August 2017 marks 100 years from the beginning of the local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church which was convened in 1917-1918. This Council was the first attempt, since the close of the 17th c., to gather churchmen of all levels in order to discuss the pressing issues facing the Russian Orthodox Church – this time at the beginning of the 20th c.
Primary topics of discussion at the Council were the renewal of preaching, the question of restoring the Patriarchate, the selection of clergy and the creation of spiritual community between lay people, the use of Russian language in worship, how to get past the effects of the long-term “symphonic” relationship between Church and State in Russia, the role of women in service to the church, and much more. Some questions were only raised, other important decisions were taken, but few of these were given the opportunity to come into practice.
But the significance of the Council, as it turned out, exceeded the significance of the discussions of the day’s most pressing issues. According to the eye-witness accounts of many participants, the Council was a true instance of renewed sobornost in an era during which the age-old union of Church and State was breaking down and the country was drowning in the chaos of revolution. People, “touched by the revolution”, were transfigured, becoming “peaceful, serious workers, who began to see and feel things in a different way. The spirit of peace, renewal and unity of heart, raised us all to a new level…”, recounted Metropolitan Evlogij (Georgievskij).
It could be that this specific appearance of the Church of Christ on the doorstep of national catastrophe is what enabled the new martyrs and helped the church get through the long years of cruel repression that were to follow; it may have been this experience became the spiritual foundation for the flowering of Russian theology and church life, that later took place in the emigration.
The local council of 1917-1918 marked the beginning of a new age in the history of Christianity, characterized by the rebirth of sobornost, the formation of Christian community and the renewal of the spirit and meaning of the Eucharist. Entering into the creative work of the Council’s participants, we are called to ask ourselves some difficult questions. How do we carry on with a broken tradition, not so much in form, as in spirit? What new paths to the creative formation of sobornost reveal God to us today? How, in the first instance, do we renew not the activity of a structure, but the life of the people of God itself? We hope that our Festival will be not only an opportunity to think about sobornost, but an actual instance of sobornost, which itself bears good fruit, also in terms of uniting our nation as a whole.
The Festival’s participants will discuss many questions in a plenary session, as well as in 13 themed pavilion discussions. Insofar as this year is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, one of the pavilions will be dedicated to the Calling our Nation to Repentance Initiative.
We wish to invite to our Festival all those whose hearts are aflame with concern for the fate of the Orthodox Church and who are ready and willing to work for renewal.
The Festival will be held at the Convention Centre at Sokolniki (Pavilions 2, 4 and 7-A)
Festival entrance is by invitation. Please register to receive your invitation.