Ok, so joke’s on you. The church isn’t really alive, nor is this post about some old world Russian sorcery, (which would be really cool!) This “Living” Church is not focused on a building, but on a movement. Known as the Renovationist Movement, The Living Church Movement started as part of a schism of The Russian Orthodox Church in 1922 lasting until 1946. Early on, it was corrupted by the Soviet government in an effort to combine the political and social goals of the government with the Orthodox Church. The general fear among many Russians at the time was that Orthodoxy faced extinction after the Bolshevik Revolution and subsequent creation of Soviet Russia.
This movement began in 1905 as a result of that revolution, however, it did not gain traction and faded away, much like it would in 1917. It wasn’t until the Famine of 1921 when the Politburo of communist Russia approved a plan to strip the church of its valuables, which they claimed was an attempt to feed the starving population that things really came to a head. In reality, Bolshevik leaders secretly wanted to strip the church of any valuables that might be used to finance any political opposition. Clearly, the Soviet government was meddling in church affairs. They wanted full control of all aspects of the communist government and would quell anyone who attempted to stop them. There was no separation of church and state during this time as the division blurred with the government intervention.
Church Patriarch Tikhon (now Saint Tikhon) was against the Soviet government and did everything he could to rally against them. Because he refused to cooperate with the government’s order to seize all church valuables, he was arrested by the communist government. After his arrest and removal from power, members of the government moved swiftly to purge the church of anyone loyal to the imprisoned leader. This move led to hundreds of clergy members loyal to Tikhon being executed after being labeled as counterrevolutionaries by the Soviet government.
In 1923, after publically repenting his “sins” in a letter addressed to the Soviet government in an effort to save the church, Tikhon was released from prison. His actions allowed for many to rally behind him, thus gradually weakening the government backed church’s power causing the schism to incrementally lose ground. In 1946, 21 years after Saint Tikhon’s death, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin finally permitted for the election of a new church patriarch and allowed for church governance to be returned to the church and away from the government for the first time since 1922.
**The title of this particular post is a pairing of wine as a sacramental religious beverage commonly consumed in churches, and the blood (blood of christ) to represent the executed bishops who gave their lives for their beliefs. It was not intended to offend anyone with deeply held religious beliefs or otherwise.**