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Eastern Christianity

Old Believers

Doctrines On all major issues the Old Believers are in agreement with other Eastern Orthodox churches. ( see Eastern Orthodoxy.) They reject the reforms introduced in the seventeenth century to the texts and practices of the Russian Orthodox Church.

History In 1666 the Patriarch of Moscow Nikon ordered the Russian Orthodox Church to be reformed in such a way that it adopted the liturgy and practices of the Greek Church. These reforms were opposed by a group of Muscovite priests who were anathematised and whose leaders were executed. The dissenters split into two groups: the Popovtsy and the Bezpopovtsy. The Popovtsy (priestly sects) sought to establish a church based upon a priestly hierarchy. The Bezpopovtsy (priestless sects) rejected the priesthood and all sacraments apart from Baptism. The two groups survived the Russian revolution.
In 1971 the Russian Orthodox Church revoked the anathemas of the seventeenth century.

Symbols Festal icons, Mary as Theotokos, Christ as Pantocrator. (See Eastern Orthodoxy.)

Adherents There are about 1,000,000 Old Believers. There are Old Believers in Latvia and Lithuania as well as in the Russian Federation.

Main Centre
 Moscow, Rogozhovsky pos. 29; tel. (095) 361-51-92.