Studying a Parish Community in a Small Town: The Role of the Priest and Other Aspects of Orthodox Communality

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Polina Vrublevskaya


This article is devoted to the everyday life of an Orthodox parish in a small town in Russia. Starting with a critical analysis of existing approaches to measuring religiosity, the author tries to find ”communal” dimensions of religiosity, which typify Orthodox Christianity in today’s Russia. The text traces the history of the local churchsince its restoration and analyzes a variety of interactions and the development ofrelations among Orthodox parishioners, as well as their relations with the priests. Drawing on ethnographic data and interviews, the author identifies indicators suitable for analyzing parish life and what it means to belong to the parish community. The conclusion is that the parish community is formed of extensive and continuous interactions among parishioners that are not limited to religious practices yet still initiated by clergy. It is suggested that the figure of the priest should take a central place when studying Orthodox parish communities. The article also describes how to incorporate these aspects into further investigations of Orthodox Christianity. In Russian.


Religiosity, Orthodox Christianity, Church, Priests, Parish, Religious Community

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