Renovationist church

Renovationist church (Russian: обновленцы; obnovlentsy). The popular name of a reform movement in the Russian Orthodox church during the 1920s and 1930s. The church emerged in Russia when reform-minded Russian Orthodox clerics proclaimed a dissident Living church in 1922 and established a Renovationist (Synodal) church the following year. The church hoped to take over the jurisdiction of the Patriarchal Russian Orthodox church, which faced a major crisis following the arrest of its spiritual head, Tikhon, in 1922. It rejected traditional episcopal authority and was especially critical of the monastic clergy. It had the backing of the Soviet authorities, who saw it as a means of countering the resistance of the Patriarchal church to the fledgling regime. The Renovationist church started losing political support after 1927, when the Patriarchal church reached an understanding with the government; it was devastated by the antireligious campaign of 1929–41 in the USSR and liquidated in 1943. The Renovationist church actively sought to establish itself in Ukraine during the 1920s, with mixed results.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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