On December 7, 2021, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, and a delegation of the Foundation for the Support of Christian Culture and Heritage, headed by the Foundation's Executive Director Egor Skopenko, visited Banja Luka (Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina).
Bishop Ephraim of Banja Luka received the guests at his residence and had a warm and long conversation with them, which was attended by Archpriest Vitaly Tarasyev, rector of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belgrade, A.Y. Hoshev, an employee of the DECR Secretariat for Inter-Orthodox Relations, and employees of the Foundation for the Support of Christian Culture and Heritage.
Archpriest Nikolai Balashov conveyed greetings and good wishes of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the DECR, to the Hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Russian Russian Orthodox Bishop Ephraim of Banja Luka expressed his joy on the occasion of the visit by representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, expressing in conversation with them thoughts about the need to strengthen the unity of Orthodoxy on the basis of loyalty to the canonical church system, as well as the enduring importance of friendship between the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches and the fraternal peoples spiritually nurtured by them. In this regard, the archpastor shared his memories of his years of study at the Moscow Theological Academy in 1971-1975. It was noted that students from the Banja Luka Diocese come to study at the theological schools of the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian Russian Bishop also spoke about the traditions of the Russian-Serbian brotherhood preserved in the diocese, which found expression in the idea of building a Russian-Serbian church in Banja Luka.
The rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior of the Banja Luka Diocese, Archpriest Dragan Maksimovich, conducted a tour of the site where the construction of the Russian-Serbian church in Banja Luka and the Spiritual and Cultural Center of the Banja Luka diocese is being carried out, familiarizing the guests with the construction plan and the progress of work. The temple is being built according to a project prepared in 2017-2018 by specialists of the Moscow Architectural Institute based on architectural solutions of the Chudov Monastery in Moscow, and will have three chapels, one of which is supposed to be dedicated to the holy Royal Passion-bearers.
In the Holy Trinity Church of Banja Luka, the guests worshiped the relics of the Holy Martyr Bishop of Banja Luka Platon, who was brutally murdered by the Ustashas in 1941 and is the patron saint of the Diocese of Banja Luka, and then visited the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, restored after its destruction by the Ustashas in the same 1941.