The Russian Orthodox Church and the Education of Russian Emigration of the 1920-30s

  1. Lemma
  2. Русская православная церковь в образовательном пространстве Российской эмиграции: 20-30-е гг. XX в.
  3. Russian
  4. Asliturk, Miriam
  5. Ecumenism and dialogue > Education - Culture and national identities
  6. 19-08-2018
  7. Лаптун, B. И. [Author]. Русская православная церковь в образовательном пространстве Российской эмиграции: 20-30-е гг. XX в.
  8. Интеграция образования
  9. History of the Russian Orthodox Church - Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA) - Higher Education - history of Russian education - Clergy
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    1. <p>Лаптун, B. И. (2009). Русская православная церковь в образовательном пространстве Российской эмиграции: 20-30-е гг. XX в. <em>Интеграция образования</em>, (1), 21-23.</p>
    1. Around one million Russians left the country just after the Revolution of 1917. A large part of the Russian Orthodox Church’s hierarchs left as well. France became the centre of Russian immigration in Europe. There were 200 000 Russians there in the 1920s and around 70 000 just before the Second World War. Around 95 % of Russians abroad belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church played a big role in preserving Russian identity and culture abroad, placing an important focus on education.

      In 1921 the Russian Orthodox Church Aboard (ROCA) sponsored the creation of the Russian Student Christian Organization in Czechoslovakia that soon spread all over Europe. Historian of Russian philosophy V.V. Zenkovsky (1881-1962) was the head of the Russian Student Christian Organization. Another Orthodox Christian organization Ikona was founded in Paris in 1925 by ex-banker and philanthropist Ryabushinsky (1873-1955), who sought to preserve Russian culture abroad and emphasized the importance of the Russian Orthodox Church. These organizations however lacked priests within the Russian community. 

      When the Russian community realized that their exile would be long, they decided to organize educational programs for ROCA clergy. In 1925, the St. Sergius Theological Institute was founded in Paris. The Institute educated new clergy and gave modest but very helpful fellowships to Russian émigré scholars. These fellowships helped popularize Russian culture abroad and some eminent scholars came from there. Some of the Institute’s famous professors include S. Bulgakov (1871-1944), F. Florovsky(1893-1979), and G. Zenkovsky, who made a great contribution to Russian Orthodox Christian Theology.

      Russians in Manchuria and in the Far East in general faced a grimmer reality. The ROCA became their only refuge to preserve their culture. Monks of the Shmakov monastery founded a ROCA monastery in Harbin where, since 1928, they also had a publishing house. The monastery published the religious magazine Khleb nebesny and had courses for the clergy. In 1938 they opened the Theological Institute of St. Vladimir in Harbin (closed in 1945). This institute accepted people only with complete secondary education; others could be enrolled as free students. Most students came from Svyato-Alekseevskaya Seminary founded in 1938 in Harbin.

      Another ROCA institution, St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary, was opened near New York in 1938. This seminary published more than 200 books and had a big influence on Russian Orthodox Christians worldwide. G. Florovsky left Paris to become the dean there in 1948, later working as professor at Harvard and Princeton. Many important religious thinkers were affiliated with the New York seminary such as philosopher and historian G. Fedotov (1886-1951), writer N. Arsenyev (1888-1977), philosopher N. Lossky (1870-1965), theologians protoiereus Schmemman (1921-1983) and protoiereus J. Meyendorf (1926-1992).