Russian Harvest assists with the restoration of historic churches.

When a church is built at the heart of a village, and there is devout faith in the hearts of the people. The result is a strong and healthy community.

Many rural areas of European Russia are dotted with the ruins of old churches.

It is not just the churches that have fallen into disrepair, the thriving villages that filled them with congregations are also gone, victims of a massive depopulation over the last 100 years.

The first wave occurred in the 1930s – 40s, as peasants were forced into collective farms, with many of them moving away to work in the factories of the rapidly industrializing Soviet Union.

Despite this first wave, the Soviet system still maintained many collective farms that employed a relatively large population. Usually these farms were not economically viable, and the agricultural sector was subsidized.

The government saw food security as an important part of national defense, as does the contemporary leadership, so the sector was supported. By Soviet standards, collective farm workers had a good standard of living.

The second wave came after the fall of Communism, in the 1990s, when subsidies were removed. This was even more devastating than the first, and over the last 25 years, depopulation of rural areas has reached extremes.

It is not uncommon for entire forests to have grown up over the last 80 years in places that were once mostly farmland, supporting dense networks of villages filled with peasants.

For detailed information, and list of over 50 village churches in the Rostov district which need renovation, and status of those renovated and under renovation, please click here.

For more information, and to find out how you can help, feel free to contact us.

A video made by Father Krupnov, appealing to the public to bring these churches and villages back to life. It has excellent drone footage of some of these villages and churches, showing how empty and lush the land is around them.