Dukh-i-zhizniki in America
An update of Molokans in America (Berokoff, 1969). IN-PROGRESS
Enhanced and edited by Andrei Conovaloff, February 2013. Send comments to Administrator @ Molokane. org
Chapter 5 Post War Problems [<Chapter 4] [Contents] [Chapter 6>]
[PAGE 77] The economic collapse following the end of the [First World] war boom affected the whole United States [including]
with the exception ofSouthern California which was at that time enjoying one of its population explosions with the resulting building expansions. For that reason all [Spiritual Christians] Molokans who returned to Los Angeles from their abandoned farms were able to find employment at good wages in [factories, self-employed,] the local lumber yards and in the building industry as carpenters. [The largest influx were those returning from Arizona in the 1920s, who were the majority of 3 of the 4 Arizona congregations Buchnak, Dzherom (Jerome Junction), Selim.]
[While some defaulted, walked away, from their farm loans and store credits, others did not.] Rapidly paying off their accumulated farm debts, they proceeded to buy or build homes in outlying communities Belvedere [now East Los Angeles], Lynwood, Huntington Park, Maywood, etc. thus beginning a movement that, in time, emptied the Flats area of the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans [mostly due to city renewal (slum clearing) and highway constructionin the 1940s].
[Planning for what is now Interstate-5 (Santa Ana Freeway) began in 1933, and included the location of "Big Church" (Boyle Avenue and 4th Street) which had to move. Moving the new "Big Church" (cut in half) 1.6 miles (2 miles walking distance) east impacted thousands of Spiritual Christians who also moved their congregations and homes independently, as if they were organized in clusters.]
This movement was not entirely beneficial to them, for although it alleviated to some extent the serious problem of juvenile delinquency that was plaguing them at the time, it also disrupted the regularity of [meeting][Berokoff mentions the population dispersal with little analysis. The map shows that the Spiritual Christians who moved out of Los Angeles, branched in 2 directions, spreading into new suburbs east and south. (Demographics in-progress.) While a majority of elders who could not drive remained within walking distance of their meeting halls, Russian stores and bakery, clustered near "Big Church," the young affluent marrieds could buy an "American dream" house in the new suburbs with modern appliances and a car.
churchattendance on the part of the young and the old alike, a tendency that was never reversed.
By 1920 these Russian immigrants had 10 to 15 years of assimilation exposure. Many Russian-born, under 25 (born after 1900), were probably well integrated, having lived most of their life in the U.S. The schools, city parks, and non-profit organizations (Y.R.C.A., Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A., International Institute) conducted many inter-ethnic programs which celebrated the diversity of immigrants. Beneficiaries of these programs became many of the most educated and affluent religiously moderate families and tolerated intermarriage.
The map (above) shows that the location for the New LA Cemetery incorporated in 1941 appears midway between the two population growth paths, and that the I-5 Santa Ana Freeway marks the psychological southern boundary for all the congregation meeting halls, even today, though many families moved miles south of it.
Spiritual Christians disbursed in urban Los Angeles retained a heritage affiliation with their congregation by village of one's ancestors. For example, if your parents or grandparent's lived in Melikoy village, Kars oblast, you typically must attended Melikoy sobraniya in Los Angeles. No matter how far away you were, you are expected to only attend that one congregation, unless invited to a special event at another. The same for Akhta (Samarin's, Percy Street, now on Pioneer in Whittier), Romanovka (Podval, Klubnikin's, Shubin's, Clarence Street, which divided into 3 congregations), etc.
Some Russian villages had more than one congregation. For example Selim, Kars Oblast, had two prayer houses: Molokan and Prygun. Most of the Molokane had to move to San Francisco to obtain their faith which was forbidden in Los Angeles, or join a Dukh-i-zhiznik congregation.
Changing congregations is not automatic. If you happened to move to Arizona before 1950, you would not be considered an official member until you formally performed a "good-bye" service (proschatsta) at your old congregation and a petitioned to joined either the Prygun (Selimskii) or Makismist (Darichatskii) congregation.
Though it would seem logical and more economical for meeting halls to be dispersed in suburbs near were many people lived (Huntington Park, Montebello, Downey, Whittier, Orange County), geographic affiliation was not allowed because it would mix members of different faiths who have established clans and positions, sometimes inherited, in their ancestral congregation. Transference of membership could not be done unless one parts (voluntarily or involuntarily) to join another accepting congregation, or forms their own congregation. The new congregation then must be recognized by enough other congregations to retain affiliation with the Dukh-i-zhiznik religious family of faiths.
The critical problems involve who will be presbyter and how he will be chosen. Historically, since only the Holy Spirit can guide the Dukh-i-zhiznik congregations, no planning committee exists which can decide where to place meeting halls. The most zealous would not allow it. These unwritten rules have become more vague, contradictory and lax since the 1970s as descendants of Dukh-i-zhizniki form informal committees which too often cannot administer more than a ritual, unless it becomes absolutely necessary.]
["Brother Isaiah," the spiritual healing "Miracle Man" John Cudney from New Orleans.]
About this time summer 1921 there appeared in Los Angeles a person who caused quite a commotion among the [Spiritual Christians] Molokan people, a commotion that was accompanied by considerable misunderstanding and ill feeling among them. This person called himself "Brother Isaiah" but the newspapers soon dubbed him the "Miracle Man". Where he came from no one seemed to know and he was not anxious to divulge the information. [John Cudney was a peddler well known in New Orleans where he lived on a boat on the Mississippi river. His healings attracted huge crowds and police control. An agent arranged for his tour to cure the sick around the U.S. and Canada, where he also met Doukhobors. His all-white clothes were familiar to the most zealous among the Russian Spiritual Christians, some of whom also dressed entirely white and some using no animal products (leather) in their non-killing spirit.]
Brother Isaiah, the so-called miracle man who caused a considerable stir in the [Spiritual Christian ] Molokan community in 1921.
[Photo] Courtesy of Vasili R. Kulikoff.
Click to enlarge [Cudney sold these cards to pay his way.]
A strikingly tall and handsome elderly man of about 70 years, with a long white beard and long hair to match, he [PAGE 78] conducted a preaching and healing services in a half open stage atop a hill near Lincoln Park [called "Miracle Hill" in his honor]. His services were attended by large crowds [10,000] of curious people and by many sick and invalids hoping to be healed. As is usual in such circumstances, many of these testified to his healing powers, at times throwing away their crutches and walking away unaided.
Hearing of this the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans too flocked to the hill top, coming back to spread the news to friends and neighbors. They were so impressed that soon the [Maksimisti were] Molokan community was deep in a debate as to whether or not he was the reincarnation of Maxim Gavrilovitch. Others contended that he was none other than the fulfillment of a recent prophesy of Afonasy Bezayeff who, on June 5, 1921, or about a month previous to Isaiah's appearance, saw a vision of a star in the heavens with a head resembling a lion and with a tail of a horse, so that people would have difficulty in discerning whether it was that or the other. The name of the star will be "'Star of destruction."
[Bezayeff 's vision is similar to Revelations ]
In the midst of these debates Afonasy himself urged the people not to accept the healer nor to go to him to be healed but that those who would go would soon be crawling like crabs.
Nevertheless, it was decided in the middle of August to invite him to the old Klubnikin [meeting] church building [(podval sobranie)] to hear him out. He appeared there on a Sunday afternoon all dressed in a white flannel suit and a hat to match the suit.
Without removing his hat, he stood at the side of the table and carried on a monologue lasting two hours. The gist of his talk was to the effect that he, personally, is the man-child born of the woman clothed in the Sun as foretold in the book of Revelations; that the reason he did not remove his hat is that it represents the crown on the head of the woman clothed in the Sun, and that the words coming from his lips is the river flowing from the throne of God and that his body and his [PAGE 79] arms that are healing the sick is the tree of life astride the same river as described in Revelations 22. ["The woman clothed in the Sun" is a significant theme in the Dukh i zhizn'. The news reported him several times wearing a crown of oranges, which he also did in Canada while seeking contact with Doukhobors.]
He concluded his monologue by stating that he is now seeking a place to which he must lead his people, a place where the resurrection is to take place, further stating that in his opinion the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans are his people and invited some of them to look over a tract of land he had in mind. This invitation was ignored completely.
At the conclusion of his talk he invited all the sick to come forth to be healed. Several seriously sick elderly people and one boy of twelve who was a complete invalid, both mentally and physically, came forward. All the older people announced that they felt better after his manipulations, but alas, several months later all died from their illnesses. When the crippled boy was brought to him, Isaiah realized immediately that it was a hopeless case and refrained from attempting a healing. The boy too, died shortly after.
Following this performance the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans gradually lost interest in him. Although there were a few instances where hopelessly sick people sent their handkerchiefs to him by mail for a blessing and hoping to be healed, but to no avail.
Thereafter the city health authorities prevented him from assembling large crowds in the open spaces and, after being shunted from one place to another, he disappeared without trace not, however, without leaving some spiritual scars in the minds of some [Spiritual Christians] Molokans as a result of the debates.
["Brother Isaiah" Cudney, so-called "Miracle Man," is disappointed as a result of the difficulties he has met in securing a city park at which to hold his "healing" meetings, and unless citizens offer private ground for his gatherings, the healer may desert Los Angeles and return to New Orleans. " 'Isaiah' May Go Home," Los Angeles Times, 7/12/1921, p. II-6 ]
[Famine in Central Russia]
A further and a more serious dissension arose [among] in the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans Community in the fall of that year as a result of the world wide concern for the famine stricken people of Russia.
Millions of people were literally starving to death in the Ukraine and the entire southern part of Russia because these two great grain producing regions on which the whole nation depended for its cereals, suffered a complete crop failure for lack of snow and rain during the growing season and, since [PAGE 80] this region was the scene of the terrible conflict between the Red Bolshevik armies and the white armies of Denikin and Wrangel who were fighting their cruel civil war, all reserves of food were shamelessly destroyed.
Whether or not there were any reserves of wheat in other parts of the country Siberia or the North none knew except the heads of the government. In any case, the seven years of the nation's tribulation wars, revolutions and the civil war so disorganized its economy that it became an utter chaos and, as a consequence, no foodstuffs were able to reach the affected areas. So the millions were starving as the heads of the nation's government quibbled with other nationsAmerica and others over the terms by which to allow their proffered relief to enter their borders.
At this time a man by the name of Beloussoff and a woman known only as "Tovarish Rakhil" (Comrade Rakhil) appeared [among] in the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans community of Los Angeles to organize a famine relief among them. While so occupied, they succeeded in introducing their so-called parliamentary methods of conducting meetings. The meetings were held frequently to discuss means of collecting the relief offerings. [The form of the meetings] This was the leading cause of the dissension.
The leading elders were opposed to the intruders because their methods were in complete variance to the traditional [Prygun and Maksimist] Molokan methods of free discussion which was usually followed by a unanimous agreement when all signified their assent by shouting "Blaag Soviet" (good counsel). However, a certain element of the younger [educated and assimilated] generation were ready and willing to accept the innovation, governed perhaps by their sympathies with the communist regime in Russia. [The youth were taught Parliamentary Procedure and Robert's Rules of Order in school.]
In addition to these reasons, many, perhaps a majority, opposed the whole idea of sending relief to the Soviets on religious grounds. But in spite of this opposition and despite the fact that the opposition refrained from participating, a consider able sum was collected, truck-loads of beans and other foodstuffs [PAGE 81] were purchased in conjunction with other elements of the non-[Maksimist] Molokan, Russian-born population of the Boyle Heights area and on the first week of December, 1921, it was shipped by steam ship to the Volga region of South Russia.
At the same time, the participating faction sent along a delegate, Ivan M. Seliznoff, ostensibly to distribute the shipment properly but also to scout out the living conditions under the new regime and to report the same to his friends in America who were convinced that the new regime was building a workers paradise there.
A few days before Seliznoff left with the shipment, on December 14, 1921, an official of the Near East Relief Society contacted the elders through Dana W. Bartlett urging them to extend a helping hand to Molokans in Trans-Caucasia where a terrible famine was also raging. This appeal could not be ignored for it meant saving the lives of people of the same faith, flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood, in many instances of brothers and sisters and even of mothers and fathers.
The official was immediately invited to a meeting where he related some awful scenes in which people were dying of starvation in the streets of towns and villages and of typhus that usually accompanies such calamities.
The people were wholly convinced of the truth of his story when he named well known [Spiritual Christian] Molokan villages where he was present, therefore his appeal could not be ignored. When he proposed that the Near East Relief Society would duplicate everything the Molokans would contribute, either in money or in food stuffs, they immediately took steps to coiled a fund to purchase clothing and provisions, assessing every able bodied family $25.00 and urging those who were unable to contribute that much, to give as much as they were able.
All agreed to participate with the exception of the faction that was already sending a large shipment to the Volga region. These refused in the mistaken belief that no [Spiritual Christians] Molokans were [PAGE 82] left in Trans-Caucasia, claiming that all had moved to the Kuban region. [Actually about 1% of all Spiritual Christians (~3,000 of ~300,000) migrated to America, not including ~7,500 (~1/3) Doukhobors who moved to Canada. In 1900 estimates for Spiritual Christians in the FSU ranged from 200,000 to over a million.]
To complicate matters, [Maksimist] Afosay T. Bezayeff uttered a prophesy at this time, in effect forbidding aid to any part of Soviet Russia, not even your own flesh and blood saying that, by helping the Soviets we would be nourishing a black horse that will trample us under its hooves in the end.
There followed three months of acrimonious debate, some supporting the prophesy and others just as fervently siding with the decision to send help, basing their stand on Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan and on the 25th Chapter of Matthew, etc. Every gathering of whatever nature was a continuation of the debate, compounding die already bitter feelings in the community.
[Russian Molokan Relief Society warehouse, 172 South Utah street. The Los Angeles Times provided free advertising. Most donations reported were collected from Americans, not Russians.]
Nevertheless, the collection of funds and the purchase of provisions and second hand clothing continued without a let up during the winter. On March 17, 1922 a large consignment of beans and clothing was shipped directly from Wilmington on the S.S. Kentukian to the Black Sea port of Batum for distribution by the Near East Relief Society to the Molokan people in Trans-Caucasia. Many grateful letters of acknowledgment were later received from those people.
Only a very small minority refrained from participation in this communal act of charity, but even these, with one or two exceptions, privately managed to ship bales of second hand clothing or sums of money to their relatives.
Simultaneously with these charitable activities, the community was deeply concerned with the growing problem of juvenile delinquency. More and more [Spiritual Christian] Molokan homes were grieving over the loss of a daughter or a son deserting the home to marry a [non-Russian] non-Molokan. Younger children too [who now out numbered the married], were frequently running away from home, seeking adventure elsewhere and eventually becoming wards of the Juvenile court.[PAGE 83] Naturally and correctly the elders, parents and every one else blamed the city environment for these evils. [More than 1000 had tried to live in isolated rural colonies, but most returned due to economic failures.] Los Angeles at that period of its history was not the small, sleepy city of 1905 but a large metropolis of over 500,000 population and the world capital of the moving picture industry, an industry whose malignant influence permeated every country in the world and every young person therein, not excluding the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans. Therefore, they Molokan people sought some avenue of escape from this influence.
Unfortunately, however, there was no unanimity to their efforts. The community was divided into three factions.
- There was the faction clamoring for return to Russia, believing that the removal of the Romanoff dynasty meant the end of all misfortunes of that afflicted nation.
- A second group insisted that the proper place to go was not Russia but within the confines of Turkey or Persia, basing their belief on the prophesies of Maxim Gavrilitch who wrote that the chosen people will gather in the valley between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates,
- while the third and the more numerous group insisted that neither of the above lands were yet ready to receive the chosen people nor was the time ripe for it but that we should seek refuge temporarily somewhere in North or South America. [The variety of refuge destinations further divided this last cluster.]
At about this time a certain Mr. Tommenotti, an owner of a concession to a large tract of land in Peru, near the Amazonian River town of Iquitos, appeared among the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans accompanied by a local land agent who was well acquainted with [Spiritual Christian] Molokan aims. They offered to settle a large colony of [Spiritual Christians] Molokans on Tommenotti's land at $3.25 per acre on very easy terms.
The proposition succeeded in stirring up considerable interest in the land hungry people, especially after the prophet Afonasy uttered a prophesy in favor of the movement. Meetings called to hear Tommenotti were crowded, but his unsympathetic demeanor and unbending attitude plus his refusal to [PAGE 84] finance a trip for delegates to the location of the concession reversed the interest against him personally but not against the idea in principle.
At the same time in the midst of the agitation, a prophesy contrary to Afonasy's was uttered by another prophet who proclaimed that "of all those who would migrate to Peru only 10% would be able to return without harm".
Nevertheless, it was agreed to send a delegation of two to Peru independently of Tommenotti. A petition was also drawn up requesting the government of Peru to grant the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans a concession of their own to colonize and further asking for an exception from military service as well as an exception from import duties on all farm implements and other necessities for a certain period of time provided the agreement to colonize could be consummated.
A delegation composed of Petro G. Efsayeff and Vasili T. Potapoff was selected and the petition was signed by a large portion of the heads of families. Only those abstained who were bent on returning to Russia.
The delegation left for Lima, Peru in high spirits, hoping to negotiate a tentative agreement with the government in Lima and from there to proceed on mule back across the Andes, to descend to the Amazon River and thence by boat to Iquitos to the location of Tommenotti's tract of land.
But alas! The journey in the high altitudes of the Andes proved too arduous for men of their age. Without receiving anything definite from the Peruvian government, they nevertheless decided to see Tommenotti's land. They succeeded in crossing the summit of the Andes but part way down the Eastern slope, they became disenchanted with the country and decided to return without finding a tract of their own or of seeing Tommenotti's concession. And so this attempt at colonization, like so many others, ended in a dismal failure.
[PAGE 85] The [Spiritual Christians] Molokan community of that time [were] was blessed with numerous personalities of strong character who held the esteem and respect of the people for their moral, spiritual and intellectual qualities. But men with these qualities are generally strong in will power and stubborn in their convictions. Before his death in 1915, Klubnikin's prestige was strong enough to discourage overt clashes of personalities. Following his death the individual most highly regarded in spiritual matters was Nikolai Ivanich Agaltsoff who was considered a sage and was respected as a prophet and a strong moral force. Unfortunately he passed away in 1920, only five years after Klubnikin.
Philip Mikhaeich Shubin
Click to Enlarge
Following his passing the implied leadership was assumed by Philip M. Shubin who, being about 65 years old, was at the peak of his intellectual power. He stood as a bulwark against repeated attempts at proselytizing by neighboring sects, and repelled them with his powerful logic and profound knowledge of the scriptures. Vasili Tikhonich Sussoyeff was also a greatly respected elder, morally and intellectually equipped for spiritual leadership. Many others were conspicuous for their qualities; Ivan G. Samarin, Mikhail P. Pivovaroff, Ivan F. Golubeff, plus a goodly number of younger men who later became heads of congregations in their own right.
Among all these, however, there was a meek and mild mannered individual who took no part in community discussions, who had no pretensions of leadership but who exerted tremendous influence in the brotherhood because he was a fit vessel which the Lord God periodically conveyed His messages to the [Spiritual Christian] Molokan Brotherhood. Afonasy T. Bezayeff, although burdened with family misfortunes since his arrival in America (two of his young sons died in an epidemic of diphtheria in the first year of his arrival and he was not allowed to bury them with the proper [Maksimist rituals] church services because of the epidemic), he was never embittered but bore his misfortunes cheerfully and [PAGE 86] labored mightily in the tasks imposed upon him by his Maker.
Being influential however, these individuals 'were likewise stubborn, consequently it was inevitable that in trying to solve the many major issues confronting the brotherhood, clashes of personalities would occur, clashes that eventually resulted in ill feeling detrimental to the well being of the brotherhood.
These issues, in addition to the question of Peru and aid to the famine stricken in Russia were:
All these issues boiled down to two different interpretations of the Scriptures: literal or spiritual, fundamental or contemporary. Concerning the meaning of the Russian Revolution, it was argued by some who were citing the writings of Maxim Gavrilich, relying principally on the 19th chapter of Book 8 that the Communists (known as Bolsheviki at that time) were the army of Maxim, fulfilling the will of God because they destroyed the Romanoff dynasty as foretold in that chapter, and scattered its nobility to the four corners of the earth, that they were rapidly eliminating the evil influence of the Orthodox church from the affairs of the Russian State, burning its idols and exposing its holy relics as nothing more than stuffed dummies instead of the marvelously preserved bodies of its saints as claimed by that church
- What did the Russian Revolution mean to us?
- What or who was or is the Antichrist?
- When and how will the dead be resurrected?
- What is the Millennium going to be like and when will it come to pass?
It was contended by this faction that as soon as the Bolsheviki completed the work of cleansing the Russian land of its idols and false dogmas, they will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and will receive the Holy Spirit after which we will return to our fatherland to build the Millennium there.
Other leaders defended the diametrically opposite view. Relying on the 13th chapter of the Book of Revelations, the 10th and 15th chapters of the sixth book of Maxim Gavrilich [PAGE 87] and the 16th chapter of the works of David Yesseitch, they argued that the Bolsheviki were admitted atheists, therefore they could not be doing God's work but rather they were the forerunners of the army of the antichrist who will soon appear in person and, after destroying all monarchies, he will install his false republic and will proceed to force all Christians to accept his anti-Christian doctrines and to persecute without mercy all who will dare to oppose him. That be will gather all foodstuffs of his realm into his warehouse and deny it to those who will refuse to receive his mark on their right hand and on their foreheads.
The faction defending this viewpoint argued powerfully that according to the writings of Maxim Gavrilich, the true Christians will find a refuge from the persecutions of the Antichrist in the lands bordering Mt. Ararat, or somewhere between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates.
It is plain therefore, that this latter group of leaders anticipated the appearance of the antichrist in the flesh, in the person of a super-powerful individual who will manage to consolidate the rule of many nations in his own hands, thus becoming a world-wide dictator controlling the world's food supply by which he will hold the people of the world in his power.
The opponents of this view maintained that the antichrist has been active since the beginning of the fourth century A.D. imprisoning, exiling, torturing on the rack, burning at the stake and otherwise persecuting those "which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ which is the spirit of prophesy."
Do we not see, they argued, that no one religion now has the power to compel others to conform to their doctrine on pain of death? Therefore the powers of the antichrist are being gradually taken away from him and he will soon be confined to a dungeon for a thousand years as the Book of [PAGE 88] Revelations tells us. The millennium will soon be established on earth for already we see signs of its coming. Have not wars been outlawed by world powers? Is not the sale and manufacture of alcoholic beverages prohibited? Do we not see with our own eyes the phenomena of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on peoples throughout the whole world?
These questions, coupled with question of the resurrection of the dead, were debated and, at times acrimoniously argued for many years. They did not subside nor cease until the death of some of its leading protagonists. Almost always the proponents defending the literal or fundamentalist side of any issue were led by Vasili T. Sussoyeff and Ivan F. Golubiff while the opposite or spiritual concept was usually taken by Philip M. Shubin and Mikhail P. Pivovaroff and others.
These debates were resumed whenever or wherever a group of [Maksimisty or Pryguny] Molokans were assembled for any occasion, even involving the youngest age brackets. Naturally the proponents of each side attracted their own adherents, either by force of their logic or by their differing personalities. But although they made thew meetings very interesting and even exciting, they did not settle anything, for it is quite clear now that on most issues both sides were mistaken to a marked degree.
The incarnate antichrist has not yet made his appearance nor have the communists shown any signs of becoming Christian or of accepting the Holy Spirit. The manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages has been resumed with a vengeance, bringing with it the use of drugs and chemicals far more harmful to individuals and nations than alcohol ever was.
Wars have not been abolished. On the contrary, they are now much more frequent and a hundred times, nay, a thousand times more destructive to life and property. On the other hand no serious attempts were made to find a refuge [PAGE 89] in the Near East principally because there does not seem to be any there. On the contrary, many [Spiritual Christian] Molokan families from Persia have since that time found a refuge here, and a country that had never at that time figured in the debates or even considered as a havenAustraliais now a home for approximately 25 families who are convinced that it is the second refuge for the [Spiritual Christian] Molokan people from the coming [nuclear] holocaust.
Meanwhile, the temporal affairs of the brotherhood proceeded as usual. After the Peru fiasco it was more and more concerned with the problem of juvenile delinquency, a problem that was growing steadily worse. The solution to the problem was still believed to be in a mass removal from the city. Soon another attempt was made in that direction when, in the summer of 1923 a possibility of a colony in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, presented itself.
As usual, a three man delegation made a preliminary survey of the locality, bringing back a favorable report. Following this a second delegation that included Philip M. Shubin, Ivan G. Samarin and a younger man, Markei A. Bogdanoff, was dispatched. [They were guests of the railway sales agent and got free transportation, meals and lodging.]
This delegation was accompanied by 15 men who volunteered to drive there in their own cars and at their own expense, showing a serious interest of the community in the proposition. This large group was almost unanimous in their favorable impressions, the delegation even concluded a tentative agreement with the sellers but, alas, the community in Los Angeles would not accept the terms of the agreement and this matter too, was dropped because there was no one to push it.
It was the last large scale attempt made at colonization by the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans of Los Angeles. Only a minor attempt was made after that. About a dozen families tried their luck at colonization near [the north edge of Maxwell, 20 miles south of ] the town of Raton, New Mexico but, because [PAGE 90] of the great depression that began in 1930, it had no chance of survival and was abandoned after about  two years. [Half of their land is now in the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge.]
Thereafter those who seriously intended to leave the city, did so as individuals, concentrating their efforts in the near-by San Joaquin Valley, California.
But the perplexing problem of juvenile delinquency would not disappear, in fact it was progressively getting worse with each passing year. A study of cases appearing before the Los Angeles Juvenile Courts made by Dr. P.V. Young showed that in 1915 only one [Prygun] Molokan boy was involved in delinquency but in 1918 there were 15, in 1922 there were 26, in 1924 there was 84 and in 1926 there was an astounding total of 130 [Prygun] Molokan boys before the courts, of whom 104 were tried for offenses against property, that is, petty larceny, grand larceny, safe blowing and robbery.
Crime and Immigrant Youth, by Dr. Tony Waters, Department of Sociology and Social Work, California State University, Chico, (Sage, 1998) page 38.
A similar study of a two year period between November 31, 1927 and October 31, 1929 showed that 49 [Prygun] Molokan girls between the ages of 13 and 18 appeared before the same courts, 35 of whom were involved in sex delinquency and the rest in lesser offenses. Apparently no one was aware of the real seriousness of the problem that these statistics showed. That it was bad every one could see but how bad no one really knew until Dr. Young's book appeared in print. Even then these revelations were so shocking the majority refused to believe them, blaming the author for exaggerating the situation although, with these exceptions, the book presented the [Prygun] Molokans in a very favorable light. [The worst reports were omitted or censored, and 24 pages quoted from the Dukh i zhizn'. See: The Pilgrims of Russian-town Seventy Years Later, by Stephen E. Scott, Old Order Notes, No. 26, Fall-Winter 2002, pages 7-34.]
Nevertheless, the only remedies urged by the elders, in addition to an exodus from the city, was an intensification of [religious] church programs for the young people, a commendable program as far as it went but, seen at this distance the problem was far more complicated than the brotherhood leaders were accustomed to deal with. Back in the villages of Russia such [PAGE 91] simple programs were adequate because the problems were simple village offenses. Any infractions of [Prygun] Molokan behavior were immediately dealt with by the village elders, usually by having the guilty one punished by having the father administer a whipping to the guilty one in public, a very effective method in a village where the population was 100% [Prygun] Molokan and where the most serious offenses were surreptitious drinking and card playing by unmarried youngsters.
But self-administered justice was impossible in a large city and in cases involving violations of state and city laws. Moreover, there was now a language barrier between the parents and the children as well as between the children and the church.
To overcome the barrier, Russian language schools were tried periodically and just as frequently abandoned through lack of attendance and financial support. Only those children attended regularly who needed it the least. The American born [Prygun] Molokan children simply had no interest in the language of their parents and spoke English among themselves exclusively, to the utter despair and frustration of the parents who could not understand them. Neither threats nor cajolery could induce the children to speak nor to read Russian. [In contrast the other Sprititual Christian youth (Molokane, Subbotniki, etc.) rapidly assimilated, in sports and school.]
It would be a mistake to infer that because the parents could not speak English, they were a group of uninformed or ignorant peasants. The majority subscribed to Russian language newspapers. During the first years (1909-1915) one such newspaper The Tikhi Okean [Тихий океан] (The Pacific Ocean) was published in Los Angeles by a political ιmigrι by the name of Anton Sherbak [Anton P. Cherbak (1867/8-1930/40); also: Cherback, Scherbak, Shcherbak, Shterbakoff, Щербаков (Scherbakov)]. He was of the party of Social Revolutionaries and enjoyed a good reputation among the people [for providing free general education classes in his "Russian University" sponsored by the Bethlehem Institutions]. But there were not enough [literate] Russian speaking people in Los Angeles to support a newspaper [and many Pryguny and Maksimisty did not want him] so he moved his paper to San Francisco in 1915 where he continued to publish until the Revolution in Russia when he returned to the Soviet Union [where he died. In December 1910. Cherbak also tried to organize a ~50 mi2 land purchase near Santa Barbara, California, for a large colony for all Spiritual Christians in North America, which failed because 12 immigrants leaders could not agree. Information collected so far indicates that railroad tycoon Henry .E. Huntington was involved in the planning to get these Russians out of Los Angeles. ]
[PAGE 92] But the [Russian immigrants] Molokans continued to subscribe to the Russkaie Slovo [Novoye Russkoye Slovo, Новое Русское Слово] from New York and which was published in Canada. These newspapers kept them well informed concerning world events.
In addition to newspapers, [some] many [Spiritual Christian] Molokan men and even some women were well read in the works of Lev Tolstoy, Dostoyevski, Gorky and other well known Russian writers. Translations of Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" as well as Stowe's "Uncle Toms Cabin" were also well known to [some of] them.
But the book with a religious theme that enjoyed the widest popularity and even reverence among the elders previous to the publication of The Book of Spirit and Life in 1915, was a book on a mystical subject written by a German writer, Stilling Jung [Johann Heinrich (1740-1817), Hans Heinrich Stilling, Jung-Stilling, Johann Heinrich Jung]. Its title in the Russian translation was "Ugroz Sviet Vostoka" [«Угроз световостоков» (1806-1815) 8 volumes] but in German it was "The Menace of the Eastern World", which was published first in 1813 [in Russian]. It dealt with a religious subject which was interpreted by some [Spiritual Christian] Molokan elders as a prophetic book concerning God's chosen people, their wandering from place to place in Europe and finding eventual haven in the Near East.
[Original German: Der graue Mann, eine Volksschrift ("The Grey Man, a popular magazine" or "The Common Man, the people's writer"), 30 issues published 1795-1816 by Stilling until his death, continued by others to issue 42. Translated from Russian in 2002, online as: Menace of the Eastern-Light, the Man in the Grey Suit. In 2003, two American scholars summarized: "In the wake of the French Revolution, Jung-Stilling in his popular series of tracts Der Graue Mann and his novel Das Heimweh, issued a call to Christians to repent of their unbelief and love of luxury and indicated that the church of the last days would be saved by turning toward "the East" (that is, toward Russia and Eastern Orthodoxy)."(Zimdars-Swartz, Sandra and Paul F. Zimdars-Swartz, University of Kansas. "Apocalypticism in Modern Western Europe" in The Continuum history of apocalypticism by Bernard McGinn, John J. Collins, Stephen J. Stein, page 608. ). In 1890, almost all of the Pryguny, especially the Maksimisty followers of Masksim. G. Rudomiotkin, wanted to move east from the Caucasus to Turmenistan, "Tika", but most could not survive. (Breyfogle, Nikolas. Heretics and Colonizers, pages 302-303.)]
The book [magazine] was widely quoted in debates and discourses to support the belief that the [Maksimisty and Pryguny] Molokans must eventually find a haven in Persia or Turkey. Only one copy of the book was available in the community. It was evidently the property of Philip Mihailovich [Shubin] but it was borrowed back and forth by so many people that it is now black with age and use.
However there was a small portion of [Maksimisty] Molokans who refrained from reading any and all literature, strictly obeying the injunction of Maxim Gavrilovitch who instructed his followers that all books except the Holy Scriptures were "poisonous", and should not be read. But the children, because of the language barrier, were not aware of this and in their own minds believed that their parents [PAGE 93] were backward, therefore, they drifted farther and farther away from the influence of the home. After school hours many boys would walk uptown to sell newspapers or to shine shoes on the main streets of the city, at the same time learning the ease with which small trinkets could be filched from the department store display counters, bringing them home to brag about to their friends and also acquiring other evil habits from non-[Russian] Molokan boys and men on the down town streets, frequently returning home too late in the evening to absorb [their] Molokan home atmosphere.
Other boys, who were not so occupied after school hours, would find attractions and adventure in the near-by river bed, in the freight yards and other mysterious and interesting places that had to be explored; while yet others were ordered by their parents to take their home made wagons and bring back fire wood from surrounding warehouses or freight yards for the family cooking and heating stove. These juvenile occupations, although helpful to the economy of the household, were, by their very nature, detrimental to their habits because the local environment where such activities took place, was not morally healthy.
It must be admitted that the children were not always to blame. Many parents neglected their offspring, perhaps on the mistaken theory that life of a youngster in a city was not much different than life in a village, therefore, if the parents grew up into good [Spiritual Christians] Molokans there was no reason that their offspring could not do just as well. In addition to the city streets, alleys, warehouses, and railroad yards, there was the far more insidious influence of the local and downtown moving picture theater to which the teenagers flocked on Saturday night and Sunday afternoons. The stories that the children absorbed from these moving pictures undermined the influence of the home more effectively than the city streets because they glamorized the girl who fled her [PAGE 94] home and eloped for "love" and excited the adventurous instincts of the boys by portraying a bandit or an underworld character as a hero.
So the strict morality of a [Spiritual Christian] Molokan home was gradually supplanted by the loose environment of a city street; the parental influence by the moving picture drama, the father image (for the boy) was being supplanted by a cowboy hero, and the mother image for the girl by the so called heroine of a society drama. At the same time the simple and sometimes drab furniture of a [Spiritual Christian] Molokan home appeared at a great advantage (especially to the impressionable eyes of a young girl) when compared to the luxurious home of her heroine as depicted in the picture drama.
But the unsophisticated parents did not know this. Very few of the older [Spiritual Christians] Molokans ever saw the inside of a theater or a picture show. They were entirely absorbed in earning a living for the family. In the evening the mother was too busy with her washing, ironing or sewing and even baking while the father rested from his hard day at the lumber yard, the junk yard or other physically exhausting labors and was too tired to devote much time to his family which generally was a large one; eight, ten and more children in a family was not uncommon at the time. Sundays, of course, were devoted to the church, again leaving the children to their own devices.
And so this vicious spiral continued its upward course. The neighborhood was rapidly acquiring an unsavory reputation. The police authorities appealed to the [Spiritual Christian] Molokan elders for cooperation in combating the problem and the elders countered by a petition on Sept. 27, 1924 to the District Attorney to clean up the neighborhood of bootleggers, but to no avail. It was not until the [Spiritual Christians] Molokans began a process of decentralization by moving to outlying communities that any improvement could be noted.* In 1927 the total number of boys appearing before the juvenile courts fell to 109, in 1928 the [PAGE 95] figure rose again to 122 but in 1929 the number fell to one half of the 1926 level; only 65 boys were apprehended and appeared for a hearing in the courts.
[* Other contributing factors are the founding of the UMCA in 1926, molodoi sobranaya (a zealous youth assembly), and increased social services from government (particularly in school and city sports) and non-profits (International Institute).]
This process of decentralization was not a conscious act on the part of the brotherhood to improve the situation but, conscious or not, it did a considerable amount of good by eliminating the local moving picture show, the well known corners and the adjacent, convenient and tempting area known as "the Oakes lot" as an assembly point for adventurous forays for the boys. The City Parks and Recreation Department also helped by utilizing part of the Oakes lot as a neighborhood playground.
The most decisive act to combat the problem, however, was taken by the rising new generation of community leadership who came to America as young boys and girls of school age and who were now fathers and mothers of growing children themselves, for it was now over 20 years since the first group arrived in America.
These young men and women as a rule came from the better oriented families, hence they were better able to withstand the lures of city streets. After a short period in local schools they secured work permits and a few years later married at the proper [Spiritual Christian] Molokan age of 19-20 years to girls of similar backgrounds. By 1925-1926 they were mature young men with recognizable talents, many of whom were occupying responsible positions in business enterprises other than lumber yards or similar exhausting jobs of their fathers, consequently they were acquainted with both sides of life of teenagers in a large city and were not unacquainted with ways of combating their problems by more practical means than their fathers.
[UMCA the only United Prygun youth association]
In  1927 a group of these young men being gathered at a friend's house for dinner, began the customary discussion of the problems foremost in their minds, namely; how to retain [PAGE 96] the loyalty of the [Spiritual Christian] Molokan children to their [congregation] church. In contrast to other such discussions, this one resulted in a decision to take active and practical measures towards the desired goal. About a dozen were present and all signified their willingness to participate by subscribing to a fund for establishing a young people's center and agreeing to issue a call for others to join in the undertaking.
The idea caught on. Many others signed up and the group formally organized itself by securing a charter from the State of California as a non-profit organization, choosing the name "United Molokan Christian Association." [Об'единенное [Объединенное] Молоканское Христианское Общество (духовные прыгуны), (Obʺyedinennoye Molokanskoye Khristianskoye Obshchestvo (dukhovnyye pryguny)]
[In 1976 I interviewed 2 men from the 12 founding families, James Haprov and Hurey Slivkoff, which was published in that year's "UMCA Picnic Program."
Slivkoff said that he lost 4 of his young children in his house fire in Arizona before 1920. He said his heart went out to every Russian kid in the Flats whom he adopted as his own. He was shocked to learn that unattended kids, who had no place in Prygun or Maksimist meetings (sobranie), were attending a Russian Baptist Sunday school, in a mission church on Gless street, behind the Klubnikin-Shubin-podval sobraniia on Clarence street, across from what is now Pecan playground. Some adults joined this congregation.
Truckloads of Russian kids were transported to and from Sunday school, where they got puppet lessons and rewarded with candy for good behavior and attendance. Slivkoff summarized: "If Noah can build an ark to save PIGS, then we can build an ark to for our own kids!"
In the early 1920s, a dozen families joined in meetings to discuss problems with their youth and unanimously voted to form an organization to rent or buy property. Slivkoff said they all put their hands in a pile and said, "All for one, and one for all!"
The first location, according to Slivkoff, was a vacant store on Whittier Blvd (then Stevenson Blvd.), and moved to two adjacent building in the Flats at 143-145 South Utah Street, a half block south of First street. They held Sunday school and a Wednesday evening program, all in Russian.
In the 1940s, several members of the Young Russian Christian Association (YRCA), a clubhouse sponsored by 3 women missionaries, began attending the free Bible Institute of Los Angles (BIOLA). One of these first BIOLA students happened to be the oldest son of the president of the UMCA, John Samarin. Bill Samarin and his buddy Alex Wm. Patapoff agreed to teach at the UMCA only in English, because they were not fluent in Russian. For the next 20 years, Patapoff and YRCA-ers coordinated the UMCA programs, growing it to the 3rd largest Sunday school in California, 10th in the nation. When the Utah street buildings were taken in the 1940s to clear slums for low income project housing, the UMCA temporarily moved to the building in front of "Big Church," then to 1059-1065 S. Gage Ave, where it remained until 1980.
Slivkoff said that the UMCA logo was copied from the book: Книга солнце, дух и жизнь (Kniga solntse, dukh i zhizn', Book of the Sun, Spirit and Life) page 678. The image also occurs in the earlier book: Утренняя звезда (Utrennyaya zvezda : Morning Star). Slivkoff said he drew one of the versions, which to him represented calling people from the four corners of the world (North, South, East, West).
U.M.C.A. membership is limited Pryguny, now Dukh-i-zhizniki: "Article IV: Membership, A. Eligibility. Only persons eighteen (18) years of age or older of the "Russian Molokan Spiritual Christian Jumpers Faith" are eligible for membership in this Association." By-Laws, United Molokan Christian Association, 1974, page 5.
Though the original logo signaled people "into Zion," the most zealous cast out a prophesy that "the Devil danced on the roof" of the UMCA. The most Maksimist would not set foot on the unclean ground until the early 1960s when Alex Patapoff was removed from coordinator, and Ed Liege and Pete Berokoff became Sunday school teachers for teen boys. For the next 20 years the organization was over taken by zealous Dukh-i-zhizniki who controlled the newsletter and transformed it into a private elementary school at the new location in Hacienda Heights.]
A program was developed for conducting a bilingual Sunday school services for smaller children in which qualified singers taught the children [Prygun] Molokan songs in Russian and other qualified persons conducted classes to teach the [Prygun] Molokan religion in both the Russian and English. A concurrent program was developed for a mid-week assembly for teenagers which was also to be bilingual in the same manner as the Sunday school. Neither of these programs were designed as a church-meeting in the ordinary meaning of the word but rather as a place where the children would become better acquainted with [Prygun] Molokan background, traditions and beliefs and also as a meeting place for teenagers of both sexes with marriage as the ultimate goal.
A vacant store premises in the "Flats" area was rented to begin with and the idea proved itself as sound and feasible immediately by a full attendance of youngsters of all ages. [Hurey Slivkoff reported this store was on Whittier Blvd (then called Stevenson street) where he installed donated school desks, which he screwed to the wood floor. Even the store basement was used for classes.]
This fact encouraged the organized group to purchase an old house in the center of the community, on South Utah Street. [MAP] The house was remodeled to accommodate up to 300 children at a time and soon an adjoining house was bought to accommodate smaller children.
By 1932 the U.M.C.A. was growing beyond expectations. At 9 A.M. every Sunday, car after car would drive up to the [PAGE 97] front of the building to discharge a group of well dressed, happy young kids who would fill up the assembly hall to capacity while their proud and beaming parents would sit along the side-line benches to hear the children sing the traditional [Prygun] Molokan songs and recite their lessons in either Russian or English.
The majority of elders wholeheartedly approved the new approach and gave it their moral support by frequently at tending the meetings, speaking words of encouragement at both the Sunday morning and the Wednesday evening services. The juvenile courts and the police department too were heartily in favor of it, recognizing in it a powerful influence to combat delinquency and showing approval with a visit from the presiding judge [? Wilbur*] of the juvenile court to the Wednesday evening service, being accompanied by a large retinue of probation officers, their wives and other interested persons.
[* In 1903, Curtis D. Wilbur was appointed to the California Superior Court where he presided over many hearings involving the Spiritual Christians. Fortunately he was also on the board of directors of the Bethlehem Institutions (closed in 1913) and tended to be lenient with these Russian immigrants due to the work of Dr. Rev. Dana Bartlett and his volunteers. He was so lenient that the Russian kids never expected to be jailed for their crimes, rather given probation. In 1918 he was California Superior Court, Chief Justice; in 1924, Secretary of Navy; in 1929, US Court of Appeals, San Francisco, and Presiding Judge until retired in 1944. His brother Ray L. Wilbur was U.S. Interior Secretary and President of Stanford University.]
On the other hand, [beginning in 1946] there was a strong and active opposition from the [zealous] minority of the brotherhood who objected on the grounds that [YRCA-ers* were the primary teachers and]
[* NOTE: This is the closest and only reference in the entire book about YRCA-ers, heretics to Berokoff and his peers, hated so much that he chose not to identify them by name. History of the Young Russian Christian Association, Rev. Jack Green and their impact on the UMCA, is in-progress.]
- The [UMCA] meetings were not conducted in the traditional [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan* way, that is, the children were not trained to kneel while praying nor were they encouraged by word or example that jumping in the Spirit is [a] likewise traditional part of the service; the services were merely opened and closed by reciting a prayer in a standing position. It was contended that such conduct was a radical departure from the faith of the Spiritual Christian Jumpers* [Dukh-i-zhizniki] and should be stopped.
[* It is clear that Berokoff is describing a faith in which "jumping in the Spirit is a likewise traditional part of the service" which is definitely not the Molokan faith. Though this organization was named: "United Molokan Christian Association," not the "United Prygun Christian Association," it's by-laws limited membership to the "Jumpers" faith; whose descendants after WWII, a majority of the membership, were an assimilated non-jumping mixture of Spiritual Christian faiths.]
- Since we were children of God and in matters spiritual subject to His laws only, a charter from a temporal state to conduct [ritual] church services was not necessary, in fact it would be a violation of the tenets of their faith. Furthermore, [Dukh-i-zhizniki] they strongly objected to some clauses in the articles of incorporation, in particular the inclusion of the word "club" as an activity of the organization, etc., etc. [The YRCA-er always referred to their building as a "clubhouse" and organization as a collection of "clubs" while the most critical Dukh-i-zhizniki called them the religious cult church of evil Jack Green.]
Notwithstanding these objections, the U.M.C.A. continued to make progress. Whether or not its influence slowed down [PAGE 98] the practice of intermarriages with non-[Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans is still a moot question because nobody has ever compiled any statistics on the point [, because Dukh-i-zhizniki are also afraid of any such data collection, though ironically they are eager to know the results when data is collected]. Moreover, despite the fact that the Wednesday evening services attracted capacity crowds, there were still hundreds of teenagers of marriageable age who were not reached by its efforts because of lukewarm attitude on the part of many parents [, many who wanted their kids to learn English and assimilate in the city].
However, the incidence of juvenile delinquency fell off markedly from the disgraceful figures of 1926, and continued to decline. Although no systematic study of the problem was made since Mrs. Young wrote her "Pilgrims of Russia Town" [, published in 1932,] a recent interview with Juvenile authorities elicited the information that the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan youth are no longer a concern of that department [in Boyle Heights*], that despite the large increase in [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan population, only two or three boys were in the custody as of March 1968. [Pryguny were transformed to Dukh-i-zhizniki after 1928 when their ritual books were placed altar tables of all congregations in Southern California.]
[* Berokoff does not cite his source, and does not indicate that he consulted all municipalities were his Dukh-i-zhinik youth live. He was unaware of any in jail or on probation outside of his neighborhood, in which only a few youth of Russian ancestry lived in March 1968, when only about 5 Russians attended Roosevelt High School. The majority were at Montebello, Garfield and Downey High Schools. About this time, I witnessed several appearances of police at youth parties. In East Los Angeles on Ford street the entire riot-squad of more than a dozen police cars appeared at a house party which was disturbing the peace. In Kerman, I spoke with a local policeman, who came to an isolated outdoor party; and he told me that he rarely arrested the Russian kids because it was more efficient to report them to "the elders" who would discipline their own, often with severe beatings. In Arizona, some of the Treguboff and Tolmachoff roughnecks were so famous for fighting at the Rainbow Ballroom in Phoenix that it was mentioned in the Arizona Memories TV documentary on Public Broadcasting.]
[In 1972, my buddy John Walter Bogdanoff also tried to determine how many were "marrying out." He asked me to help answer this question by using the largest list of youth names available, the 1960s UMCA Sunday School student roster and mailing list. We copied it from the UMCA office files, then added missing names, until we had about 900. We tallied the names into 4 groups: "single," "married in," "married out" and "don't come around." About one-third were still "single." About one-third were "married in," and the remaining third "married out or left." These ratios were confirmed by several very active UMCA members, including my aunt Anna J. Veronin, former Woman's Axillary president. Now, 40 years later, I suspect that a higher fraction is married out, closer to half.
At the time, the UMCA clubs had been nearly closed for renovation, and an addition a second story of classrooms. Most Sunday school classes were held in the gym divided with movable walls. just been but no more youth events were being held by the UMCA which was being renovated with new classrooms.With a list of about 300 singles, John suggested it could be used to invite youth to an event, It was strange that the older smaller UMCA was packed in the 1960s with clubs and several annual family events, but vacant when expanded in 1970.
I typed all 300+ names onto envelopes anticipating that some event will appear, and knowing my name was on the invite list. Within weeks, John told me that Mike M. Podsakoff was planning to start a singles club. I called Mike, got the details and mailed 300+ invites. Everyone was shocked to see 40 attending the first meeting, followed by volleyball in the gym. A contest was held to name the club, which became "Our Gang" (after the "Little Rascals" serials). Guys who had been using the UMCA for their own Thursday nite poker and beer clubhouse protested. The Club mailing list grew to over 1000 by the end of its first year, compared to the UMCA newsletter mailing list of 700+.
Dr. Young was collecting data for a sequel book to report how the U.M.C.A. was revitalizing their Russian ethnic society by attracting assimilated youth with new programs in English. She was going to reverse her prediction that these Pryguny were doomed to extinction in the city, but did not realize they were already being transformed to Dukh-i-zhizniki by Maksimisty with her help of incorrectly reporting in her first book that their faiths were based on the Dukh i zhizn' and they were all called "Molokans." Her research papers for the second book were lost in a fire at the International Institute, and book never published. She observed that the U.M.C.A. got a huge organizational boost beginning in the early 1940s when members of the new Young Russian Christian Association (Y.R.C.A.), educated at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (B.I.O.L.A.), were invited to teach U.M.C.A. Sunday School classes. During the next 20 years, to 1962 under the direction of Alex Patapoff and other YRCA-ers, the U.M.C.A. grew to become the 3rd largest in attendance in California and 10th in the nation! Then the Maksimisty-Chuloshniki systematically bullied the YRCA-ers out, installed their own teachers, changed the picnic location several times among private parks, and by 1980 seized complete control of the U.M.C.A. converting it to a private Dukh-i-zhiznik school. Attendance plummeted and social programs and clubs vanished per Dukh-i-zhiznik doctrine.]
In addition to the results described here, the work of the U.M.C.A. stimulated the efforts of those [Dukh-i-zhiznik] parents whose sincere convictions restrained them from participation in the organization. These chose their own means to indoctrinate their children in the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan religions by their own methods, such as conducting a midweek and a Sunday afternoon church service in their traditional manner and also initiating a system of singing classes or Spevkas [spevki] in individual homes. [The most zealous never conducted at the UMCA because their lead singers would not enter what they believed to be the unclean UMCA property where, according to a prophesy: "the Devil danced on the roof."]
All in all, and despite the ill feeling between the two opposite [faith] approaches, their efforts succeeded in improving the morale of the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan youth and increased their awareness of their background and knowledge of the doctrines of the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan faiths with one important exception, namely; neither side was actively concerned about indoctrinating their young boys and men in one of its principle tenets objection to military service. Hence, when the Selective Service law was passed by Congress in 1940, very few young men were prepared to cope with it.
[PAGE 99] It was believed by some that the terrible conflict of 1914- 1918 was the final Armageddon, therefore, future wars were not likely and if by some chance wars should occur, America would not be involved in it. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that America would be involved, our young men will not be called because we were recognized as religious objectors in the last war and exempted from the draft, therefore, we should not be unduly concerned about it now.
This was an incredible theory in view of the constant sword rattling of Mussolini in the decade between 1923-1933 and also the obvious intent of Hitler to start a war of conquest after he assumed power in 1933.
Others contended that the war of Armageddon is surely coming but that we must prepare ourselves to escape it by a flight to a second refuge, this time within the confines of the [non-pork-eating] Mohammedan countries of Turkey and/or Persia where we will be protected from harm by those nations. For that reason people with these views endeavored by every means to indoctrinate their children with their convictions and neglected to prepare them for a possible war in which the United States would be a participant. That war came sooner than anyone anticipated.
But before that war came, the world, including the United States, had to endure a terrible economic crisis that began in the fall of 1929 [, during the the beginning of the new Dukh-i-zhiznik faith,] and continued until the beginning of the greater crisis of the second World War.
* * * * *
It is not the intent of this writer to delve into the causes and effects of that economic crisis except as it affected the [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan people. It will be sufficient to note here that after the great stock market crash of October, 1929, the factories throughout the whole country began laying off their employees by the thousands, consequently, people who failed to [PAGE 100] lay aside a nest egg for a rainy day during the preceding boom years were soon reduced to the level of indigents depending on their more fortunate relatives or on public charity for their daily bread.
A common occupation for many of those unfortunate unemployed during the first year of the depression was to sell apples on the main streets of the cities to the more fortunate ones who were still employed, thus to eke out a living for themselves and families.
As the months dragged on the conditions grew worse and there was no relief in sight. It was not until the spring of 1933 when, following the elections of the previous fall, the new administration began to develop programs of relief through public works programs and through other measures, when many of the 15 million unemployed were gradually put to useful work, thus reversing the cycle of economic depression.
It was during these three years and the following seven years of the depression that the ingrained [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan habit of hard work and thriftiness proved itself. In the first place the majority of families owned their own homes free and clear of encumbrances, eliminating one cause of hardship and worry. Secondly, in spite of the half idle factories, stores and other establishments, sanitation of the city had to be maintained and this work, shunned by other nationalities through false pride, was not below the dignity of [Dukh-i-zhiznik] Molokan men, so that many of their families were comfortably fed and clothed by the lowly rubbish route.
Other families, lacking this means of support, were maintained by the women of the family who, leaving the children with their men folk, were able to find work either as janitors in the downtown office buildings or as seasonal workers at the local walnut packing plants that were operating day and night shifts during the six months of the walnut harvesting seasons of fall and winter of each year.
[PAGE 101] Thus, the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans managed to survive comfortably by hard work and thrift during a most difficult decade. With very few exceptions they were able to stay off the relief rolls or the public works projects, a feat that was matched perhaps only by the oriental population of the city.
* * * * *
[P. M. Shubin dies]
The year 1932 was also memorable to the [Dukh-i-zhizniki] Molokans because it was in the beginning of that year, namely, on January 9, 1932 that the beloved and respected leader, Philip M. Shubin passed away at the age of 77. He passed away after an illness lasting about three months.
This distinguished man whose role as a leader was foretold by a third party to Philip's mother before his birth, devoted most of his adult years to the service of God and to the [Spiritual Christians] Molokan brotherhood. He was its spokesman before the rulers in Russia and was twice arrested there for agitating the emigration to America.
Notwithstanding the arrests he persisted in his determination and became the dominant personality in urging the [Spiritual Christians] Molokan people to heed Klubinkin's prophesy. Upon arrival in America he, together with Klubnikin, exerted his influence on those who were becoming disillusioned with America to have patience during the first difficult years, in fact, urged other young men whose parents were still in Russia, to write to them to hurry their departure before it was too late.
During his 27 years in America he was the outstanding speaker and orator of the brotherhood with a wide acquaintance among non-[Russians] Molokans, not infrequently taking a choir of singers to Pentecostal* church meetings where he preached and explained the [Prygun] Molokan reasons for their migration. It was his wisdom, his profound knowledge of the scriptures plus his wide knowledge of Russian literature that enabled him to repel the periodic attempts by leaders of neighboring [PAGE 102] denominations Baptists, Pentecostals, etc. to proselytize the [Spiritual Christians] Molokan people and whenever [their] Molokan children became enmeshed with the law the parents immediately turned to Philip Mikhailovich for counsel which was always forthcoming. [* Read more about how the Spiritual Christians and Pentecostals met at Azusa Street "Were Pryguny the first to "Speak in Tongues" in Los Angeles?"]
His wise counsel prevailed in most major decisions of the time, especially during the first World War when he boldly counseled the young [Spiritual Christians] Molokans to comply with the registration requirements of the draft law but to demand exemptions as conscientious objectors through the regular legal channels. (It was said of him that as a young man in Russia he undertook a trip to Tiflis to shop for various household necessities but that while there he met a man who had a trunk full of Russian literature to sell so instead of the household necessities Philip Mikhailovich spent the largest portion of his allotted funds for the books and to the utter dismay of his wife he came back home with only a few of the necessities but as a proud owner of a trunk full of books.)
For these reasons, and despite the serious and sometimes stormy opposition to his liberal religious views, he was mourned by all factions of the brotherhood and his funeral was the biggest in point of attendance than any precious funeral of that time, in fact it called forth a good sized article [with photo on the front page] in the Los Angeles Times ("Patriarch Laid To Rest," Los Angeles Times, January 12, 1933, page A1).
The old building of the Melikoiskaia Church the largest one available was much too small for the occasion. To accommodate the overflow a tarpaulin was stretched over the entire back yard area where additional tables were set up and a public address system was installed to enable those seated outside to hear the proceedings of the service. (Footnote: This innovation caused such an unfavorable reaction and criticism that it distracted from the solemnity of the occasion and was never tried again.) [Public address systems were later often used at UMCA mass assemblies and picnics, and in the Molokan prayer hall in San Francisco for large meetings (weddings, funerals, holidays).]
[In August 1914, F. M. Shubin testified in Los Angeles Municipal Court that he was "former head of the Russian Church in this city." He explained to Judge Wilbur that the Russian Spiritual Christians "..revolted against him as their leader and as having authority to speak for them." Shubin explained that he was demoted because he gave an incorrectly translated document to the court regarding bride selling and marriage registration allegations, but has submitted a correct one signed by 78 elders. He assured they will obey the law to register marriages, and will no longer discuss the matter ("Russian Explains : Tells Judge Civil Marriage Laws Were Not Repudiated Blames Translation of Statement," Los Angeles Times, August 4, 1914, page II-5). The unofficial reasons are that Shubin was probably rejected by the most zealous Maksimisty for negotiating with the government, taking oaths in court, and associating with American Pentecostals, many of whom were Negroes. Many Maksimisty are indoctrinated racists, against "araby" (Russian : Arab, dark man. In America : Negroes). There's a pattern of behavior among the most zealous and least educated to have one person represent them for "unclean" non-spiritual legal matters (secular temporalities), then reject that person for being unclean when their essential secular task is finished. After Shubin did their dirty work, he was dirty.
Due to the arranged marriage and marriage registration hearings which began in Los Angeles in 1911 and continued in the courts and news through 1914, along with city vice (drinking, prostitution, crime), and American dress codes, many zealous Spiritual Christians fled or avoided the city in haste to occupy farm colonies. None consulted with people like the Dr. Rev. Bartlett when negotiating land contracts, perhaps thinking the Holy Spirit was guiding them. When most farms failed, many families returned to Los Angeles. Some rushed back to the city thinking they were all returning to Russia. Hence most lived where their parents never intended when they left Russia in metropolitan slums, surrounded by pollution, crime and other faiths, required to send kids to school and register many times with the government. Their agrarian communal faiths quickly adapted to the easy life of a huge city with cheap public transportation and many new conveniences and amusements factory jobs, market food, beaches, fishing, parks, zoos, theaters, etc. Within a generation, the majority abandoned their agrarian utopia for a "worldly" kingdom in the city.]
[<Chapter 4] [Contents] [Chapter 6>]
Molokan, Prygun and Dukh-i-zhiznik History
Molokane, Pryguny and Dukh-i-zhizniki Around the World