Today for Tuesdays With Moisi I wanted to give you some information on the Molokans, Moisi’s religion before he was born again.
I have some previous posts about the Molokan Cemetery in City of Commerce, California and the Molokans (Milk Drinkers). By sharing these posts I in no way am promoting the Molokan Religion. Some of the traditions are noteworthy but not to be worshipped.
I’m adding some photos I have of Molokan events and the Molokan churches in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The photo above is a wedding photo. This is our uncle Vasili’s (Bill’s) marriage to Nura. Our parents are the chaperones who stood with them for the wedding ceremony. This photo would have been at the bride’s home where the groom comes to pick up his bride from her parents to ride to church with the chaperones for the marriage ceremony and meal. At the bride’s home prayers are given as a blessing to the couple.
This photo above and below are not my photos. Above shows the dedication day of the new United Molokan church in Los Angeles (Big Church).
The photo above is a photo of a Molokan church on Portrero Hill in San Francisco. Some of our families good friends settled in San Francisco and attended this church. Very minimal interiors are part of the Molokan churches. A main table that have had different objects on it. A Bible, Salt and a loaf of bread. Some churches add a book of prophecy. We have heard that one of the small radical Molokan churches in Los Angeles have taken the Bible off their table. Benches are what are used for seating. The male leaders sit at the head and far side of the table. Others sit on benches a distance from the table. Men on one side and women on another side. For meals which are a large part of the church they use benches again and saw horses with flat 4X6 ish planks of wood for the table top that rest on the saw horses. You’ll see an example in the videos below. Long rows of those tables with the benches fill the whole inside of the building and food is passed down the table for the group meals.
In the background of the photo above is a small group of Molokans who came to our mom’s funeral in 2013. Our Pop, Moisi, is standing with our nephew Ryan.
The YouTube videos below are a sampling of what the singing is like in Molokan churches.
To my knowledge there are two distinct groups of Molokans. There are the postoyanniye, “constant”, original Molokans who wanted to keep their distinction from the “Jumpers”. In 1833 there was a breaking away of a portion of Molokans who experienced what is described as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This outpouring resulted in men and women in the church service at different times jumping. Spiritual Jumpers, pryguny, are the group of Molokans our Pop and his family were part of. The Russians in San Francisco are part of the Constant sect and they don’t jump.
Again to my knowledge there are two “prophets” associated with the Jumpers. One is Maxim Rudometkin. His writings are followed by the Spiritual Molokans of Los Angeles (Big Church). Some of these Molokan Jumpers called themselves “New Israelites” with their leader Maxim. They follow old testament dietary laws and also celebrate the feast days, holy days, festivals but they gather on Sundays as their Sabbath day. The group, also known as Maximists, considered Efim Gerasimovic Klubnikin, a divinely inspired 12 year old boy prophet. He prophesied a “coming time that would be unbearable and that the time to leave Russia was now.” During the early 20th century under his leadership, about 2,000 pryguny (Jumpers) emigrated to the U.S., first settling on the east side of Los Angeles. Many seeking rural isolation moved to Baja Mexico, then Arizona, Central California, and some other parts of the West Coast. We visited a few Molokan families on their farms in Kerman, Calfiornia. Maxim’s writings are published in a book that is kept on the central table for worship along with a Bible and the song book.
This was the first church we attended before our pop along with some of his relatives and friends started a Molokan church of their own on Kern Avenue in Los Angeles. The Kern Avenue group celebrated Easter and Christmas but First United Christian Molokan Church (Big Church) did not celebrate these holidays. Our grandfather, Timofey, and our uncle John stayed at Big church and were leaders there. Our brother Fred got married at Big church and is still part of this church but it has relocated to La Habra, California.
When we attended church here there wasn’t a paved parking lot.
Another change from when we attended “Big Church” is the addition of the 60 Fwy in Southern California. It cuts pretty close to the church property now. This property has been sold and this church group now meets in La Habra.
My favorite part of being a Molokan were the meals we shared at those rows of tables along with hot tea. Sugar cubes were set on the tables in small bowls. We kids would always build a bridge of sugar cubes across the top of the tea glass then pour the tea and hot water over them and watch them collapse into the glass. In the videos you might see that glasses and bowls are still used to serve tea. The meals consisted of either Borsch (cabbage vegetable soup with beef stock) or Lopsha (noodle soup). Bowls of whole cucumbers and tomatoes would be passed down the tables and one person would take the knife in the bowl to peel the cucumbers and slice them and then slice the tomatoes and put them back in the bowl. Fresh bread was served with the salad and soup. Then the meat and potatoes that were used to make the broth would be served. I can almost smell the meal and that fresh bread and fresh cut salad. Delicious.
In google searches of Molokans I came across a great article out of Russia about their history. I will share more on another Tuesday.
10 thoughts on “Tuesdays With Moisi ~ Molokans”
I wonder what else the 12 year old prophesied!
“We have heard that one of the small radical Molokan churches in Los Angeles have taken the Bible off their table.”
Was it because it was too holy to be on the table?
Please post a link to the article you mentioned at the end…if it can be translated. 🙂
…an interesting read, thanks Ellen.
Hi Ellen, I’ve been to the Big Church for a meal in 1964 after I married Maureen Afonin…
Hello Duncan, I think the last time I was there was for my grandfather’s funeral in the early 80’s? Not sure…
This is SO interesting!!! Ellen, I hope that you have considered publishing these posts into a book someday – your writing and research and memories are amazing. Your dear old Pop’s stories fascinate me.
Ellen, thank you for sharing about the Molokans with us. I have found today’s post a most interesting read.
It has been interesting to read about the Molokans – a community that you know well. Thank you for sharing, Ellen.
My grandparents were Molokans and attended Big Church in LA (although they did not live there) Later my grandfather was instrumental in starting a small church in Porterville where we all lived. My first experience in a Molokan church was for a wedding when I was a young girl and my second was when my Grandma died – her services were at the Big Church – what an experience. I do love their singing. My grandparents were Jack & Anna (Susoev) Egorov and I had an Aunt and Uncle who were Bagdonoffs – John and Helen…….. maybe our relatives knew each other or maybe we are even related?????? I enjoy your posts about your father!
Thank you Cheryl, it’s nice to hear from you and a little of your history.
I am a Nazaroff, and not of the Church. My grandparents were of Mindrin and Dobrinon. While I’ve never been to the Big Church ( or LA ) I’ve been to 4 funerals with the Molokon Church in Gervais, OR. My grandfather’s service today was absolutely beautiful. Strangely even with not knowing any of the words, my heart knew the time. I have begun slowly trying to trace and learn my heritage. Thank you for this article.