A health food store managed by Seventh-day Adventist church members has the mission to be an outreach tool near Russia’s second city. The Orange Tree Health Food Store opened its doors in Lomonosov, in the federal district of Saint Petersburg, on February 7, 2021.
Members reported that the store, located in downtown Lomonosov, has already begun to draw local residents not only to the tasty food but also to the master classes offered on how to prepare healthy recipes.
“I have heard about using a health food store as an outreach initiative, and I really thought we could launch one in our city,” said Anna Sheplyakova, one of the Adventist church members behind the initiative. “To do outreach, we figured that the first step was to open a store like this one.”
Initially, the city of Lomonosov was called Oranienbaum, which means “orange tree” in German. A fruit tree is a reminder of the miracle of God’s creation in the Garden of Eden, church members managing the store said. “In choosing that name for the store, we wanted to reflect on the lightness, the health, and the freshness always present in God’s Paradise.”
The city of Lomonosov is located 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Saint Petersburg, and it has usually been considered part of the metropolitan region, “a city within a city.” It is one reason the store has become a strategic selling point and a place where a person can choose to learn the principles of physical and spiritual health, managers said.
“Every person needs food, no matter what faith he or she adheres to,” they explained. “In the store, volunteers meet with different people and are ready to answer questions when they arise.” Visitors are also offered books about healthy lifestyles and spiritual life.
During the cooking classes, organizers teach people how to cook healthy food and offer lectures on a healthy lifestyle. Especially popular are cooking classes for children, where children attend with their parents.
Members of the Adventist community in Lomonosov have been praying for the initiative. The February 7 opening ceremony included a special dedication prayer, asking God to use this store to reach others. Now that the project has become a reality, church members have also stepped up to support the store staff in various initiatives.
The store offers a wide range of health foods for sale, including whole-grain products, flour, several non-dairy milk options, tofu cheese, seeds, sugar-free treats, oils, and dietary products.
Store managers emphasized the outreach element of the new initiative.
“We rejoice in the opportunity to serve the citizens of Lomonosov and believe that through this project, many will learn about our loving Creator,” they said.