“Churching” 1917: The Church Crisis and the Parish Revolution

In recent decades scholars have done much to correct the previous neglect of the Russian Orthodox Church, but secular historians have virtually ignored this massive volume of dissertations, books, and articles on the Church. That also applies to the role of the Church in 1917. Although that neglect is largely due to the secularist bias in the traditional historiography, it is at least partly attributable to the new scholarship on the Church — which has tended to have a narrow focus: the internal history of the Church.

Moscow Parishes in the End of the 19th — Beginning of the 20th Centuries: Share of Believers Participating in Sacraments of Confession and Communion Among Urban Orthodox Citizens

In this paper the author considers the proportion between Orthodox city people, who did or did not take part in sacraments of confession and communion in Moscow parish churches at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The study is based upon a sample of data about the numbers of parishioners, which was collected from confession and clerical lists stored in the Central State Archive of Moscow. Significant changes over the period between 1897 and 1913 were discovered: the share of those recorded in confession lists decreased from 30% to 15%.

“All Power to the Parish!” An Orthodox Revival in 1920-s

Existing scholarship on Russian Orthodoxy during the Soviet era has tended to focus on high politics, the Church (as an institution), and the clergy (especially the hierarchy). It is important, however, to shift the focus to the parish and laity, to whom the Bolsheviks (through the famous decree of 1918) gave full power over the local church and religious life.