Who We Are
St. Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Church is a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Services are conducted in a mixture of English and Church Slavonic, and the parish cherishes the spiritual and cultural traditions brought by Russian emigres to the Kennebec Valley, while welcoming people of all ethnic backgrounds who want to live by Christianity's most ancient teachings and sacraments.
The Saint Alexander Nevsky church began as the chapel of the Russkii Corpus in 1953, after that military brotherhood of tsarist veterans accepted a large gift of land from Baron von Poushental, the pioneer of Russian settlement in the Kennebec Valley. Beginning in the 1940s, Richmond, Maine became the center of a community of Russians, as well as Ukrainians, Belorussians and other Orthodox Slavs displaced from their homes by the Bolshevik Revolution and World War II. They were attracted by the cheap land, the similarity of the Maine countryside to that of Russia, the concentration of Russian-speakers, and the presence of the church. They came from all classes, including the peasantry, the aristocracy, and the intelligentsia, and for some time, even a Russian princess. Many had endured harrowing experiences in Soviet prison camps and as wartime refugees. In the peaceful countryside of Maine, they sought to rebuild a little of the cultural life of their lost homelands, and carry the torch of Orthodox Christianity and opposition to communism.
As the years passed, and the generations succeeded one another, the Kennebec Russian community has been steadily assimilated into American life. Of the offspring of the first settlers, many have moved away or left the Orthodox Church, and the ethnic organizations have mostly waned or vanished. Yet the St. Alexander Nevsky parish remains, and has continued to grow by attracting newcomers and converts.