In the 1950s, Michael Bourdeaux spent a year in Moscow as a part of the first wave of British exchange students; he soon found only 41 Russian Orthodox Churches to still be functioning out of the 1,600 before the Russian Revolution in 1917. This prompted him to take up the cause of those persecuted for their religious faith.
In 1969 Bourdeaux founded at Chislehurst the Centre for the Study of Religion and Communism together with Sir John Lawrence, and with the help of Leonard Schapiro and Peter Reddaway, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University. In the early 1970s he bought the old parish school on Keston Common and the centre was renamed Keston College. Later it broadened its purview to include former communist countries with its main concerns being the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. Over the years it played a key role in the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church, and has become a leading voice on religious freedom in former communist countries, with an emphasis on the former Soviet Union. Eventually the enterprise was relocated to Oxford.
- About us Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine
- The Future of Freedom in Russia, by William J. Vanden Heuvel. Published by Templeton Foundation Press, 2000. ISBN 1-890151-43-2. p. 165.
- Russian Orthodoxy Resurgent: Faith and Power in the New Russia, by John Garrard, Carol Garrard. Published by Princeton University Press, 2008. ISBN 0-691-12573-2. Page xv.
- the Keston Institute is an Oxford- based research charity which is... Oxford University Gazette., 2000-1.
- Keston Center