ROCE - The Synod of the Tikhonites

The Synod of the Tikhonites is another offshoot of the Russian Church Abroad, which was produced as a consequence of Metropolitan Vitaly’s uncanonical union with the so-called Synod of Resistors under the leadership of Metropolitan Cyprian, who introduced the concept of ecumenism into the ecclesiology of the Greek Old Calendarists. Nearly all of Metropolitan Vitaly’s hierarchy ignored this uncanonical union and remained part of Vitaly’s synod, except for a few who understood that this union was against the teaching and canons of the Church, and therefore meant spiritual death.

Among those bishops in Russia who accepted Metropolitan Vitaly’s union with Metropolitan Cyprian was Bishop Lazaros. This showed Bishop Lazaros’ deliberate disregard for the holy canons which forbid any bishop to be in communion with heretics. Despite the fact that Vitaly’s union with Cyprian lasted for eight long years, during which time numerous events occurred through divine providence to awaken Vitaly to repentance, yet Bishop Lazaros remained callous to his betrayal of Orthodoxy.

Eventually Lazaros succeeded in separating from Vitaly’s synod, by forming a new synod in Russia. Tikhon was one of the first men to be “consecrated to the episcopacy” by this new group, which labelled itself the “Russian True Orthodox Church” (RTOC). Metropolitan Vitaly and his synod responded to these events in Russia by deposing Bishop Lazaros and those bishops with him.

Those who say that the Tikhonites are a valid synod, even though they remained in communion with heretics for eight years, must overcome another obstacle, namely that if they were a valid synod under Metropolitan Vitaly then it would follow that his deposition of Bishop Lazaros and the RTOC was also valid.

When Bishop Lazaros died in 2003, Bishop Tikhon was elected to take his place as first hierarch, and thus this group came to be known as Synod of the Tikhonites.


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