On December 8, 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 the Gorno-Karlovac Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church located in Croatia.
Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, Egor Skopenko and their accompanying persons met with Bishop Gerasim of Gorno-Karlovac. The meeting was attended by the rector of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belgrade, Archpriest Vitaly Tarasyev, the rector of the monastery of Gorica in honor of the Icon of the Mother of God "Troeruchitsa" Archimandrite Naum (Milkovich), priest Dragan Kalamanda, who looks after the Glinsky church community of the Diocese of Gorno-Karlovac, an employee of the DECR Secretariat for Inter-Orthodox Relations A.Y. Hoshev, director of the architectural and construction firm "POP-AP" A.-M. Popovachki, and also a group of employees of the Foundation for the Support of Christian Culture and Heritage.
Archpriest Nikolai Balashov warmly welcomed Bishop Gerasim of Gorno-Karlovac on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the DECR.
In his response, Bishop Gerasim touched upon the topic of assistance historically provided to the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian people by the Russian Orthodox Church. "I thank you for the support we feel - for spiritual, prayerful, material support–" the hierarch noted. - In the churches in my diocese, there are still liturgical books in Church Slavonic, which we received as help and support from the Russian Orthodox Church... And this is only one tiny part of the help we received."
One of the main topics of the meeting was the situation of the diocese and the conditions of service of its clergy, especially in the context of the consequences of the devastating earthquake with an epicenter on its territory that occurred at the end of December 2020. "I would like to express my gratitude to the Russian Orthodox Church for being the first to respond after the earthquake that occurred in these places, during which several shrines were damaged," Bishop Gerasim said, discussing with Archpriest Nikolai Balashov and Egor Skopenko the participation of the Christian Culture and Heritage Support Fund in the restoration of one of the shrines of the Gorno-Karlovac diocese affected by the earthquake - the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the city of Glina.
The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Clay was built in 1963 in memory of the church of the same name destroyed by the Ustashas, which in 1941 became the place of martyrdom of 1,567 Serbs killed by the Ustashas for firmness in the Orthodox faith and refusal to convert to Catholicism. In the post-war period, the communist authorities prevented the restoration of the church, and in 1963 a new church was erected in Clay, which in December 2020, together with the parish house located at it, suffered from an earthquake and needs repair and restoration work.
On the same day, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, Egor Skopenko and their accompanying persons visited the city of Glina, where, with the personal participation of Bishop Gerasim of Gorno-Karlovac, they got acquainted with the condition of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The rector of the monastery of Gorica, Archimandrite Naum (Milkovich), priest Dragan Kalamanda, as well as the director of the architectural and construction firm "POP-AP" A.-M. Popovachki took part in the inspection of the temple and consultations on the project of its restoration.
The guests also visited the resort town of Crikvenica on the Adriatic coast, where, accompanied by Priest Jovan Galamich, who is the church of the community of Rijeka, they visited the church of St. Nicholas, built in 1924 at the expense of the widow of an outstanding Russian diplomat, Ambassador of the Russian Empire to the Kingdom of Serbia N.G. Hartwig (1857-1914) and used in the interwar period for the spiritual care of refugees from Soviet Russia living in Yugoslavia.