Inside The Community That Follows The “Jesus Of Siberia”

Photo: Kate Brooks/Redux.
Tucked away in Siberia, there's a community led by a former traffic cop who believes that he is Jesus Christ reincarnated.
Some call him the "Jesus of Siberia." But Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop prefers to be called Vissarion.
He leads the Church of the Last Testament, a movement based in the Siberian taiga. Photojournalist Kate Brooks visited Vissarion's community in 2008 to learn more about him and his followers, and to document their way of life.
In her description of the project, Brooks explains that Vissarion's philosophy includes inspiration from "elements of the Russian Orthodox Church and Buddhism to Islam."
The community was "very welcoming," Brooks told Refinery29.
"They're vegetarian — I don't eat meat, so that was automatically something that connected me to them, even if I’m not following what they believe in, per se," she explained.
She stayed in the community for about two weeks while capturing the photo series.
Vissarion's following isn't a small one — roughly 4,000 people live in his community, according to Vice's former editor-in-chief Rocco Castoro, who reported on his visit to the settlement in 2011. About 250 of his closest followers live in an area called the Abode of Dawn.
Vissarion holds a weekly gathering, similar to a sermon, with his followers. "They had contact with him, but very limited contact with him," Brooks explained.
She observed that Vissarion's community was "more about living on the land, eating from the land, and being vegetarian, praying a number of times a day."
In other words, it was about the mindset, and not just Vissarion's teachings. Brooks said she observed "a disassociation with a number of aspects of modern life" in many members of the community.
Ahead, a look at what life is like for Vissarion and his followers.

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