Russian Religious Commune on ABC News

Posted on June 26, 2008 by

ABC News’ Nightline did a 10 minute spot on a 5,000 person Russian commune of followers of Vissarion, a spiritual leader who claims to be the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Deep in the heart of Siberia’s birch forests lies one of the largest and most remote religious communes of the planet. More than 5,000 people have left their families and their homes to move here and join the Church of the Last Testament, which has more than 10,000 followers worldwide. The church centers on one man. He is known simply as Vissarion, meaning “he who gives new life,” or simply as the teacher, and he claims that he is Jesus Christ.

Life here is very basic. Vissarion’s followers are strict vegetarians and they don’t smoke or drink. The houses and churches are built from wood by hand and most of the energy comes from windmills and solar panels. At the followers’ school, little boys are taught how to build model ships and young girls learn crochet and singing.

The villagers in the Abode of Dawn follow an almost entirely vegan diet, largely based on what they can grow themselves. When they move here, they give the church their pensions and whatever possessions they may have. In return they receive basics such as sugar, buckwheat and flour. No money is used within the community but they are given an allowance of 300 rubles, about $12, a month.

The piece has a fairly skeptical tone but the images of the community members show them as happy. Whether you agree with their spirituality or not, the images of a remote 5000 person community are striking and I’m sure it would be fascinating to seehow things work day to day.

See the video and read the article on the Russian Commune of Tiberkul

3 Replies to “Russian Religious Commune on ABC News”

Neil Planchon

June 1-3, 2020: I could not find a way to cancel her payments via the GiveWP donor details admin panel. Adam used our staging site to resolve, updated our GiveWP plugins? and made visible (literally) new functionality on our live/production site which made it possible for me to cancel the monthly payments! June 3, 2020: I emailed Lisa with screen shots showing payments were cancelled and appreciated her patience and ongoing support

Neil Planchon

May 29, 2020. I called Lisa, apologized for tech challenges she had and reassured her that I would discontinue her monthly recurring payments. She loves what we are doing, apologized for being rude and offered to make a one time donation by cheque. I gave her our DR mailing address. She sounded relieved and happy again. In closing, I mentioned that I would be talking to Adam (IT person) at which point she questioned my competence. I promised that I would stop her payment before the Jun2 15 automatic payment and email her as soon as I was done.

Neil Planchon

May 27, 2020: Lisa attempted to cancel her $500 monthly contribution and was unable to do so. She emailed Cynthia and shared: My first exposure to Intentional Communities was while working at In These Times Magazine in the 1990s when the IC DIrectory came in as a review copy. I scarfed it up, and joined IC, following and being inspired for several years. Eventually, I drifted away, and just decided to get a new copy, and am revisiting thoughts of joining an intentional community somewhere. I just decided to send a big contribution since I recently came into some money and feel it’s my job to redistribute much of it.) Cynthia forwarded Lisa to me.

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