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Source: Facebook/Кафе-трапезная Antipa
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Source: Facebook/Кафе-трапезная Antipa
World News

Russia's Orthodox Church appeals to young people with new 'hipster' coffee shop

by Will Maule

The Russian Orthodox Church, known for its traditional worship style, is taking a new approach to reaching millennials - by designing a cool new coffee shop. Moscow's Church of Saint Antipas, which is located just a stone's throw from the Kremlin, has enlisted the help of architect Anastasia Balakireva to design the "Antipa” cafes, which serve flat whites and pastries, along with an Orthodox lifestyle magazine called “Khleb” or “Bread”.

Source: Facebook/Кафе-трапезная Antipa

"To communicate with them you have to talk in a modern way,” Balakireva said of the design's purpose. “Moscow’s a very driven city. There’s a calmer atmosphere here even if you’re not religious."

The church is led by Father Andrei Shchennikov, a former stage and TV actor who counts several Russian VIPs as members of his congregation. The church is reportedly financed in part by Irina Abramovich, the ex-wife of oil magnate and Chelsea Football Club owner, Roman Abramovich.

Father Andrei told the Telegraph that while he supports the traditional forms of worship championed by his denomination, he is seeking to “defuse tension” around the practice of religion in general, in a bid to draw young people into church.

“In Russia there is sometimes wariness in relation to the Church. ‘You can’t walk here. You can’t stand there.’ There are shawls [for women to cover their hair],” he said. 

Source: Facebook/Кафе-трапезная Antipa

Of the church's strong social media presence, Father Andrei said that "you have to go where the people are". He added that while he used to personally run the church's Instagram, he has since handed over responsibilities after growing weary of the "haters" online. 

Source: Facebook/Кафе-трапезная Antipa

“I am a traditional conservative,” he confirmed, adding that the cafe is "like a ring that holds a previous gem - the gem is what has real value".

With that being said, the priest is still convinced that it is only by the power of God that people will be saved and that the cafe is a vehicle through which young people may be drawn into the church. 

“Only the Lord himself can call people to God," he said. 


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