The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



adherents of a movement for religious renovation within the Russian Orthodox Church from the 1920’s through the 1940’s. The renovationist movement, often called the church schism, began with the religious reform movement at the turn of the 20th century. The task that the renovationists set themselves was to help the church adapt to the changed circumstances that followed the October Revolution. Their main groups—the Living Church, Church Regeneration, and Union of Parishes of the Ancient Apostolic Church—arose in 1922.

The renovationists criticized the counterrevolutionary activity of the church leadership headed by Patriarch Tikhon and announced that their principle was loyalty to the Soviet state. The ideologists of the renovationists, such as Metropolitan A. I. Vve-denskii, preached “communist Christianity.” They advocated a return to the so-called democratic order of early Christianity and strove to equate communism with Christianity.

The renovationists introduced a number of changes into church organization, worship, and the life of the clergy, including changes in the higher church leadership, democratization of the parish, a married bishop, remarriage for the lower clergy, and church services in Russian. The essence of the political and social reorientation of the renovationists amounted to a break with the old traditions of the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry) bureaucracy. The program of the renovationists was worked out at their local sobors in 1923 and 1925. To some degree, their activity aided the evolution of the Russian Orthodox Church on its path of loyalty to Soviet power. The movement ended soon after the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, when the renovationist clergy, together with their parishes, returned to the Russian Orthodox Church.


Gordienko, N. S. Sovremennoe pravoslavie. Moscow, 1968.
Shishkin, A. A. Sushchnost’ i kriticheskaia otsenka “obnovlencheskogo” raskola Russkoi pravoslavnoi tserkvi. Kazan, 1970.
Kurochkin, P. K. Evoliutsiia sovremennogo russkogo pravoslaviia. Moscow, 1971.
Trifonov, I. Ia. “Raskol v russkoi pravoslavnoi tserkvi.” Voprosy istorii, 1972, no. 5.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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