Residents of Novaya Usman are not the only ones who know the Church of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God with its high bell tower. The church was built by high-grade builders in 1870. It has a good brick layout. It is a solid building with a stone fence. Belonging to the classical style of eclecticism, it could be seen from a distance and its elegance was impressive.

The church was consecrated in the name of our lady of Kazan, by the Manager of the Voronezh diocese Archbishop Seraphim (Aretinskiy). The farm Podkletinskiy, which was a few miles away from Novaya (or Bolshaya) Usman, was attributed to the church. The total number of people in the ward was just under three thousand people, both men and women. A wooden church house, which housed a rural school, was also built at that time.

In the 1871-1880s the staff of the church included the priest Feodor Stefanovsky. Father Feodor's wife, Olympiada Petrovna, worked for many years in the church after her husband's death. In subsequent years, the staff of the Kazan Church changed many times. So, in 1886 the documents mention a priest Joseph Ivanovich Efremov, a deacon Mikhail Karmanov, who was later inducted into a church office, and a psalmist Nikolai Petrovich Peresvetov. Father Joseph, who served for many years, left a good memory. He was respected by everyone for his zeal for Service, strict order in the church, consideration, truthfulness, honesty, covetousness, and love of poverty.

According to the schedule of the deaneries of the diocese, approved on January 5, 1896, in Voronezh district, the village of Bolshaya Usman was included in the second deanery, in which there were 16 churches and 20 staffs, and the Dean was a priest Mikhail Skryabin. In the same year at the direction of the eparchial administration from May 27 on the petition of a dean John Alexeevsky the position of the dean was given to Nikolai Efimovich Piatnitskiy, a deacon of the Church of the Ascension in the village of Novaya Chigla, Bobrovsky district. This priest is an elder brother of our countryman of Mitrofan Efimovich Pyatnitsky who was a wonderful folklorist, a collector of Russian folk songs and the creator of the world famous folk choir. They say that it is the priest of Novaya Usman Nikolai who was one of Mitrofan Efimovich's inspirers and from whom came a disire to collect vocal heritage of people – at first only spiritual songs. By the way, after the revolution Euphrosynia Kalashnikova, who was a participant of the Pyatnitsky choir, sang in the choir of the Kazan Church until it was closed.

In the early 1930s, in the period of collectivization and «dekulakization», under the slogan «Down with the wealthier peasant and his accomplice – the priest», started liquidating the Church in the village where Orthodoxy had a great influence. All the property of the Kazan Church was taken in this period. The icons were broken, destroyed and thrown away, the bell was removed, the crosses were stripped off the domes... Then the so-called «godless five-year plan» followed. A lot of churchmen were arrested. A priest Petr Antonovich Alferov, who served in the Kazan Church, was arrested and sentenced to five years in the camps. By 1936, the church in Novaya Usman was closed «by the decision of the Plenum of the village Council and its asset». After the church was closed, before the war it was used as a granary, then a garage, in the hard postwar years there was a mill inside.

The revival of the abused sanctuary began in 1990. First, as usual, people cleaned up the church and brought some constructional materials. The first bell was set next spring, and in five years the altar was restored. It has been fifteen years since the church Sunday school started working, the spiritual life in Novaya Usman revived.

It took ten years the Church of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God of Novaya Usman to transform and return to believers. And today, as in the past centuries, this church has become a unifying spiritual centre of the village, the centre of culture and morality.

After Mikhail Nebolsin


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