The article analyzes the church situation in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century and the first attempts of the Russian Orthodox Church to influence the country’s public life. The focus is on a number of documents, declarations, brochures issued by a group of “32” St Petersburg priests (the Union of church renovation, the Brotherhood of zealots of church renovation) and practical activities of the members of this group in establishing church-public relations. It is concluded that at the beginning of the 20th century the church for the first time begins to perceive society as an independent force located outside the church fence. The condition for a possible dialogue is the active participation of both parties in social construction: ward restructuring church parish, justification of social activity in the prospect of approaching the kingdom of God. The key concepts in the church-public rhetoric at the beginning of the century are the concepts of “the truth of Christ”, “the voice of the Church”. At the height of the revolution of 1905-1906. the 32-x group is trying to become the mouthpiece of the Church’s free voice. They speak out on the issues of the “Black-Hundred” pogroms and State Duma elections. Orientation to new social forces leads the clergy to pose acute political issues, beyond the solution of which the intelligentsia could not conceive social progress. At the same time, the church for the first time formulates the criteria by which the programs of political parties are evaluated, in terms of approaching the ideal of Christian public life.
Keywords: Russian Orthodox Church, the revolution of 1905–1906, the church renovation, a group of “32” St Petersburg priests, social life.