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Author Topic: In Kazakhstan, Russian Old Believers maintain faith  (Read 848 times) Average Rating: 0
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biro
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« on: November 05, 2010, 09:41:52 PM »

The Peter and Paul Church stands in the village of Korobikha, in the mountains of eastern Kazakhstan. There, a community of the Russian Old Believer Church maintains its way of worship, which emerged from a schism with the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th Century. Present times have brought their own challenges. Fr. Gleb, priest of the parish, has seen some of the townspeople move away in search of new opportunity.

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“When the faithful were persecuted, as in Soviet times, people aspired more to spirituality – young people, everyone,” he said. “Now, when you have the chance to manifest your spirituality, people are turning away; different values have emerged among young people – material values … non-spiritual values.”
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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2011, 09:08:13 PM »

Whoa, first time hearing bout that! praise god, and hope that the schism ends.
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kijabeboy03
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2011, 12:41:50 PM »

It's partially ended - there are Old Ritualist parishes under the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia and under the ROCOR in Pennsylvania.
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2011, 02:24:22 PM »

It's partially ended - there are Old Ritualist parishes under the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia and under the ROCOR in Pennsylvania.

Actually, it's rather far from ended. The relatively small number of Edinovertsie parishes within the MP, the ROCOR parish in Erie Pennsylvania, and the small congregation in South America (Brazil) under ROCOR are but a fraction of the Popovotsy Old Ritualists and the Bezpopovotsy are at least, if not more, numerous than their priested brethren.

Many years,

Neil
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2011, 02:31:48 PM »

Hence the use of the word "partially" :-).

I wasn't aware that the Bezpopovtsy were still so numerous - from what I'd read they did not endure Communism as well as the Belokrinitsy and other Popovtsy or recover from it as quickly. (Though perhaps that's not the case in the Diaspora?)
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2011, 04:04:51 PM »

There is a community of the priestless branch of them in Poland.
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« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2011, 01:10:46 AM »

Hence the use of the word "partially" :-).

I wasn't aware that the Bezpopovtsy were still so numerous - from what I'd read they did not endure Communism as well as the Belokrinitsy and other Popovtsy or recover from it as quickly. (Though perhaps that's not the case in the Diaspora?)

There are significant communities of them in the US Northwest (particularly Oregon) and Canadian West (Alberta and British Columbia, most notably), as well as some in Alaska, Brazil (a few smaller communities elsewhere in South America, as well), and in Australia (a Popovotsy friend in Oz, describes the community in Sydney as fairly large).

In Eastern Europe, as well as those in Siberia and the community that my brother, Michal, references in Poland, there are also communities of various sizes in, at least, Ukraine, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Belarus, and Georgia. There are Bespopovtsy in England, but they are scattered and unorganized according to an Old Rite hieromonk whom I know there.

As regards how well they endured Communism, they definitely suffered and suffered horribly, but the isolation in which many of them (particularly those associated with the Stranniki and other 'Isolationist' sects) lived in Siberia, and in the taiga generally, afforded them some measure of survival. In some respects also, the lack of presbyters and the fact that some among them worship in house churches, rather than more typical stone and mortar temples, undoubtedly afforded a measure of invisibility that was not as available to the Popovotsy.  

You also have to keep in mind that the degree of formal organization among Bezpopovtsy varies significantly - from those whose worship is structured and communal to those among whom it is a very individualized praxis that may involve only an immediate family or a few families within a remote village. These considerations make any effort at a 'census' very difficult once you leave the confines of the two or three largest bodies.

As an example, Skritniki (Hiders) were first documented in the mid-19th century. They shunned all contact with secular society, either living in huts deep within the forests or wandering wilderness areas with no fixed abode. When forced by authorities or circumstance into more conventional environments, they isolated themselves to the maximum extent possible. Some subsisted nocturnally and others even perceived isolation as essential to salvation.

The sect was thought to be extinct by the early 20th century but, in 1978, geologists working in the taiga came into contact with the Lykov family, who had then been living in near total isolation for a half-century. Agafia, the youngest (and sole surviving) member, would now be in her 70s, I believe, and was still alive a year or so ago. She remains there by choice, despite various efforts to resettle her with relatives who were located or with other Old Believers; she has, however, made some compromises with total isolation.

More recently, around 2000, census takers accidentally discovered a remnant community of three elderly women in a remote, otherwise-deserted village of the Komi Republic in the Urals. Despite being the sole inhabitants, they ventured out only at night and did not socialize, even among themselves.

As memory serves, I posted a series of 4 or 5 posts to a thread here a couple years ago, in response to a query by an individual who identified himself as seeking to become a modern-day Stranniki (Wanderer). One of the posts was devoted to listing and discussing the variety of beliefs and praxis among the Bezpopovtsy, although I don't think that I got into the particulars of which and how many might be found in various locales in modern times.

Edit: On searching, I find that, while I discussed Bezpopvotsy in the thread I referenced in the paragraph immediately above, I didn't append that series of posts here at OC - probably because the OP in that thread was not much for dialoguing and it got a tad contentious. (I did post it at Byzcath and at CAF at times in the past). If there is any interest in it, I can resurrect the text and post it here or can provide links to it (at least at ByzCath - I don't know if it survives at CAF or not).

Many years,

Neil
« Last Edit: August 10, 2011, 01:30:43 AM by Irish Melkite » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2011, 10:36:38 AM »

Sure! From the sounds of it things are as I read and heard in Russia and Ukraine. The bezpopovtsy survive, but in small communities. The Belokrinitsy parishes I visited were well attended and seemed to be absorbing a decent number of disaffected people from the 'New Believers' :-).

I'd hoped to visit the accords here in Oregon before I moved, but alas, that likely won't happen :-/.
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"This is the Apostolic Faith, the Orthodox Faith, and the Faith of the Fathers. Having this wonderful treasure, let us preserve it, let us keep it, and let us also use it in such a way that this treasure becomes the victory of Christ in us and in His Church." ~ St. Severus of Antioch ~
Tags: Old Believers  Russian Orthodox  tradition  Kazakhstan 
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