On January 20, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, arrived in Lebanon. Metropolitan Anthony is accompanied on his trip by Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, adviser to His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, Deputy Chairman of the DECR, and Priest Alexander Ershov, assistant to the DECR Chairman.
Upon arrival in Beirut, Metropolitan Anthony and his entourage went to the Compound of the Russian Orthodox Church, where they were warmly welcomed by his rector, Archimandrite Philip (Vasiltsev), representative of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.
Then the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church visited the Church of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos in the village of El Dib, reconstructed with the assistance of the DECR at the expense of the Christian Culture and Heritage Support Fund. Since 2020, with the blessing of the ruling bishop of the local diocese of the Patriarchate of Antioch, Metropolitan Silouan of the Lebanese Mountains, divine services for the Russian Orthodox community of Lebanon have been held in this church.
Metropolitan Silouan of the Mountains of Lebanon and Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, in the concelebration of the Arab clergy and Archimandrite Philip (Vasiltsev), performed a thanksgiving prayer.
The church was attended by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Lebanese Republic A.N. Rudakov, the Executive Director of the Foundation for the Support of Christian Culture and Heritage Egor Skopenko, the head of the reconstruction of the temple architect D. Naamen, numerous parishioners of the Russian Orthodox community.
Prayer services were performed in Arabic and Church Slavonic.
At the end of the service, Metropolitan Silouan of the Mountains of Lebanon addressed the distinguished guests with words of greeting: "I pray that the Most Holy Theotokos, the Heavenly patroness of this temple, together with John the Forerunner, Saints Anthony and Silouan, will be the intercessors of your honest delegation during your visit to the borders of our Antiochian Church, and also that this visit will be fruitful. The whole earth now needs our prayers and the prayers of the Heavenly saints of God, so that we can all be at peace."
"I am grateful for the good, holy relations between our two Churches – the Antiochian and the Russian," the hierarch also said. "I would like to express special gratitude personally to His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony and all members of his delegation, because the brotherly love and friendship that exists between us is very important in today's world."
As Vladyka Siluan noted, receiving guests from the Russian Orthodox Church is a great joy for him and for the members of the community of the Annunciation Church in the Village of El Dib, who live in Lebanon, but came from all over the world – from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and other countries: "These people came here from different places, but here they live together and participate in the Liturgy here. We hope that in a few months the restoration work will be completed and services will be held in the church again."
In response, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, stressed that all members of the delegation were very happy to visit the blessed Antiochian Orthodox Church and its diocese of the Lebanese Mountains, starting the visit with the Annunciation Church in the Village of El Dib.
Vladyka Anthony visited this temple a little over a year ago. "When Father Philip and I came here, he told me about the idea of building a church here for those believers who have a spiritual connection with the Russian Church," the archpastor shared his memories. – We then prayed at this place and asked for God's blessing on this undertaking. And now we thank God, because the active phase of the restoration of the church has begun. We prayed today that the Lord would bless the speedy completion of this project, so that soon there would be a home for all believers who would like to pray in their native language and follow the Russian Orthodox liturgical tradition." He stressed that this became possible thanks to the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Metropolitan Silouan of the Lebanese Mountains, as well as thanks to the great assistance of the Foundation for the Support of Christian Culture and Heritage.
"For many years, Vladyka Silouan, you have lived abroad, where you nursed the flock of the Antiochian Orthodox Church living outside Lebanon, so you know from your own experience how important it is for people living far from their homeland to feel at home in the church," said the DECR chairman. – You have given us such an opportunity here, and we are very grateful to you for it. We pray for God's help in your labors, for the blessing of the Lord in the service of the Church of Antioch. We understand that this service is performed in difficult circumstances, so know that the Russian Orthodox Church fully supports you. We are always with you in our prayers."
Archimandrite Philip (Vasiltsev), representative of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, stressed: "Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk's visit to the Antioch Patriarchate begins with the ancient Lebanese land, with the Church of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, which was given to us with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan for the needs of the community of the Russian Orthodox Church in Lebanon. Today you can see what works have already been carried out thanks to the assistance of the Foundation for the Support of Christian Culture and Heritage, as well as the works of Vladyka Siluan's assistants."
Russian Russian Orthodox believers living in the country, where they could come every day and where it would be possible to build a liturgical life on the basis of Russian Orthodox traditions, he mentioned that the community gathered on this day to pray for the continuation of the work and that this temple would be a place of attraction for the believers of the Russian Orthodox Church living in the country, where they could come every day and where it would be possible to build a liturgical life on the basis of Russian Orthodox traditions. In conclusion, Archimandrite Philip presented Metropolitan Anthony with a panagia in the form of a Lebanese cedar.
After that, the DECR chairman and his accompanying persons were invited to the Metropolitan of the Lebanese Mountains, where a conversation took place with Metropolitan Silouan. The hierarchs exchanged views on the situation of Christians in the Middle East and around the world, and discussed a number of other topics of mutual interest. In memory of the meeting, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk presented Metropolitan Silouan of the Lebanese Mountains with the Holy Panagia.