Molokans (Milk Drinkers)


 The following post on Molokans is a combination of material I copied from The Molokan Homepage, Wikipedia, and my own observations and additions about my families experience in the Molokan Church. I am italicizing my entries. This is a long post so I will shorten what appears on the post page and give you the option to continue reading more if you’d like. I’m organizing this material so my children and I have a better understanding of the history of Molokans and what we were brought out of by the grace of God. Tomorrow I’m posting an LA Times article on the Molokan Cemetery where my paternal grandparents and other relatives are buried.

 The Molokans (Russian: Молока́не) are a “Biblically-based” religious movement, among Russian peasants (serfs), who broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1550s. Molokans denied the Czar’s divine right to rule and rejected icons, Orthodox fasts, military service, the eating of unclean foods, and other practices, including water baptism. They also rejected the traditional beliefs (held by Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians) in the Trinity, the veneration of religious icons, worship in cathedrals, the adherence toward saintly holidays, and the decisions of Synods and Ecumenical Councils.

 The Molokans also called “milk drinkers” were persecuted by their countrymen and government, and were exiled to a remote area of Russia (Transcaucasia), where they lived and prospered for several generations. In 1833, there was a reported outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a number of Molokans in the Transcaucasus region. This created a schism between Constants and the newly evolved Jumpers and Leapers. With what the Molokans believed to be an additional manifestation of the Holy Spirit, this new smaller sect began a revival with intense zeal and reported miracles that purportedly rivaled that of Christ’s Apostles. Condemnation from the Constant sect lead to betrayals and imprisonment for many of the Jumpers and Leapers, now called New Israelites by their anointed leader Maxim Rudometkin. Maxim Rudometkin, while he was in prison, wrote a spiritual book that was smuggled out by close friends and relatives who came to visit him that later become the basis for a sub-sect of the Molokan faith. This book, used as a companion to the Holy Bible, is known as the Book of Spirit and Life. Molokans who accepted this book and who followed Maxim’s interpretations of the Bible are known as Maximisti, which make up most of the Jumper and Leapers sect. (This was the group my family was a part of. Maxim classified them as the New Israelites, the new chosen ones).

Before World War I there was a well-known colony of Molokans that had been exiled to the Caucasus (an area long within Russian hegemony), mainly to what is now Azerbaijan, Armenia and eastern Turkey (Kars). As a 12-year-old boy, Efim G. Klubnikin became known as a “seer”, or prophet, depending on one’s viewpoint. As a young boy, it is said that he was divinely inspired to prophesy about a coming time that would be unbearable and that the time to leave Russia was now. For “Soon the doors will close and leaving Russia would be impossible.” He “foreknew” that when he would be an adult that the Ottoman Turks would be heading for Armenia and Ararat, and he was able to provide leadership in getting the Molokan community and others out of harm’s way. Only about 2,000 Molokans (mostly of the Jumpers and Leapers Sect) left for the United States and settled in the Los Angeles area. As Russia faced war and unrest with eventual revolution, the pacifist Molokans faced further religious persecution and military conscription. To save their young men from death in these conflicts and to follow their religious belief of “Thou shalt not kill”, the Molokans began to leave Russia from 1905 to 1912, leaving for far-away countries with their young families to live until a time when they could safely return to their homeland. (My parents’ families did not escape out of Russia till 1932. My father’s family escaped from Russia into Iran. My mother’s family separately escaped Russia into Iran. They later met and were married just outside Tehran. My mothers family was not Molokan at this time. They were Russian Baptist Believers. Just after WWII my parents immigrated to the U.S. with my oldest sister and settled in the Los Angeles area).

Two major subgroups of Molokans migrated to America. The Postoiannye (Constant or Steadfast, i.e., unchanged or original) Molokans were, and remain, centered around Potrero Hill in San Francisco (south of downtown), and near Sheridan, north of Sacramento, California.The Pryguny (Jumpers, also called Leapers, Skippers, Prancers, or Dancers), settled mostly in Los Angeles and Central California, with a few congregations in central Oregon and one in Arizona. Although the Pryguny were a much smaller group in Russia than the Postoiannye, they were more severely persecuted and concentrated in the Caucasus and consequently migrated in larger numbers. The two groups differ in some points of doctrine, domestic custom and ritual, particularly the holidays they observe. Constants observe five Christian holidays adapted from their Orthodox past, while Spiritual and Jumpers adapted five Old Testaments holidays from the Subbotniki. Constants and Jumpers have no official ties in America and operate as separate religions. Because Jumper/Maksimists by dogma reject Constant Molokans as “delusional” and “under the number of the spotted beast” (666), and conversely Molokans claim that Jumpers are not really Molokans, the Jumpers are often classified as a separate faith.

Almost all of the descendants of the Jumper-Molokans who came to America reside along the West Coast, except for about one hundred families who moved to two areas of Australia in the early 1960s, and a few families who moved to South America. About two-thirds live on the East Side of Los Angeles, where they have nine churches — or more properly, gatherings: sobranie in Russian. Most of the Jumper churches look like quite ordinary buildings, not unlike Quaker meeting houses. Prayer meetings can be and frequently are held in private homes since it is the gathering and not the building that is sacred.

American Jumper religious dress has evolved from that of the upper class Russian peasant. Men wear a kosovorotka, pullover shirt (rubashka) worn over the trousers, which has a high straight buttoned collar and a row of buttons running half way down the left chest, and is tied with a tasseled cord belt (poyas). (Think of Dr. Zhivago and you can visualize this shirt).  Full beards are common on the elders, particularly among the Jumpers. Women are more fully costumed with a fancy lace head shawl (kosinka), and layered long dress with an apron, both often adorned with lace. In America, this peasant style has evolved from the multicolored original peasant clothes to fancy costumes in pastel, or white for solemn occasions. (I’ll be posting a photo tomorrow of women in the traditional dress). Often couples will wear outfits of the same color.

 Upon arrival at the church for service, members typically wait outside until a small group gathers. By custom, a woman must be escorted in by a male. When the group decides to enter, the men proceed women, with the eldest male or a visiting guest elder at the head. They usually pass through a small entryway containing a coat rack before entering the main assembly room. The group pauses after all have entered and are facing the congregation as it stands, acknowledging their arrival. After the lead-entering male quietly recites a short prayer, the new arrivals seat themselves. This entry ritual is practiced more by observant Jumpers than Constants.

 The congregation is arranged with the women to one side and the men around a table located toward one corner of the room away from the entry. The elders who sit in the front row around three sides of the table are called the pristol (literally: “at the table”). They are arranged in five groups (four for Steadfast) by their functional position: (1) the presviter, presiding elder or minister, sits at the end of the table facing the congregation, and at his side, if the congregation is large, is a pomoshchnik, helper; to the presviter’s right are (2) the besedniki, speakers, and (3) the pevtsy, singers; and to the presviter’s left are (4) the skazateli, readers, and, in Jumper congregations, (5) the proroki, prophets. There are usually more singers than any other group. Male members and guests with no rank will sit in rows behind the readers and prophets. Some elders like to sit along the wall for back support, and many congregations have added bench cushions in recent decades.

Women sit facing the presviter and a few feet from the men. Leading women singers sit in their front row closest to the male singers. In Jumpers congregations, prophetesses sit in their front row opposite the lead women singers near the male prophets. Other women and female guests sit behind these. In Russia the lead prophetess in a Spiritual congregation may have a chair at the table opposite the presviter.


The table is rectangular, of dining room size, and covered with a fine white cloth. On the table, before the presviter, lay open the books for worship all in Russian. In order, they are the Bible with Apocrypha, a collection of prophetic writings (The Spirit and Life), (only in Jumper congregations), a collection of song texts (The Sionskii Pesennik), and the book of prayers (Molitvennik).The presviter coordinates the service and recites the prayers. He rarely conducts a sermon. That function is usually performed by the speakers who read from and elaborate on the Bible in Russian. Jumpers also use the Spirit and Life as their own “Third Testament”.  The use of English varies within and among congregations. Because few youth understand Russian, it is increasingly tolerated, especially during an occasion when a speaker feels that English is appropriate for the audience, or the speaker is not fluent in Russian.  

Among Jumpers, occasions arise when selected members will jump (in Russian: leap, dance, prance, skip, etc.) and one or more may dictate or speak in Russian “in the spirit”, or decreasingly “in tongues”. In Russia often one hand is held up, in America and Australia both hands are always held up during jumping. Although any member may deliver a prophecy or spiritual message during any part of the service, this function is usually carried out by the anointed prophets selected in a ritualistic manner by another prophet.

Each church has a large kitchen to prepare (obedy), meals, for special occasions. Sawhorses and tabletop planks stored to the side in the church are assembled with the benches into rows of tables for these meals. A typical meal consists of four courses: (1) chai, tea, with sugar and sweets (pastries, dates, raisins, nuts, etc.) and a salad (cut lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers); (2) borshcht, usually a beef broth vegetable soup, without beets as in the South Russian style, or lapsha, thin egg noodles in a beef broth; (3) miaso, meat, usually boiled then broiled beef, but sometimes chicken or lamb and, (4) fruit in season. Except for the soups, which are ladled into individual bowls and eaten with traditional wooden Russian spoons (loshki), the meal is eaten with the fingers. This manner of eating is a carry over from the old country. At home, except for the traditional elderly, most American Jumpers and Molokans eat the typical American diet with popular settings and flatware. Cultural vestiges such as wooden spoons and familiar Russian dishes remain popular and distinguish a meal in a Jumper or Molokan home. 

Obeying the Old Testament food laws, Jumpers-Molokans prepare all church meals “kosher style” (see OT Leviticus 23). Meats are home grown and slaughtered or purchased from a kosher style butcher, preferably a Jumper. Vegetarian options are provided for courses (2) and (3). Breads, pastries, and noodles are homemade or custom ordered. In Los Angeles, one remaining Jumper butcher supplies almost all church orders. There were as many as 6 Jumper-Molokan stores in Los Angeles in the 1920s, reduced to 2 in the 1960s, and one struggling now.

 During each course, when the congregation is eating, a speaker is called. After the speaker, when most have finished a course, and before the next course is served, songs are sung. Some singers may temporarily leave their seats to stand near groups sitting together who have been asked to start a song to add more voices to that group. In Jumper congregations, usually during the meat course just before singing ends after the table is set, it is not uncommon for a prophet to deliver a prophesy, a timely message, and the congregation to stand while many jump and sing.The meal is prepared and delivered to the tables by a partiia, party or work group. Every paid-up congregation member belongs to a work group and is expected to attend when it is their day to work in the kitchen, beginning at 5 a.m.

 This was church as I knew it growing up. On Easter and Christmas we’d attend my maternal grandmother’s church, Bethany Baptist. The services were conducted in Russian there as well as our Molokan Church. We had cousins and other Russian friends there so I was comfortable in that setting, also.In 1963 my father attended the Billy Graham Crusade at the Los Angeles Coliseum and  went forward to accept Christ as his personal savior. This started a very interesting conflict in our extended family, especially among our Molokan relatives. My father thought he could stay in the Molokan church and be a witness and “light” to his friends and family. This worked OK until my dad was convicted about being baptized. My dad finally decided he could not put off this act of obedience and was baptized at the Russian Baptist church. This was an affront to the Molokans because adult water baptism isn’t part of their belief. Word spread fast and my father was ostracized from our Molokan church and from his parents and some of his siblings. Before this event my older sisters had become followers of Jesus and had left the Molokan church. I became a believer the same year as my dad at a Christian summer camp so I was ready to leave the Molokan church. My father was not happy because he loved his fellow Molokans and was distressed that they didn’t understand his new found faith. It took much loving persistence on my fathers part to re-establish relationship with his parents and siblings.

  My issues with the Molokan Church as a religion is the failure to take the gospel of Jesus Christ into all the world, the resistence to accept non-Russians in the body of believers and to be unified with all believers. Too much emphasis on the external and whether you are Russian or a nyeenosh (not ours). The Molokans in the beginning left the Orthodox faith to get away from the worship of icons. Putting so much importance on being Russian, marrying Russians, maintaining the Molokan dress, and customs can become another type of worship that distracts from the most important thing. Jesus Christ came to the world as a sacrifice for the sins of the world once and for all. The blood of Jesus will cover all our sins. He brought God’s grace to the Jew and Gentile. In Christ we have the assurance that we are saved from the wrath of God. When God calls us, we need to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”. As believers in Christ we have His Holy Spirit in us, teaching us, and leading us.

  I still have relatives that are Molokans. I also think there are born again believers in the Molokan church. I just wonder how you can be obedient to Christ and His teachings and do His work within the Molokan church. I’m thanking God today for saving my father and giving him new life to live for God’s son, Jesus Christ. “Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (ESV)

About Ellen am a wife, mother, baba (grandmother) and a loyal friend. Jesus is my King and my hope is in my future with Him.

153 thoughts on “Molokans (Milk Drinkers)

    • Dear Ellen,
      My friend Michelle is Molokan and I had no idea what that meant. I now see and understand. I am a christian and totally agree with your statements on this page. God Bless you and thank you for your insight! Sincerely Cassie Hanlin 🙂

  1. Ellen this is great…very cool. My dad’s mom was Molokan, but I’ve never known much about their history. I’ve just learned so much! Thanks!

  2. Hi-
    I found your post after googling Russian Molokan. I was born into a Molokan family, but was ostracized after marrying “out”. I too am a born again believer and I thank my Lord that even through all the trials and sorrow surrounding my marriage, He used it to bring me to Him. I appreciate your writing about the customs and will have my children read it.

  3. Hi Sandy,
    I’m happy you found my blog. I was the first one in my family to marry a nyeenosh. My older sisters married Russians, but they were Baptists, not Molokans. I thank the Lord along with you that He called you to himself and am sorry for your struggles. Blessings on you and your children!

  4. I was adopted by a Molokan born father and a nyeenosh german mother. By the time I was adopted they were both Born again Christians, however my grandparents on my dad’s side were still Molokan. I will tell you one thing as an adopted black grandchild my grandparents treated me very well. I was spoiled that same as all my brothers and cousins. While I know that they believed differently than I about having a personal relationship with Jesus that leads Christians to an everlasting life with God in heaven, I still loved them deeply. I recently lost my Grandmother (my grandfather died years ago) and I am still sad about it. She was cantancorous and difficult at times, but was still my best maternal friend. My adopted mother died when I was 17. When I had the money and time to visit I would take her shopping, go to restaurants and sometimes we would just sit and talk until the we hours of the morning. She was so funny about her life stories. I feel truly blessed to have had a grandma “Sugar” as we called her. I was able to go the the big Church for her funeral. Everyone there was very nice and said wonderful things to me about how much she loved us. We even had a meal with them at the end of the burial service. The service was in Russian, and sounded beautiful. My father translated what he could. I wept hard as losing her was heart wrenching for me. I loved her so much and will always hold her in my heart. She gave lovingly to me more than she ever had to. Shirley Lidyoff was a great part of my upbringing and had a lot to do with who I am as an adult today. Thanks you for your research and testimony.

  5. Hi Deborah,
    I’m so happy you found my site and commented. I appreciate knowing a little of your history. I can remember several funerals and weddings at Big Church. I attended both my grandfather’s and grandmother’s funeral at Big Church. I remember the semetchki (sun flower seeds) we’d buy at the stand across the street from Big Church. I have fond memories of visiting my grandparents and going in the Banya (steam bath) and then drinking chai afterwards. Good times, good memories. I’m amazed at the goodness of God in saving us to have a relationship with him. May God continue to comfort you in the loss of your “Sugar”!

  6. Hi Ellen,

    This is a very wonderful site. My mother who will be 80 years old on the 23 of this month. was born and raised by her Molokan mother and family in East LA.
    My Grandmother and many of my aunts and uncles are buried in the Molokan cemetery in LA.
    Your writings have brought back many memories for me.


  7. Hi Tim, (Timofey)
    Glad you found my site. Hey, we might have been at some of the same funerals. My parents turn 84 and 83 this year.

  8. Hi Ellen!
    1. Would you please send me you full name and address? This can be done by Email, or by U. S. Mail:
    William J. Treguboff
    3413 Cutter Place
    Davis, California 95616
    I have written a personal history of my early years as a young Molokan, as well as having written a “Molokan” parable, titled: “The Two Samovars” I believe that you would find this material to be interesting.
    2. (Debby Carr Treguboff–now that is a familiar name to me! I was wondefully surprised to her name on this website!
    3. I appreciate the articulate Molokan history on this web page!
    4. From a cultural standpoint, I owe a great debt to the Molokan community–I was well treated by those folks during my growing up years. However, I am ill at ease with most of Molokan theology, and I chose to walk away from it many years ago–but I did maintain many close relationships with family and friends over the years.

    Respectfully yours,

    William Jack Treguboff

  9. Hi William,
    I’m happy you found this site. I am very interested in your history and your parable. I will mail you my husbands address at work and am looking forward to finding out more about your experience. I will give you my name, etc. in the letter I send.

  10. im sorry this has not much to do with this but i live in san diego and we are looking for a church group down here and we cant find one.. can anyone help???

    Hello Peter, Are you looking for a Molokan church? As far as I know La Habra or Arizona are the closest Molokan churches. I think there are some in Baja California, also. In the meantime a good Bible teaching church in San Diego could feed your souls longings…

  11. Hi Ellen

    I wonder if You or anyone else know if there have existed any Swedish Jumpers? A relation of mine went to America and became a precher among the Jumpers in the end of the 19th, or in the beginning of, the 20 century. How can I get more information?
    Thanks for all information on this website. Now I can tell my dad about all this.


    Hi Asa, I’ll see if I can come up with any information about that. It seems to me that there might be charismatic groups that end up jumping when they’re “filled with the Spirit”. I don’t know for sure. Blessings, Ellen

  12. Hi,
    A friend referred me to your website after we were reminiscing about my parents (they’ve both passed away). I was born and raised on Potrero Hill in San Francisco. My father, his three brothers, one sister, and both of their parents (my paternal grandparents) belonged to the Molokan church there. My grandfather’s sister lived in Los Angeles. My father married my mom, a Russian Pentecostal woman, and coverted to her faith. So we were raised in the Pentecostal church. But my grandparents took care of us before and after school, and during the summer. Your story had me sitting back in their church, reliving everything you stated. Thanks for the memories! How can I find out more? Possibly even trying to trace Los Angeles family members?

  13. Not aunt or cousin, but closer than family! Mom’s here at my place w/ me this week. Give a call if you get this! Tooooo funny!
    Russians from Potrero Hill…unite! 🙂

    Alice and Svet, I’m tickled that I could get re-connected with Alice B. through my blog. Blessings…

  14. Hi Ellen –
    Thank you for your words and blessings-so much needed and so very appreciated. It is interesting that coming back here to your blog and reading posts from the others gives me a sense of belonging. Strange. We never lose the need to feel a part of our history, family, community, that sense of belonging. Thank you for providing that for me! Have a beautiful night.
    Many blessings,

    Sandy, I’m glad you have been encouraged. Are you from the San Francisco Molokans or the L.A. group (I guess there’s Arizona, Oregon and Mexico, too) Anyway, just curious. I hope to add some more history soon from another source I found. Blessings on you…

  15. Ellen –

    Actually central California. I grew up in Kerman, which is about 30 miles west of Fresno. There are 3 Molokan churches there. I need to pull out some writings that one of our uncles did which chronicles my families trek from Russia and how they came to settle in Central CA. There might be some info that will help you, Ill be happy to share. If you are interested email me!


    • hi i’m also interested in history of russian molokans here in Central Valley. Please email drugoeus (at) gmail (dot) com. I’m looking someone to tell me story about molokans in California. Thanks.

  16. Sandy,
    How could I leave out Kerman. I spent plenty of time there on farms. My first experiences on farms was there. I would be very interested in your chronicles. I’ll email you. I was in Kerman right out of highschool with a good friend of mine (Molokan) who got married there. I had already left the Molokan Church. Lots of memories…
    Hope to hear from you soon.

    • can anyone help me to find somebody from molokan church in Kerman? I’m writing a story about them for a russian newspaper and I desperately need a contact somebody from Kerman. Thanks!

      • I may possibly be able to give you some info. I am a molokan over the age of 65. very knowledgeable about beliefs, functions of different members, changes that have taken place since coming to America (1904 through 1924)

  17. I found this site while looking for Molokan receipes. My mother was Jeanne Volkoff and my father was Jack Bizieff, both of Kerman. I was raised in the Molokan faith, but left when I married an outsider. I have several aunts – Dorothy Kaseroff, Anna Susoev and Lou Petrushkin all in Kerman and an aunt, Mary Nazaroff of Montebello in LA. My mother was married to Constantine Dalmatov of Montebello and she died in April 2000. I visit my aunts and cousins in Kerman as often as I can and I just recently moved back to the Bay Area from Fresno (born in Kerman-schooled in Fresno, left in early 1970s for Bay Area). I miss my mother’s borchst and her bread. I keep trying but for some reason, can’t quite duplicate her borchst. It is nice to read what you have researched and put together – Occasionally, I will research the “Russian Molokan” website to update, but your’s is the first I have seen. Good job and I will stay tuned.
    Best regards,
    Luba “Louise” Bizieff-Matthews

    Hi Luba, I’m glad you found my site. I spent some time in Kerman growing up at the Kochergan family farm. I graduated from Montebello High school. Blessings…

    • Hi Luba,
      You are my first cousin. My dad was William Bizieff (Jack’s younger brother). I am the youngest of four, Helen, Faith and Bill.
      I grew up in Kerman and now live in Portland, Oregon.
      Please send an email sometime
      Take care,

      • Hi Bob: This is your long lost first cousin Lou Bizieff-Matthews and it is a pleasure to have you contact me. Thank you so much. I am sorry that I am so late in replying to you, but just today I went back into this site, searching out “Bizieff” on the internet and happened to come across your email.

        I live in San Carlos, CA in the Bay Area and am semi-retired. I am now at the nice age of 73. I have two children, Kimberly who is 48 and a professional businesswoman and a son Brian, who is simply just “Brian”. I have two grandchildren, Kyle who is 12 and Melissa who is 7. I adore both of them.

        Please let me know about Helen and Faith. I have not seen nor heard from them since our Uncle Mike Bizieff passed away in the 1950s and I have often wondered about both of them. I hope they are well and thriving. Your brother Bill, I don’t remember as I think he was quite young when I was last around the Bizieff clan. I do keep in touch (ocassionaly) with Max Bizieff, but have not talked to him in some time. I understand that he is very troubled with a bad back and has a hard time getting around.

        I was very saddened by the death of our Aunt Mary Nazaroff. She meant a great deal to me and she will always have a place in my heart. I did get to see and talk to Tanya her daughter at my mom’s funeral in Los Angeles in 2000, but have only talked to Pearl, her other daughter in the last couple of years.

        Please email me and let me know how every one is, where they are and if they have an email address. I would dearly love to contact them.

        Thank you again for contacting me. Till we meet again.

  18. My father, Nick Michael Vidinoff, was Molokan. He married my mother, Frances Joyce Wilson, at the end of World War II, while serving the U.S. Army as a Medic and ambulance driver in England. (Just a brief background of my origins.)

    I remember the Big Church. Often went for wedding, funerals, some services, and Picnics in various parks. I have a lot of pleasant memories with the Molokans, family and friends.

    While I was in San Francisco with one of my daughters (I am 60 years now), we did a lot of sight seeing. Sunday came and I suggested we visit a church for an adventure of getting to know something different.

    My adult daughter was excited and asked which one should we visit?

    It came to mind that my children had never had the experience of seeing the Molokans. We were a military family that traveled and lived in many places. Therefore, they did not go to any activities with the Molokans and are void of this heritage experience.

    I suggested she pull out her computer and look up Molokans in San Francisco. She found the address and I had the opportunity to expose my daughter to a part of her family heritage.

    She was in culture shock. She has seen pictures and heard stories, but no experience in this world affected her or I as much as her being exposed to the actual experience of seeing family culture and customs.

    A minister came and welcomed us and said the the L.A. Church (the Big Church) was sold and they are now meeting in Whittier, CA.

    A delightful well remembered experience. I decided my children (six 6 in all) need to see where they came from and my grandchildren.

    A beautiful group.

    Whittier may be seeing some of us.

  19. Hi Mary Jane,
    I’m glad you found my site and commented. That’s nice that your children were able to experience some of your history. As far as I know Big Church is still at the Lorena Location. The church that moved to La Habra was one of the other churches in L.A. (maybe milikoiski). Anyway my niece goes to the LaHabra one and her father, my brother goes to Big Church on Lorena. UMCA moved to Hacienda Heights. That’s the info I have. Blessings on you and your family…

  20. My grandmother’s maiden name was, Pearl Peter Bogdanoff (Bogdanov) — she had a sister, Hazel – can’t remember her sister’s married name.

    My grandmother Pearl came from Russia with the Molokan immigration, married to a Loskutoff (not sure of spelling) with one son, William (Bill).

    Her parents and siblings settled in San Francisco–Potrero Hill. Her sister Hazel lived there for years and may have died there.

    My grandmother’s husband was a shoemaker, who, not long after arrival, died in the influenza in San Francisco. She later married another Molokan, Michael Z. Vidinoff and moved to Los Angeles –THEN, before World War II, moved to Montebello, after 2nd husband died. She lived on Fourth Street until her death in 1960.

    Her children were — William (Bill [from 1st husband]), Jack, Mary, Pete, John, Alex, Nick, Norma all from 2nd husband.
    All her children used the last name of VIDINOFF even William.

    I remember the day when you could almost travel anywhere in California and just about every Russian family we met knew us and our family genealogy — we were all related in some way — REMEMBER???

    When I visited the church in San Francisco my heart sank as I noticed their group becoming smaller in numbers — history is taking a toll on this group and some day they may be as extinct as a rare bird.





  22. Hello,
    Have just come upon this fascinating info re: Molokans as am again searching for my ancestry, which began in 1856 in Tver region with my ggrandfather Nikolai Egorov.At some point he emigrated to Liepaja/(Libau)…I just read online that certain family names are associated with Molokans…such as “Egorov”…does that mean that essentially ALL ‘Egorov’ families at one time stemmed from Molokans?

    Any info helpful…thankyou!

    Hello Sy, my knowledge of Molokans stems mostly from my own history. I’m not an expert by all means. I’ve looked in the Russian Molokan Directory dated 1996 for Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, utah , Canada, Australia, and Mexico, and I only see one Egorov listed who lives in Porterville. I wish I had more information for you…

  23. Interesting site. I live in Armenia and see Molokan’s every day riding in the mafiabuses and walking on the street. We also have a Molokan family (a mother-daughter and sometimes son) janitor team in our software development company in Yerevan.

    I myself was born in East Los Angeles (yes, I am Spanish), since 2002 live in Armenia.

    Seems very few Armenians in Armenia know much about Molokans other than that they are a Russian cult of milk-drinkers that got expellec from Russia a long time ago. Molokans here generally blend into the landscape so to say and don’t draw attention to themselves, even though they are so obviously recognized: Men with long beards and women with head coverings. One other thing that stands out is the aparent modesty of the Molokan girls, and that they are not particular beautiful, but just somewhat more pretty than plain janes.

    I haven’t ever talked with them, because they seem so into themselves, but I have been curious about them for a long time. Can you please give me some advice and thoughts on dos and don’ts with respect to talking to them? As far as I can tell they understand Armenian (the local language) so it is only a matter of opening a conversation with them (especially the girls, since they are the ones most often seen in the city). Or will they be suspicious of and hostile/closed to a “nyeenosh”?

  24. Interesting site. I live in Armenia and see Molokan’s every day riding in the mafiabuses and walking on the street. We also have a Molokan family (a mother-daughter and sometimes son) janitor team in our software development company in Yerevan.

    I myself was born in East Los Angeles (yes, I am Spanish), since 2002 live in Armenia.

    Seems very few Armenians in Armenia know much about Molokans other than that they are a Russian cult of milk-drinkers that got expellec from Russia a long time ago. Molokans here generally blend into the landscape so to say and don’t draw attention to themselves, even though they are so obviously recognized: Men with long beards and women with head coverings. One other thing that stands out is the aparent modesty of the Molokan girls, and that they are not particular beautiful, but just somewhat more pretty than plain janes.

    I haven’t ever talked with them, because they seem so into themselves, but I have been curious about them for a long time. Can you please give me some advice and thoughts on dos and don’ts with respect to talking to them? As far as I can tell they understand Armenian (the local language) so it is only a matter of opening a conversation with them (especially the girls, since they are the ones most often seen in the city). Or will they be suspicious of and hostile/closed to a “nyeenosh”?

    I was also wondering, short of asking them myself, would these Armenian Molokans be Postoiannye or Pryguny?

    Antranik, Wow an East L.A. Spanish guy in Armenia and it sounds like you speak Armenian… I’m very impressed. I went to Russian School when I was little and speak Russian horribly. Anyway I can only imagine that a Molokan in Armenia would be suspicious of and non-accepting of someone “not their own”. If they are clinging to their Molokan roots they want to stay “apart” from other cultures. I would speak generally with them and see how they respond. As far as whether they are postainnye or pryguny I couldn’t shed light on that without knowing if they follow Maxim or not. The Armenian Molokans could be a lot different from the East L.A. Molokans, depending on their prophets and their teachers and their experience since leaving Russia. There are a couple churches in East L.A. that are becoming more ingrown and restrictive in the last few years. Anyway as you can tell I’m really not an expert. I just know what I have personally experienced. I’m sorry I can’t help you more. It was good to hear from you.

  25. Thanks for posting this article. I grew up in South San Gabriel, and was unaware of the Molokan presence. There were some people I thought were Russians, and left it at that. A few times, the name Molokan came up, but it wasn’t really explained to me. What was most interesting was reading some lists of surnames here and there. They were kind of familiar, but to find out some may have been part of an ethnic group unknown to me is kind of exciting. These articles are helping me understand all these different “things” that just seemed to exist in a vacuum, or were explained as “that’s just what I am.”

    Hi JK, I’m glad you were able to gain some understanding of this culture here. Thanks for stopping by and commenting…

  26. Great article. I have one correction though, from the wikipedia cite. I grew up in one of the Kerman Molokan churches, and am quite dumbfounded at how wikipedia says that Molokans don’t believe in the Trinity. Growing up, I was taught the Trinity. Once I was a teenager and learned about non-Trinitarian churches, I still didn’t know any Molokans were such. It’s only been the last few years that this claim has arisen. Oh well, as a public-written site, perhaps a rogue person added that statement.

    Hi AS, Did your church in Kerman to your knowledge preach that Christ is God? That each member of the Trinity God head is God. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. I know that Molokans acknowledge the trinity but I’m just curious as to the extent they give Jesus the supremacy in church on Sundays. The other question would be whether they teach assurance that once you are called by God and receive the sacrifice of His son on the cross for your sins and become a follower and disciple of Jesus whether you have full assurance of that salvation and your place in Heaven with Him?

  27. I have been enjoying your website very much as I had pretty much put behind everything molokan (except my immediate family). We still are connected even when we “marry out”.

    When I read the article from wikipedia I too was saddened at the claim that Molokans don’t believe in the Trinity. I was taught by my mother about Jesus and accepted Him at an early age. I attended the UMCA in East L.A. and remembered learning so much there as the Sunday school classes were in English.
    Thanks, Ellen, for all your interesting articles (and recipes:). What memories!

    Hi Julie, I also attended UMCA when I was little and remember the Bible drills in particular and memorizing verses that I still remember today. I know that the Molokans reference and acknowledge God the father, the son, and the holy ghost at the end of some prayers but I’m wondering what is actually taught and believed about each member of the Trinity. See my comment above to AS. Blessings…

  28. Hi Ellen-

    You need to come to the Czarina tea that is put on every other year by the Heritage Club- a Molokan service organization. I would love to have you sit at my table.
    At the tea you can shop for Russian goodies, eat yummy food and have a lovely afternoon talking with other women about all things Molokan.

    If you would like to learn more about The Heritage Club their address is

    The Heritage Club
    P.O. Box H, Downey, CA 90241

    If you would like to sit at my table in April 2009 please send me an email. Thanks, Anastasia

  29. Greetings from sunny Adelaide in South Australia

    Loved the article on the Molokans and what a great testimony that your family has in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I have been a committed christian for almost 33 years (made a personal commitment at 6 years of age) and have researched a lot about other religions, cults etc. so as to be well informed when sharing with others about my faith.

    When my next door neighbours moved in about four years ago (Jakob and Illana) I noticed that they were friendly but quite reserved. Both had American accents, were of Russian descent and wore the clothing you have described above during certain times. Because of my research I recognised them as Molokans and asked the question – they were staggered that I even knew who they were; even more so when I aksed if they were Constants or Jumpers.

    Through a strange series of events I have since undertaken consulting work for a Molokan businessman in the waste industry and one in the real estate industry and as recent as today (December 12, 2007) my wife had the opportunity to share with a lady at the shops who is also a Molokan. How amazing. Maybe I have a ministry to the Molokan church? LOL 🙂 – that would be a challenge, but nothing worthwhile is easy.

    Illana’s family is mainly in Western Australia, the lady (Jill) that my wife met today is from L.A. and the two businesmen are both from the US also (both California I believe). I have now had the pleasure of many discussions with my neighbours and have challenged them about their personal faith (large fear factor which is probably understandable given the ostracizing that would take place from friends and family) – for that is what I am constrained to do!

    Jesus died so that none may perish but all come to a saving knowledge of him. Through persecution the Molokan church was born and through compassion it can be brought back to Christ.

    I’ll keep sharing! But how amazing that in a small city such as Adelaide, through a series of unrelated events, I have had the chance to meet quite a number from what is a small Molokan community here in South Australia.

    God bless you

    Andrew Graham

    Hi Andrew,
    What a blessing your comment is to me. I’ll be emailing you shortly. God bless you…

    • Hi Andrew,

      That is very interesting. I have lots of family in Adelaide. My brother married a girl from there, now lives there, and I have cousins and aunts also. All are Molokan. It would be funny if we new the same people.


  30. I loved the article. I grow up in East Los Angeles, my grandparnets settle there when they came to the United States. We did belong to Big Church. I have a freind who parents made the headstone for the Molokens funerals, as they still do today. I truly loved going to church and miss it very much. My fathers last name was Volkoff, and my mothers last name was Beliakoff. If anyboday out there has anyone of these last names, please let me know.

    Thank you.

    Hi Janine,
    I’ll ask my parents if they remember your people. There were Volkoff’s at Kern Ave. where we went after Big Church. My parents are 84 now and they have forgotten some names and faces…

    • I am a cousin to Janine Volkoff…my mother, Nell Beliakoff, was Jean Beliakoff’s sister(Janine’s mother). My mother married outside the church but, since we lived behind Babunia in East L.A.., my mother drove her to the Russian Molokan church on Lorena St. and attended church with her. I remember the long table that we children sat at where we had wonderful Russian food and fellowship. I recall drinking chai from glasses and putting a row of sugar cubes across near the top of the glass. And the lapsha was delicious. Afterwards, we’d get semechki from a truck. The pounding on the floor of the jumpers scared me as a child, even though the doors were closed, but to this day I remember the beautiful singing I heard, which was very spiritual. My Babunia was an inspiration for me and I feel blessed for this exposure to religion; however remote it was. I am doing geneology research and wonder if anyone knows of an Evan L. Nazaroff, who was listed as an uncle to my grandfather, Michael Beliakoff and his brother Vasili on a 1907 immigration page. Your article is so informative and I thank you for all the useful information. It’s a wonderful read. Blessings to you.

      • the EVON Leisayitch Nazaroff you referred to was born approx 1843? passed away in Kerman California in 1917,,,,he was my great grandfather

  31. Hello Ellen: I was born and raised on Potrero Hill and nurtured by my Baba. Emma Afinsoff. I used to attend the Molokan services at 841 Carolina St., just a few doors away from 813 Carolina where we lived with my grandma. My memories of the church in the 1940s were rather scary and somewhat offputting with regard to he attitude of the men that ran the proceedings. The high points were the protection of my Baba side and the food,basically the Lapsha that was served,although I was very careful to avoid the parts in lthe bowls that were touched by the rough and hairy and sometimes off putting body odor of the men. I do not know much about my familys history and have not been in touch with anyone from my San Francisco past. As of late I have become interested in gleaning what I can about my Baba. Any information you or others may have would be greatly appreciated. I am interested only in the truth, warts and all. We are all imperfect and if we do not have the truth we have nothing. Again thank you. Sincerely David Nicholas Alexander (Afinsoff-Afinoff- Afasaniev Sp.?)

    Hi David,
    We had friends that went to Portrero. (We were from LA) I’ll ask my parents if they knew your baba. They are losing some of their memory (they’re 84) so I’ll see what I can find out if anything. Ha! I’m cracking up about the olfactory memories you have. I think I know what you are talking about. My mom just gave us all lopsha noodles for Christmas. Blessings…

    • I was conducting a search on my surname and came across you.

      David, we are related. Baba was my great great grandmother. Mother to Morris Alexander and grandmother to my father Michael Afinsoff.

      Is there a way to communicate? I’d very much like to touch base.

      Ellen, thank you for this wonderful website! Growing up my father would talk about the Molokans. Your site has helped piece together many memories. There is so much I never knew and excited to learn.

    • Greetings Cousin David,
      Your mother and mine, were sisters. In recent years I have been piecing together clues about our shared, Finnish grandmother who died in 1925. Several years ago I had found an email address connected to your restaurant, which by then had already been closed. I am hoping that The Happy Wanderer ~ ellen b. will allow my email address to be passed along to you privately.
      Warm Wishes, Christine

  32. Good Day!

    I noticed that in your opening paragraph the sentence:

    The Molokans (Russian: Молока́не) are a “Biblically-based” religious movement, among Russian peasants (serfs), who broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1550s.

    Why did you place the term “Biblically-based” in quotation marks?

    The research I’ve done would indicate they are not “Biblically-based” and in fact have a whole other book of “spiritual material” called the Spirit & Life

    Unfortunately it’s neither Spirit nor Life but a compendium of anti-Biblical heresies.

    What is more telling, you will find this book in most every single Molokan Church

    It certainly does not have any place in any true Christian Church

    If you are a Christian, I would make sure you recognize the name Molokan is not truly equated with Christianity especially in the 21st century but is more akin to a cult like Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses

    All the best and Blessings to you

    • Hi Bob Z.,
      I put that in quotes because although they believe they are I find them to be something else. My problem is with their false prophet and the Spirit and Life writings from their false prophet. I also have a problem with the fact that they do not go into all the world and preach the gospel. So no, I do not believe they are a true Christian church and they are even closer to Muslims than to Mormon’s, but very close to Jehovah Witnesses.

  33. Hi Ellen,

    I am so glad that I came across your Blog. I am of Russian decent through both of my parents. They were married in Big Church. Although my parents divorced when my brother and I were young, we still would go there for weddings, funerals (doings), how I remember them being phrased as. My father and grandmother, (babunya) still attend.

    When it was our weekend to go with my father he would take us to the UMCA Sunday School , in Hacienda Heights. I even attended Idyllwild Camp a few times during the summer.

    As with most kids, there are different clicks of friends. Well, I was never part of one and did not have friends. I would hang out with my cousins, but as there started establishing there own friends, I got isolated. I ultimately stopped coming around and married out. I do miss the singing and seeing the Holy Spirit come through the jumping. I am sadden that my children are not aloud to experience what I grew up knowing.

    Maybe your parents know my grandmother, Frances (Fuzzy) Tickenoff.

    God Bless You,

    Hi Donna, I’m happy you found my blog and commented here. I hope that through the saving grace of Jesus Christ you will experience the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. You can have that wherever you are when you are in relationship with Jesus Christ. Blessings on you and your children…

  34. Hi!
    I have read all these blogs and found someone who is my relative! Luba Bizaiff said her aunt’s are Dorothy, Mary, Lou and Anna. Those are my Babunyas sisters! I wasnt expecting to find someone I know on here 🙂
    Thanks for opening the blog!

    To Antranik:
    My husband came from Armenia and we went there last month. Most of the Molokans there are Preehunee but I suppose there is some Postayanee there also. If you know any names please share them!

    Nadzeshda, Happy that you could find a connection with your relatives here. Blessings…

      • Hi ladies, I’m wondering if this blog is still active (I know it’s over 10 years old, but a friend just shared it with me). My babunya was Mary P. Nazaroff, which would make us step-cousins! My dyeda was Vacilli I. Nazaroff, my father was Ed W. Nazaroff. I grew up in the Molokan community in Adelaide, South Australia. I left the Molokan church in 2005, for all the reasons Ellen cites above, and though I love and miss them from a distance, I don’t look back. How fun to find familiar names here!

  35. Hello, I came across your website while searching for various Molokan names.

    My grandparents (John Fred Poppin & Hazel Nick (Seminoff) Poppin) lived at 879 Rhode Island Street on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, CA. My father married ‘out’ and I did not have an opportunity to know my Russian family. Growing up in SF was tough. My family did not have a car until the 50’s, so I may have visited with my grandparents about eight times. I went to both of their funerals. That was the first time I had been in the Molokan Church and seen a Molokan funeral.

    In 2000, my father was getting up in years and I offered to help him write his autobiography. It took much digging, phone calling and researching. During that time I felt more Russian than I ever have in the past. I was finding my roots, relatives and making new friends.

    Andy Conovaloff started up the Molokan message board on Ancestry. That was a haven for me because during my research I had collected obituaries, marriage, and death and birth certificate transcriptions. You name it and I had it. Before I knew it I felt a calling to do more, so I concentrated on Potrero Hill and the Molokans there and beyond. I traced families and found even more relatives. There are well over 3,000 entries on the message board. Check it out………you may find something to help you with your family’s history.

    My next big project was the Russian Sectarian Cemetery. My cousins Ann (Pappin) and Bill Loskutoff were ‘caretakers’ of the cemetery. I had not met my cousins and I met them at the cemetery of all places. I took digital photos of the headstones and indexed the burial plots. Those records are all on Little by little I’m compiling short bios for the people buried at the cemetery and will post on the findagrave website. Many of those buried at the cemetery are my relatives.

    I no longer live in California. I moved to Ocala Florida in 2003 and teach 9th grade reading. I went to Mercy High in San Francisco and CCSF for a short time. My father is George John Poppin and he taught at Galileo HS in San Francisco, CA.

    I’ll be back to see what others have written. Thank you for your site.

    Nancy (Poppin) Posey

    Hi Nancy, I’m glad you found my blog and other sites that you find helpful to your research. My Aunt Anna married a Loscutoff. His family lived in Sheridan. Blessings….

    • What a find. Accidentally located this website since I have recently become quite interested in genealogy. I am a mix of Irish and Russian (Molokan). I am 2nd generation Daniloff. My grandperents were John & Mary. My mpther was (Doris), their oldest daughter. I have great memories of Potrero Hill. My grandparents lived @ 743 Rhode Island. I will be checking this website oftern & am especially impressed with the Molokan information that begins this site. Always great to find relatives, especially since I am now getting older and want to locate all the information I can to pass on to my children and grandchildren.


  36. I found this website looking for paska recipes and i think it’s wonderful. I grew up in the Molokan church, I went to what was called hilltop church in Monterey park, CA. i really enjoyed reading all the blogs and the article. This site is wonderful!

  37. it amazes me how many people posting on this site used to be Molokans. They reminisce about how wonderful it used to be as a Molokan, attending weddings and other social functions. Yet none bothered to marry in the church to still be part of it in the future, and now complain that their children cannot enjoy what they did. There is nothing comparable to the Molokan church in American society, and to say about Jesus in some denominational church is not an adequate replacement for Jesus in the Molokan church. A site such as this is disheartening.
    I married a Molokan and so did our 3 offspring, and we love our Molokan church and actively participate in it. I feel sorry for the balance of you that only have memories.

    Dan, Who is Jesus in the Molokan church? I’d love to hear what you believe about Jesus and if it’s what the Molokan church teaches about Jesus.

  38. Its interesting how some of us Molokans by birth have the same story. When I read the above comments, it’s as though I wrote each of them. As a kid growing up, the Molokans freaked me out. The way they jumped an stuff didn’t seem normal, making me abnormal in a cold war world where any Russian was to be disdained. But one thing for sure, my grandfather, a hard core Molokan, continually preached to me, the hell and condemnation message, which I am sure eventually let to me receiving Jesus Christ, and before being saved, I had a profound respect for the Holy Spirit. Through my grandfather, I was acutely aware of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I don’t think My grandfather (getha), knew how to lead anyone to Jesus as Savior. As at the time, any Molokan for that matter. They pounded religion into me instead of a personal relationship with God. I love being unique in that I can say, I survived the Molokans! Yes I love them too!

    • As my mother would tell me growing up, we Molokans try to remember the happier things in live and not dwel on the sadder points. I myself remember the big church fondly.

  39. Wow! This is incredible. Great job. Your story is exactly like how I remember going to the church in Boyle Heights as a kid.

  40. Ellen, you mentioned in my post #41 that you aunt Anna married a Loscutoff; they lived in Sheridan.Would you please email me and let me know who your aunt is and the name of her husband? I have many Loscutoff/Loskutoff relatives. My father lived in Sheridan when he was young. My GGM was a Popoff.

    Many thanks.

  41. I too was brought up in a Molokan Church as a Morozoff. My family still belongs to Hilltop Church in Monterey Park, CA. I was also brought up to believe that the Molokans were the way to go. I love the church, the strong beliefs, but still cant understand if you marry out your no good. Your family disowns you. I don’t believe if you marry out GOD will not like it, as long as you believe you will be saved. I am now living in PA since my divorce 4 years ago. I miss my family but am happier then I have ever been.

  42. Hi!
    I’m really glad that I found this site!!
    First I would like to say that the way the original molokans believed when the Holy Spirit first was outpoured upon them was different then the way it is at the present time. In the beginning they lived by Faith and Love in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. They Believed and so they acted. Presently, they act as though they believe. It has become a ritual instead of a relationship.
    And most think that by fulfilling this or that, that’s all that is needed of them by God, [marrying inside the faith, going to church, speaking russian, etc…] So please don’t think that all molokans think the same. Well, that’s my two cents, Thanks again!!!!!!

  43. It’s interesting to read these posts about how Molokans shun and ostracize for marrying out of their own religious “cult”, but no one here is talking about how hypocritical they are, especially with what they eat. They’re all about “do as I say, not as I do”. I was brought up around Molokans and saw them first hand, eating pork behind closed doors (especially bacon), shellfish, and drinking alcohol. Some are even alcoholics, but keep on drinking anyway. A lot of their own children are out-of-control with drinking and partying, and their Molokan parents are too ignorant to even know about what their children are REALLy doing!

    Most are very prejudice of other nationalities as well. They’re supposed to be Christians and accept ALL of God’s people, but yet, they don’t. They go to great extents to avoid other “types” of people.

    Then this stuff about Jumpers and getting the Holy Spirit. Yeah, right, during a church service, the men, all of a sudden, tend to get the Holy Spirit ALL at the same time. Give me a break. This is SO ridiculous. It’s all an act, just as most of their phoney Russian accents that I’ve seen and heard, many times in Big Church on Lorena, and at their cemetery on Slauson. Most were not born and bred in Russia, and some have never even been there, but yet, they talk and act like they’re from Russia. I just have to laugh when I hear some of them chat, and knowing their REAL family backgrounds.

    They need to wake up and smell the roses, and get a grip on reality, in the REAL world around them! They’re not the chosen ones, although, they really think they are. Being a Molokan, isn’t going to give them a direct ticket into Heaven, but most, think it will.

    Well, everyone is being open and honest here, just thought I’d add my 2 cents in here too!

  44. I used to be a Molokan, as some of thet posts, but if you “marry out” in the states you can no longer participate in the faith. Different then if you are in Russia. Unfortunately the desire to keep the faith pure in the states as driven Christians away from the faith unless you are willing to find, and in my case settle for one in the faith.

    I was told various times “how can you dishonor your parents by marring out”, but never once was my happiness was considered. I was assured damnation if I leave the faith. Never once did they consider the fact that the parents were not doing what is best for me. They were blind by keeping the faith, not a relationship with Christ.

    Most molokans are so strong on keeping the faith that they have lost the true meaning of Christianity. A persons relationship with Christ.

    I love most parts of the Molokan faith, but like all religions, how can you be part of something that seperates you other Christians. I know they believe that they are the tribe of Jacob, and chosen by God, but every eclectic faith has their own reason for why they are chosen. Look at the snake handlers or the Davidians.

    I will not discuss the manifistation of the holy spirit. I believe this is a dangerous ground to tread upon, especially if you have never been a Molokan.

  45. “I will not discuss the manifistation of the holy spirit. I believe this is a dangerous ground to tread upon, especially if you have never been a Molokan.”

    Dangerous ground? How so?

  46. I welcome your comments and dialog here and I don’t always chime in.

    Being disowned and ostracized is never easy to deal with and I’m sorry for those of you who have had to deal with this in your lives.

    There is a great truth in God’s word that should bring believers/disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ lots of comfort and joy.

    “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    Romans 8: 38-39

  47. Hi Ellen –

    It’s Sandra again from the Central Valley. While it’s been awhile since I posted I do stop from time to time. I want to tell you again how much I appreciate your website, you truly are a colorful and creative person. My maiden name is Mendrin and my mom was a Kochergen. Is the family that you talk about visiting possibly my Uncle John Kochergen’s?

    I was also wondering if you have an archive for the recipes that you had previously posted. I oohed and awed over many of them but failed to print them out.

    Thanks again Ellen, talk to you soon.


    Hi Sandy, The Kochergens we visited are the ones with the twins Vera and Nadia who are in their late 50’s now. If you go under categories and click on Russian Recipes you should be able to archive all the recipes I’ve posted! I’m glad you enjoy my blog. Blessings…

  48. Pingback: Married Molokan Women « The Happy Wonderer

  49. Wow – this brought up some stirring posts. Best part was the food! Big church Borsch!!! Cucumbers and fresh bread! Fatty meat with baked eggs – sugar bridges on tea glasses! and bring on the fruit at the end.

    My family also left the Molokan church many years ago, 60’s. Shortly before my parents died (Alex and Ouliana Bogdanof) my Uncle John Bogdanoff passed away and we went to his funeral at Big Church. I vowed never to go back because the people were so rude to me and my family. None of them spoke Russian and were surprised because I looked like a neenash but spoke Russian.

    I treasure my heritage, can still speak the language and love to hear the singing. I feel sad that the Molokans don’t understand or are not taught what it is like to have a relationship with our Lord and Saviour.

    I am so grateful that my parents had a relationship with the Lord and that they left the Molokan church. My father was a godly man and I miss him so!

    Thanks Ellen for your posts! Good times and heritage will not get you in Heaven.

    Some of the ladies in the post look familiar – where did you get the picture?

  50. WOW Ellen…I Googled Molokan from your most recent blog on it (I guess, I can’t even remember now, and I just read it tonight!!)…anyway, there you were about the fourth post down on Google, right under Wikipedia (which I read all the way through)!!! All your research and writing about your ancestory is pretty amazing. Ry and Michelle have shared some of it with me, especially about your Dad and his heart for the “lost Molokans” back in Russia. All the people who have posted above have been very interesting to read. It’s something that the West Coast Russians are soooo connected. Well, that boy of mine sure put a crimp in that, huh….his heritage is a mish-mash! 🙂 Luv you and God Bless

  51. Hi, Ellen my names Paul Sakrekoff IV. And I’ve been interested in studying my families history as well so I ended up stumbling upon this blog, and I would just like to thank you for posting this. I’m never sure whats true and whats not when I ask my grandparents since they are now divorced and always saying the complete opposite on things but they both were born and raised in east LA. But your blog has made a lot of things clear for me and once again I’d like to thank you.

    • I remember your dad and your uncle Peter. My Aunt Susanne was good friends with your great-grandparents. Feel free to drop me a line if you want.

  52. I got such a kick out of reading these posts… ahhhhh, the memories!

    My father was born into Big Church, therefore, by default, that was my church. Granted, we lived out of the way so our family attendance was limited to weddings and funerals. For a few years we became part of the young “scene” with cousins (Valoff’s, Klistoff’s and Chernabaeff’s) and friends. Now, as an adult I’m able to look back fondly at so many of the things I took advantage of as a youngster and young adult. By that I mean the Molokan’s are SUCH a close-knit community… if you’re Molokan, you’re family… period.

    Whenever my sisters and I were in L.A., Kerman, Madera, Porterville or Woodburn (OR), there were only open doors and open arms even if you’ve never met the family you were staying with before. In this day and time, it’s unfathomable. Ahhh… the good ole’ days of loading up the trucks and heading north with cousins/sisters/friends just to go to a party in some far off field in Fresno.

    Last year I ventured back into Molokan territory when I attended funerals for my Baboonia and uncle. Of course I’ve always known “the rules” for marrying a neenosh, but even so, it was startling how blatantly unwelcome my mere presence was in Big Church. I see that quite a few of the posters here know only too well what I’m talking about. I loved my Baboonia more than I can explain (and she played a MEAN game of Skip-bo I tell ya!) and nothing was going to stop me from paying my respects. Luckily, I have the most supportive family (and extended family) who helped a lot.

    I’ll say this about the experience though, I understand and appreciate the reverence towards the religion, customs and principals. I may not agree with some (especially aspects of the religion), but I appreciate them. Truly, it’s a birthright and is something to be proud of.

  53. Hi There,

    I have a couple really great bread receipts for your readers.

    I am in South Australia and make bread all of the time. If you are interested please contact me I was not to sure how to put them on your site.

    Contact me via email.

    I also am a fashion designer. I have made many weeding dresses for the public. And many gowns for the the church community.

    I would love to share my sewing skills with the girls. to acheive a very high standard.

  54. Good day all visitors! For the last three yaers I tried to find people with names Strelnikoff, Semiletoff, Glazoff and Agapoff in USA and Australia. I’ve got big family trees and I’ll be glad to make them more big. Call me in Moscow 8-985-761-61-76 or write me

  55. hello

    very interesting site! I stumbled across it by accident, searching for some family names, etc, molokan history.

    Thank you for having such a site, especially for the ability for all of those who, for one reason or another, have left the molokan faith, yet still have some tie, emotional or family, to give them a chance to reminisce. Thank you for all your efforts. Anyway…

    I want to make a comment, not only for support, but for a defense of the Molokan Faith and its christian background. First I will agree with someones comment that the faith has changed and it appears that todays molokan faith is very stringent & somewhat legalistic, than in the beginnings of the makeup and establishment of the Molokane. And that it appears that the teaching of Christ is distant. but not really so – not for some current practising molokans!!! We may be in the minority, but we do exist! We attend and are members of the community, preghuny community, love our Lord Jesus Christ and have a deep respect for the faith provided us ( the following generations) by our Forefathers…

    … What I started to say was, that one of our prominent preceptors of the Molokan Faith, “Uklein”, went out to the people of the community (russia, at the time) and preached, shared & professed the Gospel of Jesus Christ – as Lord and Savior for all mankind. He did not only go to the Molokans of the time, but to all, with the Gospel-new testament under his arm!!! And with his fiery love for his Lord (and mine) converted many to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

    It is to this faith that I belong. Molokan means this. Maybe today, some disillusioned members may have some radical thinking, but true molokans understand that God is in three featurs – The Three are of one Essence. As a practising Preghuny (jumper) Molokan – MGR a God Annointed Prophet whos divinely inspired revelations God, are chronicled in the Book of Spirit and Life, says: I will now give you an explanation of God – God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit.

    That is our faith – Molokanism.

  56. I understand the Christian background of the Molokan faith. It’s very encouraging that you have a love for the Lord and believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. You lost me, though, with your reference to the Book of Spirit and Life. This Book is a huge disconnect for me with the Molokan faith.

  57. That is the main problem, for many. And that is sad.

    I don’t believe that MGR, one of the writers, divinely inspired of God to reveal His plans to a “receiving” people, desired that a people be so confused because of the writings contained therein.

    He himself was a “Jesus Freak”. and any reference to any other diety (most commonly mis-understood that he referred to himself personally, as a feature of diety) is due to complete misinterpretation of the revelations contained in the book Spirit & Life. Remember, God divinely inspired a man to write/reveal His revelations, so when there is a “First Person” reference, it is more commonly accepted by the majority of Molokan Preghuny that it is the person of God’s Spirit or the “Spirit of Truth”. Not Maxim.

    Although, a small sect of (as was earlier stated) a sub-sect of Molokan prehguny, take the writings literally & place a diety classification on this particular writer.

    My comment at the end of the last post was referencing the inference that some Molokans, including MGR, accepted the Trinity of God. Not the “Doctrine”, per se; because doctrines (many of them exist) were instituted by a consortium of men – councils if you will, for a people to follow mans thought. Anyway, The understanding of God – three features of diety is complex, Apostle Paul himself attempted to relay this understanding: “…Great is the Mystery of Godliness” I Timothy 3:16

    Molokans are not off base, as some intended to insinuate.

    Thank you for the reply

  58. Medic,
    So is your faith Molokanism or is your faith a faith based on the work of Jesus Christ who is the way the truth and the life. Do you have to be Molokan to have faith. I don’t. My faith is based on the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and what God did for me by sending His Son to die on the cross for me and by His resurrection that gives power to His message. The mystery revealed is that Jesus Christ came at the fullness of time to live a perfect life, die as the lamb of God and be raised to life again on the third day and thus redeem our fallen world to God. The blood of Jesus is the only thing that saves us and assures us our salvation. Do you believe that and do you have the Hope of heaven to look forward to. My older Molokan friends do not know that they will be in heaven, they say they can not know. They resist faith in Jesus as the only way. They cling to their Molokan faith not faith in Jesus. I can go to any church that believes that Jesus Christ is the only way for salvation and that preaches the word of God from the Bible (only) and be on the “same page” and worship in unity. Would I be welcome at your church to worship Jesus Christ side by side with you because I’m a born again believer but not a Molokan? Would I be considered your sister in Christ even though I’m not a Molokan and do not accept the prophecy of Maxim?

    “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.”

  59. I can’t sleep tonight and I was wandering around all of the sites that include Kars…did you know that the name of the area means “snow” ? I now live in Washington, DC but I always miss East L.A. and the old Russian graveyard in the cemetary district. The headstores are chisled in Russian and I hope it is properly noted as an important historical site. I go there always when I am in East L.A. I have been into Siberia and spent time in Russia, but I have always identified most closely with the Siberians. I saw so many beautiful people with aspects of Mongol, Russian, Buryat, etc. Oddly enough, I have a man in my life whose family comes from Lebanon and whose great grandfather was also a religious letter who comes from a group know as Meronites. I don’t know much about the Molokons before they landed in Kars. Do we know? I would like to know also if they migrated pre-World War 1 via Latin America over the Andes….the Meronite family I know did that but stayed in Santiago. Central Asia is so full of these stories!!!! Thanks.

  60. Dear Mr.Kheryn Kllubnikin! I’v got a lot of information about the Molokans before they landed in Kars. But too little about families lived in Kars area. I could send you what you are interesting on your mail. With regard Strelnikov German

  61. This is a great site!. Am enjoying reading about the memories of life in the Flats. Keep up the good work!

    I am a descendant of the Armenian Molokan community and have been doing research on our family history for some years. We came from Karakala village in the Kars region and am still trying to find out which of the four Karakala villages in Turkey is the Armenian Karakala. If anybody remembers hearing about this village I would appreciate the information.

    • Joyce, My Grandfather came from Kars/Karakala village also! I have worshipped in the Armenian Pentecostal Church in LA as a child and everything I have seen and heard tells me it was part of the Molokan religion. Our last name is Mushegian. Aram was my grandfather and we are cousins of the Shakarians. God Bless, Sheila

    • To answer your question about Karakala, it was a Russian sub-station that was destroyed after the Turks came through and did away with the Armenians.

  62. Dear Ellen , your brother fred is my bible study teacher at the u m c a .
    HE’S THE BEST WE HAVE . Why did he leave his church to come back to the Molokan christian faith?

    Hi Alan,
    Thank you for your comment.
    Fred was never a member of any other church but the Molokan church…
    I know Fred has charisma and he knows how to teach and I don’t doubt he’s the best you have…

  63. Im looking for friends of my Uncle Abe Androff who was in the
    Glendale College Hall of Fame, he was a Basketball coach in the 50s. He is now in his 80s.Growing up in East LA. and playing at the Pecan St. Playground,he has many happy memories.So anyone out there that remembers him,he would love to be in touch.
    His best friends were Bill Abakumoff, Bill Bogdonoff,George Millnakoff,and Chic Partonoff.
    Cousins were Morrie Uroff ,Morrie and Rae Androff.
    Contact me at []
    Marilyn[Andrews] Greek

  64. Hi Ellen,

    My friend came across your website while she was looking up some Russian recipes. She called me the next day and told me that she was reading a blog of a woman who had grown up going to my grandparents house in Kerman CA. Steve and Elena Kochergen.
    I am the oldest daughter of Mike Kochergen, the twins are his sister’s. I really appreciated reading your blog, because I have now married out of the Molokan church and have my own family. I agree with a lot of your view points. I just really enjoyed seeing the connection to my family. My grandparents have been gone for 10+ & 4 years…and I just lost my dad last year….I miss them.

    Valerie Kochergen Stash

    • How nice to hear from you Valerie. Your aunts and I had some fun times when we were little. I’ve seen your aunts recently at a funerals in L.A. It was always a fun experience to be at your grandparents farm being a city girl :0) I’m sorry to hear that your dad passed away last year. Blessings on you and your family!

  65. A lot of information here on this web site but all opinions. One point I would like to make about being married out and called an outcast. Not so, in the bible, the tower of Babble. All tongue’s were twised and everyone spoke different languages and God said, now stay with your own kind. That is what us Molokans beleive, exactly the way it is written. I have a brother married out. He comes to some functions but can’t participate in our ritual as he knew before getting married out. Maybe start a Molokan church that accepts outsiders. Don’t blast anyone for their beleifs, accept it an move on. We are still brothers and sisters in Gods eye. All of my memories have been pleasant of the Molokan Church for the past 62 years as all have said on this site. I do feel bad for those who miss the Molokan faith. Many of my friends and relatives have had the same feeling after being married out. I speak very little Russian but as I sit here at this computer, I am listening to recorded church songs as I do most of the time. By the way, I was raised in Kerman and still attend the Molokan Church in Kerman. And proud of my heritage and the Molokan faith.

    • Yakov, In answer to your comment here is a wise biblical interpretation from a Bible Scholar of what has happened since the Tower of Babel and where we as believers stand today…

      “Redemption is the reversal of the confusion of nations, the blessing and promise to Abraham is to bless all nations, and the NT application of this is that the sons of Abraham are not defined by national boundaries, rather now by our attachment to God through faith in Christ, and an unequally yoked marriage is not a marriage between people of different nationalities, rather it is between believer and unbeliever. The tower of Babel is reversed at Pentecost when people are joined together even though they speak different languages. Weirdness always ignores the obvious.”

    • Yakov, you said ” ..and God said, now stay with your own kind.” I am sorry, but that statement is not contained in the narrative of Genesis chapter 11. God gave instructions to Adam to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth, bringing it under dominion like the Garden of Eden was. God repeated these instructions to Noah after the flood. After Cain killed Abel, God’s punishment for Cain was that he would be a vagabond, wandering the earth and unable to settle and grow food. Cain, in direct rebellion to God, settled in one place, built the first city so as to depend on himself.

      That is the context for what God did at Babel. Since mankind was yet again disobeying God’s command to spread out and bring the earth under dominion, but instead was clustering tightly into man made cities, in this case to literally try and get to heaven on their own without God, God did what was necessary to force them to spread out across the face of the earth. Where did God say “now stay with your own kind” in relation to this? It’s not what God told Abram to do, is it? It’s not what God caused for Joseph (son of Jacob), or for Moses, Jonah, or for Paul. The fundamental message of the New Covenant scriptures is that, in Christ Jesus, the middle wall of partition is broken down (temple imagery) and now there is no longer Jew, Gentile, man, woman, but we are New Creations in Christ. I have to say, Ellen has captured this well in her response.

  66. Hi Ellen,

    Great blog. I’m of Molokan descent also – and am ostrasized from the faith. Sigh. . . . I’m in the process of gathering information about the Molokan history to put it in a novel so the Molokan history can be passed on to my nieces and nephews. Do you know where I can get a copy of the Spirit of Life book by the Molokan prophet Maxim Gavrilovich Rudometkin? I’d like to find out more about what happened in his life for so many people to follow him as a prophet. The Bible does not evidence any prophets beyond the Old Testament, so Rudometkin is somewhat of a mystery to me.

    • A question for Debbie, just what would you call the book of REVELATION? I do believe that’s in the New Testament, (at least it is in my Bible)

  67. is this site a gathering of the clan or what? sort of takes me back to my childhood, growing up in kerman….by the way, this is a great site.

  68. Hello All ,
    Max, I could not help but notice your post and I am so excited to see some family names I recognize. My last name was Mana before getting married and my fathers Aunt Nell married a Shubin (I hope I have this “history” right.) My father is Ron Mana and he as well as his brothers and sisters (Butch Mana, Gayle Mana, Roseann Mana, and Pat Mana) were practically raised on the Shubin farm in Kerman California (The helped with the cotton picking and grape picking in the summer) My Great Aunt Nell was married to my Great Uncle Abe Shubin and believe their kids were my Uncles Walt and Gary Shubin. My grandmother Sarah (Sadie) Mana and grandfather Frank Mana were also related to the Kobseff’s (My grandmothers maiden name) who were also by marriage related to David, Nickie and Max Bizieff (I have a picture of all of them as kids in Kerman I think one might be you) I am very very excited to try and find some of my father (Ronnie Mana’s) relatives if anyone knows my family please update me, we are having a big 70th birthday party for him in March. My email addresses are (please use both) and

  69. Hello! Thank you Ellen for sharing your story. I come from the Russian Pastayane Molokans in San Francisco. My dad (Peter Nikolai Kostrikin) passed away almost 5 years ago, and was an assistant minister there before his death. I have been helping my mom (Luba Nick Korneff Kostrikin) organize old photos and documents, especially from my dad’s family, and have found myself obsessed with diving into my family’s rich heritage and history.

    My dad’s family came from Georgia, Russia in the 19-teens and settled in Iran for 20 years, where my dad was born, #11 of 12 children. They lived in Israel for a couple more years before coming to the US. They settled first in LA, then moved to Oregon. After my dad finished high school he moved with his parents to SF until he married my mom, and his parents passed away. They moved to Redwood City. My mom’s family is also from Russia, and she was born in L.A.. Her family lived in the Central Valley for most of her young life, but are now spread from Oregon to Arizona. She currently resides in Fresno.

    You asked throughout your above comments how Jesus is represented in the Molokan church, so I will share my experience. I grew up going to the SF church from birth (1977). My dad was heavily involved (singer, assistant minister, helped document and organize the Russian cemetery plots in Colma) since he lived in SF beginning in 1966. He taught me and my sister how to speak, read and write Russian, often using the Russian Bible. In Sunday School we learned that Jesus was the Son of God, the Christ. His teachings were taught constantly in SS and church upstairs (main assembly). We grew up knowing the stories and celebrating the holidays of Christ’s birth (Christmas) and death and resurrection (Easter). What I learned from my church family became a great foundation of truth as I went off to college at UCSB. I joined a couple Christian groups and developed valuable relationships in the Christian community there. There I came to personally know and follow my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    My parents encouraged me and my sister to get to know the ‘kids’ in LA and Fresno, and we went to the UMCA camp as early as we could (starting in middle school). We have family in LA and Fresno as well, so we visited as often as we could and my sister and I developed great friendships with the kids there. However, we never felt fully accepted by the communities there. Afterall, we were from the San Francisco Pastayane church, and these were the Priguny churches. Nevertheless, the love of Christ reigned in my heart and as I grew to learn more about the Priguny churches and what they believed, especially when it came to following the teachings of Maxim Gavrilich Rudometkin in the Book of Spirit and Life, I knew God was directing me away. Even though I come from such a rich and wonderful heritage, my Lord showed me love and life and community in meeting my husband in college and living in the East Bay Area (Danville), attending a wonderful Christ-following church.

    I love my family and extended family and have much to learn about their stories. I am thankful that many still accept me since I married a ne-nash, and for those who don’t, it’s really their loss. I am thankful to have come across your blog and have read your story, and I look forward to reading future comments and tid-bits.

    Thank you,
    Natasha (

  70. Hi Natasha,
    We had lots of postayani friends growing up and we made several trips to San Francisco. There are a lot of good things I learned in the Molokan church, too. Our Sunday schools also taught about Jesus. My father’s church broke away from Big church so they could celebrate Easter and Christmas as some of the Molokan churches don’t. I never was comfortable with the “Russian Only” concept of the church. I understand that there is a fear of losing the “tradition” and their identity. I choose my identity to be with Christ instead of the Molokan church. I love being Russian and having our traditions but they don’t come before the Sovereignty of Christ for me. Maxim is another really sticky point with me. The one thing that really stood out to my pop when he accepted Christ was his first time sense of the Holy Spirit living in him and helping him to understand the Bible. He knew immediately that this was something new and he didn’t have it before he became a believer. I’ll have to ask my parents if they remember your father. Their memories aren’t real good anymore. I’m glad you are enjoying sorting through those memories. Blessings on you and yours!

  71. I as well as my sister and many many cousins, aunts and uncles are products of my Grandmother whose maiden name was Chernikov. She was shunned for this ridiculous idea of ‘marrying out’ and we are very familiar with the muttering of ‘nyeenosh’ under the breath. There was a family reunion in L.A. in 1989 that provided the family history, the story of her father coming to america and an extensive family tree. It is an interesting subject to me to say the least. All of her descendents now live in the Pennsylvania area but my mother and uncle have visited our relatives in L.A. and some in Australia. None of us are religious anymore.

  72. WOW! What an amazing find. My husbands family is Russian – they left the Molokan church when he was small. We are born again Christians, saved by grace and grace alone. However his extended family and grandparents are still practicing Molokans. I googled information on dress for funerals and your link popped up. My husbands grandfather is not well and we anticipate a trip to LA for a big church funeral in the near future.

    I was so touched by Deborah Treguboff Carr’s comment – my husband and I have adopted from Ethiopia and are in the process of a second adoption. Knowing the Molokan beliefs this was a concern for us. However watching my husbands grandparents embrace, love and cherish our son has been one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen. Hearing her tribute to her Grandmother “sugar” warms my heart.

    Thank you for this blog. I’m going to pass it along to my mother in law. I love reading about this part of my husbands ancestors. As is traditional Molokan style I’m sure someone knows someone related to my husbands family. 🙂


  73. Hi Ellen!
    I enjoyed reading the history of the Molokan’s on your blog. My husband grew up in Monterey Park, CA and when we were dating we would often drive by the First Molokan Christian Church of Monterey Park. I had to know for myself what their background and religion were. Their group seemed rather foreign to me, being a born again Christian. I was curious and was pleasantly surprised to find your blog on my search. I do have a sort of funny question though, I hope you don’t mind my asking. I noticed that none of the Molokan church members drive foreign cars. All of them seem to drive american made cars. Is there a reason for that?

    • That’s an interesting observation Rhiannon. I do know of Molokans who drive foreign cars. Growing up it seemed all the families had American made cars but today I’m sure they are more diverse. I never heard any teaching against foreign cars.

      • No, there is no teaching against foreign cars. 🙂 I’m sure it’s coincidence, along with their love for big FORD and CHEVY trucks (the younger generations) and the big Cadillacs and town cars for comfort and safety (older generations).

  74. Thank you all of the fabulous information regarding my ancestry. I recently heard there is a molokan Cook Book. Does anyone know how I can get one?


    • Stephanie,

      According to the 2008 Molokan Directory, Katherine Abakumoff is the Librarian to the UMCA Library in LA where I believe you can buy a Molokan cookbook. You could start with her. Her number is 323-721-8718.


  75. Hi. I too am a molokan. I am a born again believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I grew up and was christened in the Arizona Church. Then moved to L. A. in 1961. All these posts on here are opening up memories of my childhood. Just to let everyone know, Big Church is now located in Whittier, just about 2 block away from Milikyoy. Most of the other churches have left the East Los Angeles area. Only Samarins church is still there, but they have purchased property near 605 fwy and Beverly Blvd. Monterey Park church or as many of us call it “Hill Top” is still there. I too love my heritage but I have a great problem with that extra book on the table. Many if not all of the problems exist in the churches are most likely due to that book. Andy you probably know what happened in Arizona, where we used to play a lot when we were kids. Its not the same anymore. Jesus Christ is not their Lord and King. To all of you who are looking for your relatives, Nancy Poppin Posey has just about as much information as you may need. She is always looking to people who can help her compile more information into her archives. I came accross this site because I wanted to find a good Molokan receipe for paska bread. The kind that has the dried fruit and candied fruits, like my Mother-in-law (Tanya Nazaroff,Wasco) made.
    Boy those were mmmmm good. I have not left the church, but I am away for a while so that I may learn of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all about the salvation that He gives us through His death upon the Cross of Calvary. Praise God. There is soo much to write but I’m getting tired. May our Heavenly Father bless all of you in your searching for your roots, but mainly in your searching for the Truth which is in Jesus Christ. Yours in Christ Jesus Jack Morro Bay. Ca.

  76. Hello,

    May we inquire of you as concerns your affiliation with our Russian Spiritual Christian (molokan) community ?

    Do you believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as was once revealed unto our forefathers in the past, as a result of the tremendous uncomprehendible sufferings they endured for the sake of the same ?

    It was not because of a parent, grandparent or distant relative they may have had that qualified their ties to those who professed the truth of Jesus, and evangelized the truth throughout the land of Russia at that time…..but it was because they were true believers in His Word.

    “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” Romans 9:6

    In the same light, not all who have “blood ties” with the Molokan community of today are truly embracing that which the earlier generations of our forefathers believed in.

    It bears stating that, keeping in mind that the majority of comments put forth on sites like this, are somewhat “unqualified”, as concerns any negative comments about our way of belief. Many times it can get out of hand.

    Please forgive us if we have offended in any way.


    Steve Samarin

    • Steve,
      I don’t know about other people who have left comments here but you have not offended me with your comment posted here. Your comments leave me with a lot of questions.
      I believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as set forth in the Holy Bible inspired by God and written by Holy men of God who were led by the Holy Spirit and the witness of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, all of whom were not Russian. Many people, peoples of many races suffered for the gospel of Jesus Christ not just Molokans in Russia. Which forefathers are you talking about?
      Who are you saying are true believers in Jesus Christ?
      If you are saying that only Russian Molokans that embrace what their ancestors believed in than I have to say that you are wrong.
      Do these ancestors include Maxim? If they do than you are believing a false prophet.
      Do you really believe that only Molokans or only certain Molokans are qualified? I hope not.
      My main issue with the Molokan church in general is not their forefathers and what they went through but the notion that true believers are exclusive to a small part of the Russian community. True believers worship God in Spirit and Truth. These true believers can be found all around the world from all nations and all colors.

      • Ellen, nicely put. It seems that Molokans are taking “true Israel” theology, which I would refer to as Covenantal Theology, and applying it only to their ethnic and belief sect. Jesus claimed “I AM the true vine”. (Israel referred to itself as the vine). Paul makes it clear that it’s not ethnic Jews who are the true offspring of Abraham, but that it’s Jesus. And all who are in Jesus are therefore adopted as true offspring of Abraham. This is the Israel of God. This Israel doesn’t look to a Holy city in the Levant, in a small, dry, dusty and blood soaked corner of this fallen world, but to a heavenly city, a mountain that cannot be touched because it is spiritual yet.

        This is the only consistent way to understand all of Old Covenant (Hebrew) scriptures and New Covenant / New Testament (Christian scriptures) without contradiction. God never contradicts Himself, never changes His mind. If this book written by Maxim purports to be additional direct revelation from God, then nothing in it will contradict anything in the Old or New Covenant scriptures we have, and obviously nothing in it is necessary for salvation (justification and sanctification).

        BUT, and this is a huge but, if portions of this Maxim text do contradict scripture, then the book is not only irrelevant but is in the spirit of Anti-Christ. Maxim was not appointed as an Apostle directly by Jesus Christ, with the undeniable and widespread evidence of signs and wonders to guarantee his authenticity. Paul, in Ephesians 2, says that the foundation of the Church (God’s temple, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the Elect) is the apostles and the prophets. This foundation was laid in Paul’s generation. You don’t build a building on a foundation if the foundation is not completed until 1800 years later. The canon of Scripture is closed, and it closed when the last Apostle (John) died. The canon closes with the last writing of that last Apostle, the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

        To those in the Molokan congregations, I would ask: If you believe you must follow God’s written law as given in the Holy Bible through Moses to national Israel, then why do you pick and choose from these laws? If you will be saved under the law, you must abide by every single jot and tittle of the law. Of course, you, like we all, will fail. You need a saviour. That saviour is Jesus, and only Jesus.

        We are not saved BY our good works, but we are saved UNTO good works that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

        Blessings to my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, whatever you look like, sound like or wherever you live.

      • Second Corinthians 11:3-4 “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”

        Paul constantly had the Judiazers hounding him and trying to undo everything He did. For example they wanted to add circumcision to the gospel but if you add one drop of works then it’s not grace anymore (Eph 2:8-9). Works + grace = nothing but grace + nothing = salvation. Today, there are other gospels out there, just as there were in Paul’s day which is why Paul wrote “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal 1:6-7). Paul stated to the church in Galatia and he tells us that even if “an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse” (Gal 1:8).

  77. The photograph at the top of the posting was obviously taken outdoors, and the people gathered may have been participating in a funeral, perhaps waiting for the body to be brought out to be taken to the cemetery. The elderly man at the left seems to be John Alex Samarin (deceased), grandson of Ivan Gureich Samarin, one of the early leaders of the Molokan community, and the younger man at the right his grandson Daniel George Samarin. The one in the middle may be Daniel’s father George John Samarin (deceased), former presviter of the ‘Samarin Church.’ In 2007 it was on Percy Street, east of Lorena Street. The property was sold and a new church was built in Whittier, California. …. WJS

  78. Your blog was such a wonderful find for me. My grandfather (Alex Novikoff) was part of the original group to migrate from Armenia, so I was told. I remember going to the church as a child for funerals and weddings. Although my mother left the church when she married my father, I don’t remember ever feeling unwelcome. My fondest memory of the church was the singing. My mothers name was Norma Novikoff, her sisters were Grace, Tanya, Manya (Mary), Hazel (Hank), June and I can’t for the life of me remember the rest right now. I believe there were 11 brothers and sister altogether. Any chance you knew any of them?

  79. A couple Of Corrections from a current Molokan:

    Jesus Christ IS our rock and our foundation and the Bible comes before any other book.

    I remain Molokan and do the Lords work everyday. I am obedient to the Lord by trusting him and having strong faith in the Lord and Holy Spirit. I trust He made no mistake when he created Molokanism through the Holy Spirit and He made no mistake when He placed me here. I trust in Him with my whole heart and make no judgement to the other righteous and Christian, God fearing religions amongst us that He also created. Even though they might praise the Lord in a different fashion.
    One last comment, in my 30 years as a Molokan I never once was taught or heard that we claim the postoiannye were marked w the beast.

  80. No outcast here…

    I was a nyeenosh when my wife Maureen Afonin married me in 1963. Her family seemed to accept me, I felt most welcome at the big church when we attended her grandmother’s funeral.



  81. I enjoyed reading the article and the comments. Much of which I have read has previously echoed in my mind and amongst my friends. I wish you and yours continued health and happiness.

  82. Thanks Ellen,
    Your story brings back a lot of childhood memories. I grew up visiting the East L.A. church with my dad when I was a boy. Like you, my mother was from the baptist church also. I loved playing in the parking lot with all the other kids at night, and then eating the borscht, bread with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, the lapshaw with sour cream and listening and watching the jumpers. My dad had already became a born-again christian; but I guess we were allowed in for certain occassions.
    My dad died this week at the age of 69. Next week he will be buried in the east LA cemetary. I remember seeing my dad pole-baring at dedishka’s funeral; and now my daughters will probably see me pole-baring their dedishka. Even though I’m not into tradition; I found this site while trying to find a molokan store to buy one of those pull over shirts you mentioned above and try to grow a short beard for his funeral. I guess the human side of me needs to fulfill a family tradition of my molokan childhood though I became a born-again christian at 19.
    see you in Heaven sister,

  83. Greetings, Ellen, I clicked on your comments about the Molokans on Google and thought I would write and let you know I grew up in the Armenian Molokan traditions (along with the American evangelical teachings). I have have been researching our family history for over 20 years. All my grandparents are from Karakala/Kars and by Klubnikin’s prophecy, immigrated with the Russian Molokans and settled in the “Flats”. My best friends are Molokan born again believers, and were part of the Jack Green/YRCA gang. If you have three Russian Molokans, you have a party! I never laugh so much as when I’m with the Russians. By the way, we were Pryguny. joyce

  84. Hello, my name is Manya Volkoff. my mothers name was Jean/Tanya Beliakoff and my fathers name was Paul Volkoff. They had six daughters.We used to belong to big church when we were children many years ago.Unless one is a molikan,one can never know what a wonderful experience it was for us girls.My mother would dress us up so perfect for church.We must of been a handfull .Do you know how Ican find any of my reliatives?Thank You Manya or Mary Ann Volkoff

  85. Wow, I am so impressed. I was looking at the Conovaloff family on a in-law area. Thank you for sharing all this valuable and cherished knowledge/memories.SHight

  86. my name is andrey Alexander yurain and I from Adelaide from the yerevansy church I and I I’m part of the molokans all your names sound so familliar

  87. my name is Bill Dobrinin and my grandfather was a jumper presbyter. I have a box full of Spirit and Life that he left behind when he died. My father married neenosh and my mother was not accepted very well. However my father’s younger sister also married neenosh and my uncle was warmly accepted. I am wondering if sexism is part of being molokan.

  88. Hi Ellen,
    I am a born again Christian. I never heard there was these Russian Molokans until this past October 2013 when I met one. (We met because we both have same health issue). The Holy Spirit was giving me total red flag alerts. But she had ‘same’ words as me….. yet I knew that something was wrong and finally even told another friend I think this gal is has been born in to a cult like religion.
    I am so glad to read all the postings above. I now know where to direct my prayers. She doesn’t have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. She knows about Him and God but that is religion.
    Thank you for this site!!!
    She told me it was okay to research Molokans, I don’t think she knew what I was looking for with my questions. I wanted to know if she knows she is forgiven and will be Our Lord when she dies. She keep asking about having peace. WIth Jesus you get peace!
    And when we are in Christ we are new creations and filled with Holy Spirit and Jesus is in control of us. She keeps talking about fighting satan and the devil in her house.
    And her church only speaking in Russian, how can you fulfill the great commission of going out and sharing Christi’s work to the world – in America we speak English.
    SO thankful for finding this site….
    God Bless
    Patricia Luker
    La Mirada, ca

    • Hi Patricia,
      Thanks for leaving your comment. You have hit so many issues on the head but the main one is that without Christ’s atoning blood covering all our sin we will never have peace. That is the main thing and the gospel is what should be preached in churches and embraced. Without the gospel and sharing the gospel we are lost and others are lost. All of mankind is lost without Jesus saving grace including Russian Molokans who do not embrace Christ’s way, truth and life!

  89. is it me but was not telling someone that they still are only able to drink milk like a baby when they should be mature now to eat meat of Gospel like not a good thing?!? so why do molokans like being called milk drinkers??

  90. I have been exploring pages of members of my friend who are facebook.. does the molokan church have something like the amish do… at a certain age they are allowed to go into the ‘english’ world and are allowed to do basically anything they like before they decide to finally commit themselves to the ‘amish’ church and all is forgiven and then they choose to live the rest of their lives in their church. is there something similar with the molokans?? because it looks like they are all living it up until what it seems to me is when they get married and then they disappear and stop being on facebook.

  91. The history of the Church is so rich. My maternal grandparents were both born in Russia, migrated to China and came on a boat to America. They resided and grew up in Kerman. My mom and uncle were both raised in the molokan church. My mom married “out”, but as a child going to the church was a wonderful experience. The Russian music is beautiful. Unfortunately my grandmother recently passed she is the last to be buried the molokan way. I am so thankful my children age 21, 17, 14, were able to see the traditions my Bunia was raised in. My Bunia loved The Lord and was always praying. Thank you for the article it brought back so many great memories! Great piece of history!

  92. I found your site and was so excited to read it! My family is Armenian (Mushegian) and we came from Kars/Karakala. We left as a result of the prophet you spoke of and settled in LA. We were part of an Armenian Pentecostal church who practiced the traditions of the Molokan’s. The beautiful chanting (music), the way the church was laid out as far as the way women sit on one side and men on the other with a large table for the elders. The feasts were just as described. I think as with all “sects” they can go astray. Originally the Molokans were known as the first Pentecostal religion as far as my reading takes me. Somewhere along the way they lost their way. My family’s church in Los Angeles (Armenian Pentecostal) was part of the Azusa Street Revival that you can still find information about. Demos Shakarian (“Happiest People On Earth” and founder of FGBMI) was my cousin and also worshiped at this church. It is exciting to know that our heritage goes back so far and that being born again is almost part of our DNA. God Bless you and thank you so much for posting this! Sheila Mushegian Azzara.

  93. Hi Ellen: I was raised in the Molokan faith. My father was raised on the farm in Kerman after moving from Los Angeles. My mother was born in San Francisco but raised in Los Angeles. I found your information to be the most accurate I have read about the Molokans. I am grateful that I was raised in the Molokan faith and that Christians remained in the faith of their heritage. Here is why; I met The Lord at a David Wilkerson youth rally in Anahein in 1969. It was a group of Molokans that organized a group of about 40 that went. I also went to summer camp at Hume Lake Christian camp. Again, going to camp was organized by Molokans and the buses left from the Sunday School property in east Los Angeles. Ken Poore was the director of the camp and my parents even had him speak in our home to a large group of Molokan teenagers. I have left the Molokans only because I believe that God had other plans for me. But I know a lot of Christians in the church. Frankly, the way I look at it is that no church is perfect because the church truly is the people who meet together to fellowship. The New Testament church met together and broke bread daily. I have never been in another church that honors God with the breaking of bread as the Molokans do on Paska. It is a touching service. I am proud of my heritage and proud of my parents who stayed in the Molokan faith and made a difference in many teenagers lives and others by their actions and love. They and other Christians made a huge difference in the spiritual lives of many others and their walks with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Both my parents are buried in the Molokan cemetery in the City of Commerce. They both had traditional Russian Moloka funerals. At both funerals the presence of God was powerful. I believe that they honored God with their lives, by staying in the Molokans faith. I am confident that they are with our Lord eternally and I am confident that others are or will spent eternity with The Lord from the Molokan faith and that The Lord used my parents to help make that an eternal truth for some. I can say that without question because their actions and love impacted me and at the age of 58 I am living my life to honor The Lord. I was honored to see what that looked like in my “Christian” Molokan home.

  94. The jumper sect came after getting to America. Also, molokan pep plus came from the Caucasus because of the coming persecution to the church. It was right before the Bolshevik revolution, and the orthodox church was already persecuting them.

  95. You left out the molokins that settled in baja california mexico .in Guadalupe where they thrived in a land somewhat similar to there’s, they all had huge farms.that they negotiated from the Mexican government and I know because my grand father rip was pashaka Rogoff

  96. I’d love to hear from Mary Ann Volkoff, my cousin. Her mom, Jean Beliakoff, was my mom, Nell Beliakoff’s sister.

  97. The part about the 12 year old prophet who said in 1915 they should leave Russia…that gave me chills! I was also surprised to hear about his later connection to the Azusa Street revival.

    It is very sad that they ostracized your Dad for getting saved. It seems, on the surface, like that would fit with their outlook.

    “Jumpers also use the Spirit and Life as their own “Third Testament”.

    Is this a book? Who wrote it?

    Thank you for sharing this!

  98. Pingback: Tuesdays With Moisi ~1 | The Happy Wonderer ~ ellen b.

  99. Pingback: Tuesdays With Moisi ~ Molokans | The Happy Wonderer ~ ellen b.

  100. Hi Ellen

    I was most interested to read at the start of your blog when you began it that your family left a Russia for Iran in 1932. I am doing some academic research in Australia (and a little in the USA) on the Russian emigre/refugee colony that developed in Iran between the Wars and mostly left in the 1950s. My family was one of these families though Russian Orthodox not Molokan. I would be interested to learn more about your family’s experience in Iran and from any other families that came via Iran. Regards Marcus

    • Hello Marcus, I would be interested to read your findings about the Iran experience. My folks had Russian Orthodox, Russian Baptist, Molokan and Pentecostal friends in Iran and in the USA. I would point you to my “Tuesdays With Moisi” posts to gain the info I have about our parents time in Persia. I don’t have access to any other families memories. Kind regards, ellen b.

  101. Hi my name is Sierra Pavloff my family is from Westminster ca my grandfather is William pavloff he turned away from religion completely so I never knew about that i am Christian now because i follow my heart but I was curious if we had a family Crest. I asked my grandfather this question and he laughed an said “no ” “your ancestors were Russian peasants and peasants didn’t have family crests” he also told me about my ancestors were molokan and they called themselves the milk drinkers, kosher. But that was all and that he had turned away from them because they practiced odd religious beliefs and dances occultic dances. Ellen thank you for this article and insight into my ancestors religion and beliefs and way of life thank you. If anybody knows of the last name pavloff in La Southern California area please let me know thank you.

    • Hello Sierra, At Montebello high school in Southern California I did have friends with the name Pavloff. My friend Kathy Pavloff married a Mendrin. It is true that many Molokans were from the Peasant class in Russia. I’m happy to hear you are a Christian and I hope that means you have repented and received the forgiveness that God gives us because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. Now we live for the resurrected Christ who is alive and seated at the right hand of God. We follow Him in obedience to what the Word of God (The Bible) teaches us. Blessings, Ellen

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