the city and even the region and attracts wide attention of many people. The basis of the composition are unique antiques, for example, at once there was a copy of Ostrog Bible of Ivan Fyodorov, a gospel printed during the reign of Ivan V and Peter I, an epitaphios made during the reign of Empress Elizabeth, a epitrachil, a mitre and a mitre box that belonged to St. John of Kronstadt , a unique picture of Emperor Nicholas II, the photographs of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, the various biblical coins and many other rare artifacts.

Day of Orthodox books[edit]

Since 2010 on the initiative of His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill Orthodox Day of Orthodox books is held in all the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. By the decision of the Holy Synod, it was decided to establish an annual Day of Orthodox books, in conjunction with the release date of the first printed book in Russia by Ivan Fedorov "The Apostle", which was published March 1, 1564 - March 14 (Gregorian calendar).

The two-week celebration includes open classes for students of educational institutions, various quizzes, unique book exhibitions, essay competitions, contests on church poetry and religious literature. Each year during the celebration of Orthodox books Birobidzhan diocese carries out a campaign "Give a book for children" consisted in collecting funds for the purchase of books for the libraries of the region. Thus in 2013 with the help of local entrepreneurs the diocese managed to raise funds for purchasing a popular book by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) "Unholy Saints" for all the libraries of the region.

Diocesan Press Centre[edit]

Press center of Birobidzhan diocese takes the coverage of events that take place within the area of church life or having anything to do with it. Press center also plays an active role on the relationship with the secular media. In May 2013 Birobidzhan diocese hosted the first regional forum of the Far Eastern mass media "Crystal Candle", which were set tasks such as turn mass media's attention to the main Orthodox values : kindness, compassion, and love for one's neighbor , the return of the lost moral concepts in society and the media , and help the secular media when dealing with the themes of Orthodoxy, the identification of the problems encountered in the joint work of the mass media and the Church. The forum also included a contest of journalistic works created on the principles of Orthodoxy.

Press the center of Birobidzhan diocese released the following movies:
  • "Five years of Birobidzhan diocese"
  • "On the anniversary of St. Innocent convent"
  • "Russian young children"
  • "Let him see the sun "
  • "Easter"
  • "Temple in the village of Valdeym"
  • "Because I was not born"
  • "St. Innocent Readings"
  • "10 years of Birobidzhan diocese"

Historical Facts[edit]

  • In 1891, the stanitsa of Yekaterino-Nikolskoye was visited by the heir to the Russian throne, the future Emperor Nicholas II, where in the local church , built in 1865, he took part in a moleben.In April 1900 the granddaughter of Emperor Nicholas I, Princess Eugenia Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg also paid visit to this place.

  • By the directive of the Management of Eastern Siberia it was forbidden for Jews to settle on the Amur rivers banks. The mass migration of Jews to the present territory of the JAR began in 1928.

  • The capital of the Jewish Autonomous region, Birobidzhan, appeared thanks to the merits of a pathfinder Onufriy Stepanov. September 18, 1653, he and 500 Cossacks came from Albazino to fight with yhe duchers, who posed a serious potential threat to the colonists coming to the Amur. The reason why the Cossacks rushed to the area between Bira and Bidzhan is that duchers quickly began to converge with the Manchu tribes. Obviously, the Stepanov's squad primarily operated in the valley of Bira: it was the main settlement of duchers. As a result of actions of the Cossack detachment of Stepanov the leader of Manchus Sergudoy decided to evacuate 5-6 thousands of his people to the Songhua River area.

Contact information[edit]

Russia, Jewish Autonomous Region
Birobidzhan, 34 Lenin street
Postal code 679016
Tel. / Fax: 8 (42622) 02-07-92