28 May 2010, 16:02

Boat-shaped church for globe-trotting deacon

Boat-shaped church for globe-trotting deacon
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A boat-shaped Orthodox church will be built in the Ukraine. The unusual project was submitted in the Ukrainian city of Zaporozhye the other day by the world-famous Russian traveller Fyodor Konyukhov. The church project looks formidable even in drawings and pictures.

A boat-shaped Orthodox church will be built in the Ukraine. The unusual project was submitted in the Ukrainian city of Zaporozhye the other day by the world-famous Russian traveller Fyodor Konyukhov.

The church project looks formidable even in drawings and pictures. It is planned to consist of a gate playing the role of the stern, a shrine in the Bysantine style which will represent the captain’s bridge, and a light-house-shaped bell-tower 27 m high. A bird’s eye view of the church site will have the shape of a fish, an ancient Christian symbol.Commenting on this unusual project, Fyodor Konyukhov stressed that he began undergoing the procedure of chirotony – consecration to be a priest – in the Zaporozhye diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church on 23 May, the day of the Holy Trinity. And in future he would very much like to conduct services in a church like this where everyone could find refuge from the hustle-and-bustle of the sea of life. Now Father Fyodor-to-be is taking a 40-day training in one of the Zaporozhye diocese churches after which he will be able to do his duties in church without supervision.

Fyodor Konyukhov’s decision to take holy orders thoroughly surprised many of this courageous traveller’s admirers. The seafarer himself confesses that the decision came to him at sea. In one of his voyages his boat got into a terrible storm. There was practically no chance to survive. And then the traveller began to pray.

"When the storm had blown over I realized it was a heavenly sign," says Fyodor Konykhov, Father Fyodor-to-be. "For many years with the power I gained at sea, I worked hard for people’s sake and for my own fame. Now I want to work, in honour of God, for the Church, and for all of you, my dear ones. Why did I choose Zaporozhye for taking holy orders? Because it is my native place."

After becoming a deacon Fyodor Konyukhov is not going to give up travelling completely. But priorities will move from record-setting to missionary activities. In his nearest plans there is a trip to Mount Everest. At the foot of the mountain Father Fyodor wants to erect a cross in memory of all the mountain-climbers who died.

So far, Fyodor Konyukhov’s boat-shaped church exists only on paper. But it is already settled that the church complex will bear the name of St. Fyodor Ushakov. This famous 19th century Russian admiral distinguished himself with numerous victories defending his motherland  and was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. His great name-sake is close to Fyodor Konyukhov not only because of the many sea voyages, but also because of the devoted Orthodox faith that the Russian admiral treasured in his heart. “I sincerely hope that my church will become a kind of harbour for all believers”, Father Fyodor says. “And, who knows, maybe one day I will become its Father Superior”.

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