Russian True Orthodox Church
The Russian True Orthodox Church is a denomination that separated from the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 during the early years of Communist
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 rule in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. While the True Orthodox Church in Russia was never a single organization, many of its followers were labeled Josephites
Josephites (20th century)
"Josephites" so-called after the name of the Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd – leader of resistance of the True Orthodox Church in 1927-1937...

, after Metropolitan Joseph (Ivan Petrovykh)
Metropolitan Joseph (Ivan Petrovykh)
Metropolitan Joseph - secular name is Petrovykh Ivan Semionovitch born in the Novgorod province in the area of Tikhvin city of Ustyuzhna. Hieromartyr....

 of Leningrad, the leader of its largest branch.


The death of Patriarch Tikhon, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in April 1925 led to unrest among the followers of the church. Tikhon's designated successors were arrested by the civil authorities
Civil authority
Civil authority is that apparatus of the state other than its military units that enforces law and order. It is also used to distinguish between religious authority and secular authority...

 and Metropolitan Sergius
Patriarch Sergius I of Moscow
Patriarch Sergius I , – May 15, 1944) was the 12th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, from September 8, 1943 until his death. He was also the de facto head of the Russian Orthodox Church as Patriarchal locum tenens in 1925-1943.-Early life:...

 was named '"locum tenens," or a cleric designated to substitute for another. Sergius issued a declaration in 1927 calling all members of the church to profess loyalty towards the Soviet government. The declaration sparked division among the hierarchy
A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another...

, clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

, and laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

, which led to the formation of the Russian True Orthodox Church.

Opposition to Sergius's declaration was based not only on his political concessions, but also on canonical
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 and theological disagreements. His alliance with the authorities allowed him to turn over to the civil authorities all hierarchs, or church administrators, and clergy who were at odds with him on both political and church-related issues.


Many church members and clerics were opposed to Sergius in church doctrine and backed the stand of the new True Orthodox Church. Most of them tried to observe Soviet law
Soviet law
The Law of the Soviet Union—also known as Socialist Law—was the law developed in the Soviet Union following the October Revolution of 1917...

. Yet the Soviet authorities had taken their stand in the dispute and were prepared to use whatever means necessary to bring the bishops under the control of their favorite, Sergius. This control by the Soviets caused True Orthodox Church eparchies (geographical areas under control of a bishop) and communities to go underground
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

 for the entire Soviet period.

In the 1970s and 1980s, many of these communities had lost their last bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s and many of their priests. They were forced to exist underground and celebrate services without a spiritual leader.


With the change in Russian political life in the late 1980s, the True Orthodox Church began to make itself known publicly. Individual fellowships solved the question of their future in different ways: Some of them joined the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which by that time had begun to operate within the country itself. Others, like the Russian True Orthodox Church, Metropolis
A metropolis is a very large city or urban area which is a significant economic, political and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or international connections and communications...

 of Moscow, renewed their episcopacy and clergy through arrangements made with other jurisdictions.

In 1996 a group of Russian Orthodox clergy and laity approached Patriarch Dymytriy
Patriarch Dymytriy (Yarema)
Patriarch Dymytriy was the second patriarch of Kiev and all Ukraine, and of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church...

 of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church is one of the three major Orthodox Churches in Ukraine. Close to ten percent of the Christian population claim to be members of the UAOC. The other Churches are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Russophile Orthodox...

 (UAOC), to ask for assistance in restoring a hierarchy for what was to be named the Russian True Orthodox Church. In June 1996, with the blessing of Patriarch Dymytriy, Archbishop Roman, and Bishop Mefodiy (later Metropolitan Mefodiy
Metropolitan Mefodiy (Kudryakov)
Metropolitan Mefodiy in the city of Kopychentsi, Husyatyn region in the district of the Ternopol region.A graduate of the Moscow Theological Academy in Zagorsk....

) of the UAOC, Hieromonk
Hieromonk , also called a Priestmonk, is a monk who is also a priest in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism....

 John was ordained a bishop of the Russian True Orthodox Church in order to restore apostolic succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

. In December 1996 Bishops John and Mefodiy ordained Archimandrite
The title Archimandrite , primarily used in the Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic churches, originally referred to a superior abbot whom a bishop appointed to supervise...

 Stefan a bishop for the Russian True Orthodox Church. These two bishops, John and Stefan, might thereupon pass the succession to the rest of the bishops of the Russian True Orthodox Church.

Contemporary church

In 2000 the Russian True Orthodox Church officially added "Metropolis of Moscow" to its name to distinguish it from other groups within Russia.

Today, the church is led by Metropolitan Vyacheslav of Moscow and Kolomensk, together with Archbishop Mikhail of Bronitsk and Velensk, Archbishop Alexy (Bondarenko)
Archbishop Alexy (Bondarenko)
Archbishop Alexy has been Bishop since 2003, Archbishop since 2005 , Archdiocese of North America -External links:*...

 of the Archdiocese of North America, Bishop Haralampos (Western Rite), and Bishop Vladimir.

External links

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