Moscow, June 21, 2017
A new church has opened in the village of Malaya Kudara in the Kyakhtinsky District of the Buryatia Republic. The church, named for St. Varlaam of Chikoy, was built over the course of nine years with the personal funds of one local elderly resident, reports the Buryatia Metropolis of the Ulan-Ude and Buryatia Diocese. Buryatia is a mountainous Russian republic in eastern Siberia.
Gennady Taishikhin, a 79-year-old self-taught teacher, hunter, farmer, and former marathon runner (running up to 62 miles), began constructing the church in 2009. It was built in stages, with his own hands and his own personal funds. At first it was built as a cemetery chapel, with a narthex and bell tower being added later, and finally, in 2017, the altar. The church is made entirely of handmade detailing. Even the thin railing on the iconostasis was made with one axe.
The future ascetic of Chikoy, St. Varlaam, served as an acolyte for some time in Malaya Kudara. Therefore, Taishikhin’s church was named in honor of St. Varlaam, with the blessing of Metropolitan Savvaty of Ulan-Ude and Buryatia. The first Divine Liturgy was served in the church on St. Varlaam’s feast day, June 10.
Restoration work has begun in the same village on the old Holy Protection Church. A marathon fundraiser was held on April 30, with the participation of local authorities, the local “Volnitsa” Cossack ensemble, and other guests. The church is not able to be restored to its original form, so it was decided to build both a summer and a winter-trapeza altar.