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The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

ISSN: 2658-7599 (print)
2713-3141 (online)

The Identification of Elders in Informal Associations of the Faithful in the Russian Orthodox Church between 1917 and 1943

Dmitry Gasak, First Vice-Rector, St. Philaret’s Institute
Olesya Kolomyttseva, Independent scholar
pp. 124–150
DOI: 10.25803/26587599_2024_2_50_124
After coming to power in Russia, the Bolshevik government unleashed a large scale terror against the Russian Orthodox Church, which aimed to de­stroy church life at all its levels. The most severe period of persecution occurred between 1917 and 1943; during this period the institutional church was practically destroyed and the Church was deprived of its unified administration, as a result of which church life took on a local character. Ecclesial life, however, was not fully destroyed, but began to manifest itself more in informal associations of the faithful, who strove to keep in contact with the ecclesiastical institution, while simultaneously maintaining the independence of their inner life. Under these conditions, church associations had their own elders and leaders, most of whom were clergymen, whether priests or bishops. This article is dedicated to the study of the phenomenon of eldership within informal associations of the Russian Orthodox Church during the most difficult period of Soviet persecution, i. e., the experience of identifying elders in church communities and brotherhoods. The authors primary attention is directed to the issue of establishing general patterns of extra-institutional identification of elders in informal church associations. Such patterns may have church-wide significance for clarifying the specific contents of pastoral ministry in the post-Constantinian period of church history.
Keywords: pastoral care, eldership, community, brotherhood, election, reception
For citation: Gasak D. S., Kolomyttseva O. N. (2024). “The Identification of Elders in Informal Associations of the Faithful in the Russian Orthodox Church between 1917 and 1943”. The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute, v. 16, iss. 2 (50), pp. 124–150.

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