Members Celebrate 120th Anniversary of Church in Russia with Concert, Day of Service

Contributed By Elena Nechiporova and Ronda Menlove, Church News contributors

  • 30 November 2015

From left, Lidia Ilyushkina from the violinist group Renaissance, Nurbek Kamaenov, Irina Kasatkina, Elena Locshilova, Liza Hadges, Yulia Ahmatdinova, and Ekaterina Kolcheva stand during the close of the gala concert celebrating 120 years of the Church’s presence in Russia on November 6.  Photo by Andrey Semenov.

Article Highlights

  • The Church in Russia dates back to June 11, 1895, when Elder August Joel Hoglund baptized Johan and Alma Lindlof in the Neva River in St. Petersburg.
  • Musicians and vocalists performed in the 120th anniversary gala concert organized by the Moscow Russia Stake.
  • Members in many Russian cities held a community-wide day of service, taking on landscaping and cleanup projects to beautify the areas.

“These cultural events and service projects were a fitting recognition of the Church’s beginning in Russia. As the Prophet Joseph Smith foresaw, the future of the Church is bright in this part of the Lord’s vineyard.” —Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Seventy

Musicians and vocalists comprised of Church members and guest artists performed in the 120th anniversary gala concert organized by the Moscow Russia Stake in the historic Central House of Architects in downtown Moscow on November 6.

The concert celebrated the 120th anniversary of the Church’s presence in Russia, which dates back to June 11, 1895, when Elder August Joel Hoglund baptized Johan and Alma Lindlof in the Neva River in St. Petersburg, Russia. The anniversary also coincides with the 25th year since Church activities resumed in the country.

Professional and amateur musicians performed music from a Russian classical repertoire, including pieces by Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky, along with well-known hymns. A capacity crowd of 500 Church members, community guests, and dignitaries responded with enthusiastic applause and standing ovations. Capping the concert was a rousing performance of the famous Russian folk song “Kalinka.”

Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Seventy and President of the Europe East Area, and his wife, Sister Susan Porter, attended the concert. He said, “As the Area President, I may be somewhat biased, but Susan and I both felt it was the most spectacular concert we have seen produced by a single stake in the Church.”

Rabbi Zinovy Kogan, vice president of Jewish Religious Congregations of Russia, praised the Church for its focus on families, humanitarian work, and health. Professor William Schmidt of the Institute of State Services and Human Resources recognized the Church as an inspiration to all. He said, “We will continue to do many good deeds together.”

Sergey Antonenko, deputy chief editor of the prominent academic journal Nauka i Religiya (Science and Religion) and author of the Russian language book The Mormons in Russia: Journey of a Century, praised the Church as an example of beneficial social service.

Bolshoi Theatre vocalist and counselor in the Moscow University Branch presidency Vasily Sapozhnikov mesmerized the audience with vocal solos and led the Moscow Russia Stake Choir. The choir, comprised of dedicated and talented vocalists, performed both classical and religious pieces.

Lyubov Mavlyanova, a vocalist with the Musical Theatre of Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko, one of the leading theaters in Russia, performed two solos and joined with the choir. Performances from amateur musicians, both young and old, were interspersed with the professional performers. Renaissance, a professional violinist group composed of young women from Kazan, Russia, accompanied several of the performances. Though not members of the Church, the ensemble group volunteered to participate in the anniversary event.

The gala concert was the pinnacle event of several other 120th anniversary celebrations that took place throughout 2015 in Kaliningrad, Omsk, Orenburg, Saratov, Tomsk, Kazan, and many other cities. Church members, officials and representatives of different religious organizations, scholars, community leaders, and citizens attended the events.

Members in many Russian cities, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Barnaul, Samara, Novokuybyshevsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Ufa, held a community-wide day of service, taking on landscaping and cleanup projects to beautify the areas. Members wore Mormon Helping Hands vests as they worked on cleaning riverbanks, parks, and other areas in their communities. Members from Ussuriysk participated in the landscaping and improvement of a prominent war memorial.

Elder Porter said, “These cultural events and service projects were a fitting recognition of the Church’s beginning in Russia. As the Prophet Joseph Smith foresaw, the future of the Church is bright in this part of the Lord’s vineyard.”

Vasily Sapozhnokov, a Bolshoi Theatre vocalist and counselor in the Moscow University Branch presidency, performs at the gala concert on November 6 celebrating the 120th anniversary of the Church’s presence in Russia. Photo by Andrey Semenov.

Lyubov Mavlyanova, a vocalist with the Musical Theater of Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko, performs during the gala concert on November 6 celebrating the 120th anniversary of the Church’s presence in Russia. Photo by Andrey Semenov.

Irina Kasatkina performs in the gala concert held in the historic Central House of Architects in downtown Moscow on November 6, which celebrated 120 years of the Church’s presence in Russia. Photo by Andrey Semenov.