The Miami Valley Episcopal Russian Network (MVERN) is part of the Diocese of Southern Ohio. They are a unique ecumenical project between Episcopal and Orthodox Churches. Thirteen different churches in southern Ohio, including 11 Episcopal churches and 2 Orthodox churches, have formed a parish partnership with St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, which is located in the village of Sablino, Russia. Sablino is just thirty miles south of St. Petersburg. MVERN’s rector, Fr. Nikolai Aksenov, leads a remarkable ministry that includes the entire region, including a youth center, an orphanage, and a school for developmentally disabled children. They also have ministries in a hospital and a large women’s prison. As for their connecting to Russia, Dr. Igor Tolochin serves as a vital link between MVERN and Russia. In addition to being a vital link, he is equally effective working with both Russian and American teenagers as chaperone, interpreter, friend, and mentor on the MVERN youth exchanges.
MVERN has contributed to expanding St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church twice and has donated more than $300,000 in humanitarian supplies and hard currency in support of Fr. Nikolai’s extensive outreach ministry. The village of Sablino is approximately thirty miles south of St. Petersburg. The rising prosperity of Russia has reached neither Sablino nor hundreds of other villages throughout Russia where life has scarcely changed since the end of communism. MVERN’s goal is to help those people of Sablino in their poverty and help give them a better life. They have created the Sablino Youth Center and they also have Cultural Exchanges. That people to join if they want to help.
The Sablino Youth Center was established in 2004 by Fr. Nikolai. With significant financial help from MVERN, its decrepit Sunday school building has been transformed into a spacious and welcoming center for the community. The Sablino Youth Center now is essentially the centerpiece of Father Nikolai’s remarkable ministry and has become a model for similar undertakings in other small villages throughout Russia. At the present time, approximately 60 to 75 Russian youth, ages 7-17, gather after school and on Saturdays. They also provide a summer camp for the kids. During these times the kids have classes in music, art, drama, English, religious education, and sports, and for education about alcohol and drugs. The youth center is open to children from throughout the region, providing both a stable oasis and a diversion from the temptations of drugs, alcohol, and gang membership. MVERN also have a Cultural Exchange for those wishing to help out the town of Sablino. Since 1999 Episcopal and Orthodox youth from throughout southern Ohio have traveled to Russia with MVERN on five life-changing trips and pilgrimages with a mission. After exploring Russian history and culture in St. Petersburg, the youth and their chaperones spent time in Sablino, Russia. They also provide an opportunity for Russian teenagers to visit Southern Ohio and see what life is like in the United States. They also provide adult trips to Sablino, Russia so adults can help with the cause and also experience life in Russia.
MVERN is a great organization in Ohio who is helping make a difference in different parts of the world. They are a non-profit, non-government organization whose main goal is help those in need in Sablino, Russia. They have made many connections in the Russian area and are welcomed with open arms by the community of Sablino. I find it very inspiring and interesting that a group from my backyard of Dayton, Ohio could be making such a difference in people’s lives across the world. We are extremely blessed here in the United States and it is good that people are still willing to help those in need, like the Miami Valley Episcopal Russian Network is helping those people who are in need in Sablino, Russia.

Here is the contact information for MVERN:
  • Miami Valley Episcopal Russian Network (MVERN)
    c/o St. George's Episcopal Church
    5520 Far Hills Avenue
    Dayton, OH 45429
    mvern@sbcglobal.net