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Communitarian and Sobornal Principles in Societal and Church Organizations in Russia

27.05 28.05
Kostroma, Kostroma Theological Seminary  

The goal of the upcoming conference is to collect and research examples of various church, societal and folk organizations which existed 19th and 20th century Russia and which manifested practical examples of communitarian and sobornal principles in everyday life. The study of this sort of organization is particularly pertinent, as we can make use of historical experience to enhance the life of contemporary church and societal organizations. 

The inspiration for calling the conference comes on the backdrop of an historical date: May 2024 marks 160 years since the Committee of Ministers of the Russian Empire passed the law “On the Rules for Establishing Orthodox Ecclesial Brotherhoods”. This law provided legal grounds for the lively efforts of Russian Orthodox people to live and act in communities and brotherhoods. 

In preparing for the upcoming conference, we propose consideration of the following key concepts, which may be refined during the course of ensuing discussions. The word “communitarian” we take as referring to non-hierarchical, self-organizing associations of people who seek to further the public good without diminishing or compromising the personal principle vis-a-vis individuals. We maintain that sobornal principles are present wherever people make the effort to relate to each other in love, and where self-regulating forms of church life appear.

Communitarian principles can be found in various different types of assosiations, from civic work cores to rural communities, from religious gatherings of various types to friendly gatherings which give birth to philosophical thinking; from communes of intelligentsia to circles of artists, writers and musicians. 

Sobornost, as an imminent quality of bodies within the church, appears in the arrangement of councils. The primary example for our period would be the Local Church Council of 1917–1918, though sobornost can also be seen in the arrangement of Christian life in a great number of different forms, such as brotherhoods and sisterhoods, communities of the faithful, monasteries, spiritual movements, penitential families and groups around one or another pastor, secret communities, etc. 

We propose the following working groups for the upcoming conference: 

  • Orthodox Communities and Unions of the Faithful;
  • Traditional Community Life;
  • Community Life by Special Design;
  • Lives in Community: Comparative Views;
  • Regional Community Life;
  • Communitarian Principles as Seen in Russian Sects;
  • Ideologists of Communitarianism.

Conference Organizers: 
Kostroma Theological Seminary 
St. Philaret’s Institute 

We would like to invite historians, sociologists, philologists, philosophers, theologians, and anyone who is interested in our topic from more than the external perspective, i.e., those who are interested in the internal organizational principles which guide and structure the life of faith-based and other communitarian associations. 

It is preferable to take part in person, rather than by virtual link. 

Transportation and living costs need to be met by the participants themselves. 

The best presentations will be published in two journals: The Hypatian Journal and The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute.

A cultural programme is planned for the 26th of May.

Chairman of the Conference Organising Committee
Yulia Valentinovna Balakshina,
Professor, SFI, Doctor of Philology