The ad of the exhibition “Belarus: the Revival of Spirituality”
This autumn seems really hectic when it comes to religion-related events in the region. The current hot item is the decision of the Constantinople Bartholomew to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. I will comment upon this in the next post, but now let’s see what has recently happened in Belarus.
Two important events have recently taken place in Minsk, which proves, I think, that there might be a shift in the official religious discourse; first, “Belarus: the Revival of Spirituality”, an exhibition at the National Historical Museum; and second, “Belarus and the Bible”, the large event organised at the National Library.
Traditional beginning of a new school year in the Gethsamane church, Minsk. Source: ochve.bel
Last month cohorts of young Belarusians began a new school year. This blog entry, however, discusses other types of ‘schools’ in Belarus – religious, known as the Sunday schools. Below more about those run by Protestant congregations.
But before that – it has been a while since my last blog post. A few reasons were behind this inactivity – mainly the preparation for the upgrade and other academic commitments. Eventually, I managed to deal with it and now can continue my usual PhD-related activities as well as try to engage others in my research through blogging.
Today the 7th International Congress of Belarusian Studies kicked off in Warsaw, this time in cooperation with Collegium Civitas. Previous conferences took place in Kaunas, Lithuania. The Congress remains one of the rare opportunities for academics working on Belarus to meet up and discuss their research.
I am excited about my tomorrow’s presentation on the social capital formation in the village of Alšany, south-west Belarus. I have already prepared my powerpoint slides.
On 6 August Belarusian Protestants began officially celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Francišak Skaryna’s translation of the Bible into an archaic church-Slavonic language, which can be seen as a proto-Belarusian.
I happened to attend one Minsk-based congregation on that raining day. Despite the weather, people were in truly festive moods.
Collective Prayer of Evangelical-Christians, Čyžouka Arena, Minsk 2015. Source: Krynica.info
According to the recent study on religiosity in Central-Eastern Europe by Pew Research Centre, the vast majority of Belarusians (84%) declare they believe in God. Surprisingly, despite decades of state-enforced secularisation, Belarusian society is fertile ground for religious activities and organisations.
Also, the overwhelming majority of people affiliate themselves with specific religious organisations. However, the number of practising believers who regularly engage in religious activities is far smaller. Unexpectedly, Belarusian Protestants, not covered in the study, might be the de facto leaders on the ground.