Alexey Beglov, Ph.D. in History, Senior Researcher, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Associate Professor, National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute)
The article is devoted to the question of origins of the change of attitude of the church leadership to the problem of the rights and duties of parishioners, which took place between the spring of 1917 and the summer of 1918. The author shows that the “parish revolution” of spring – summer 1917, during which the parishioners took control over the church and parish property and aquired the right to appoint members of the clergy, was initially perceived as a destructive process. The church authorities sought to limit its consequences. However, in the situation of the turn of 1917–1918, with the burst of the mass persecution of clergy and believers by the Soviet regime, it was the laity and their associates that were perceived as a force capable of defending the Church. As a result, by the summer of 1918, the “parish revolution” and its consequences had been legalized. The Bolshevik leadership involuntarily contributed to this, since the Decree on the separation of the Church from the State left room for the legal activities of grassroots religious structures. Significant milestone in the adaptation of the church consciousness to a new reality were the decree of the Patriarch and the Synod of February 28, 1918, and a discussion at the Council of 1917–1918 about the parish property, held in April 1918. All these events created the conditions for the exuberant parish revival of the 1920s, part of which was the flourishing of fraternities, parish unions and other similar organizations.
Keywords: Revolution of 1917, Russian Orthodox Church, Orthodox parish, parish revolution, Church Council of 1917–1918, Decree on the separation of church from state and school from church, lay associations.