January 11, 2007

English Translation by Nina Tkachuk Dimas 

On the eve of the Nativity and on Nativity night, Beijing's Orthodox believers assembled for solemn divine services in "the Red Fangzi" - the oldest building (on the grounds) of the Embassy of the Russian Federation. Over eighty people came to pray on the radiant feast of Christ's Nativity — employees of Embassy of the Russian Federation with their families, compatriots living in Beijing, as well as Orthodox Christians from Ukraine, Belarus, the USA, France, Greece, Serbia and Macedonia. About half of the congregants went to confession and received communion. The Nativity message of Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia was read. The divine services in Beijing's Dormition Orthodox community were served by Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev. On the evening of the Feast all believers were invited to share a common meal. Christmas gifts which were given to all visitors of the Fangzi during the meal brought great joy.

On January 7th, with consent of the authorities, Chinese Orthodox believers, who at present do not have their own temple in Beijing, assembled for Great Vespers in St Michael's [Roman] Catholic Church on Dongjiaominxiang Street in central Beijing. Because at present there are no Chinese Orthodox clergy in the Peoples' Republic of China, lay services are conducted. After the service the Chinese Orthodox faithful invited their co-religionists from Russia to a festal meal.

Nativity services were also held in Shanghai by Priest Alexy Kiselevich, and in Hong Kong by Hieromonk Melety (Sokolov). On the first and second days of the Nativity, divine service were also held in the home churches in Shenzhen and Guangzhou for Orthodox faithful living in the province of Guangdong.

On the afternoon of January 7th in the building of the club of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Beijing a "Yolka" Christmas party was organized by parishioners of the Orthodox community. Children from grades 7-11 of the embassy school presented "The Christmas Miracle", a scene narrating Christ's birth. Sunday school children from of Beijing's Orthodox community sang Christmas carols. About fifty kids with their parents attended the celebration. Children read Christmas and New Year's poems, participated in various games. All were given "delicious" gifts and stuffed toys. After the general fun, the children were invited to the festal table.

Having Yolka/Christmas parties on the territory of Embassy of the Russian Federation in China is becoming a good tradition. Festal preparations this year were primarily done by the Sunday school students of Beijing's Orthodox community, which has already been open three years. As of November of last year the Sunday school has an adult group studying the divine law and the lives of saints. In the children's group, in addition to the general program, special attention is given to children's creativity and drawing. Instruction is carried out by graduates of the "M.V. Lomonosov" Moscow State University.

The next services for Beijing's Orthodox community will be on the eve and the day of the Lord's Theophany.