On Friday, October 6th, Holy Trinity Publications hosted an event at a private club in Washington, DC to celebrate the release of Foundations of Russian Culture by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann. This is the first work of Fr. Alexander Schmemann to be released by Holy Trinity Publications. Attending the event were thirty-nine distinguished guests, including Metropolitan Nicholas Olhovsky (First-Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad), Archpriest Victor Potapov (Rector of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, DC), Archpriest Michael Meerson (Rector of Christ the Savior Orthodox Church in New York City), Archpriest Chad Hatfield (President of St. Vladimir's Seminary), Archpriest Seraphim Gan (Chancellor of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad and rector of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY), Fr. Nicholas Alford (Rector of St. Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington, DC), Priest Nathan Williams (translator of the book and cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Church in Richmond, Maine), Dr. Nicolas Schidlovsky (Dean of Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary), Dr. Ionuț-Alexandru Tudorie (Academic Dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary), and Serge Schmemann, (Member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times, son of Fr. Alexander and author of the foreword to the book).
The guests gathered at 6pm to hear short presentations on the book. Speakers included Metropolitan Nicholas, Dean Nicolas Schidlovsky and Fr. Victor Potapov. After the speeches, Reader Nicholas Chapman, director of Holy Trinity Publications, joined in conversation with Serge Schmemann about Fr. Alexander's understanding of Russian culture.
© Sergei Chapnin
In his address, Metropolitan Nicholas noted that Fr. Alexander, as one of the most widely recognized voices of the Russian emigration, had an influence that penetrated the Iron Curtain and touched on themes that span many generations of the development of Russian culture, beginning with the maximalism of Orthodox Christian faith that became "one of the chief foundations of the new culture", showing that the flowering of Russian culture cannot be separated from the "daily and never ending need to cultivate an authentic Christian Faith".
In particular, he highlighted the poignant ending of Fr. Alexander's final talk, "the eternal foundation of Russian culture… is more profound and more powerful than culture alone. This foundation is “the image of eternity,” which was “inborn” in Russia at the very outset of her history, and to which Russian culture remains faithful."
A copy of the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God was present throughout the whole gathering. During his speech, Fr. Victor Potapov recalled visiting Fr. Alexander and Serge, and serving a moleben before the icon a few days before Fr. Alexander’s repose.
© Sergei Chapnin
Holy Trinity Publications is very grateful to Marilyn Swezey for making the event possible.
Following the presentations, the guests gathered for refreshments and shared fellowship.
A video of the event will be released in the coming weeks.
All images courtesy of photographer Sergei Chapnin