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Heaven on Earth: The Life of the Followers of the Church of the Last Testament

German photographer Julia Sellmann went to Siberia to photograph Ecopolis Tiberkul — the settlement where followers of the Church of the Last Testament live in harmony with nature, waiting for the next Deluge.
Julia Sellmann

German photographer. Studied photography at the University of Dortmund. Published her works in Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Guardian, Nido, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, Vice, Fotografia Magazine, Feature Shoot, LIFO, The Calvert Journal, and other media outlets.

— The Church of the Last Testament, also known as Ecopolis Tiberkul was founded shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union; by a man named Sergey Torop, who calls himself Vissarion. Torop, a former police man, came to the conclusion that he was the latest reincarnation of Jesus Christ. He wrote the so-called Last Testament to follow the biblical Old Testament and New Testament, joining the fundamental beliefs of various religions.

Today, there are approximately 4,000 members, who are willing to build a new utopia. The group lives in Siberia, near Lake Tiberkul, some 300 miles from the western Mongolian border. The members of Ecopolis Tiberkul came from all over the world and sold all of their belongings, adopting simple lives in wooden houses, to be near their Christ-figure.

The members of Ecopolis Tiberkul came from all over the world and sold all of their belongings, adopting simple lives in wooden houses, to be near their Christ-figure.
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The members of the Ecopolis seek to live in harmony with nature. Agriculture is cultivated without any modern technology, following Last Testament beliefs. They lead minimalistic existences without money, and depending on the land to grow their own food.

A core belief of the Vascarians is that a great flood is approaching, and when it comes, only those who belong to the sect will survive. The survivors will emerge from The Promised Land, as they call their territory, to repopulate the Earth and the Universe. Although the followers have made a physical step out of their past, they do not yet find themselves in the bright future they envision.

A core belief of the Vascarians is that a great flood is approaching, and when it comes, only those who belong to the sect will survive.
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