The Autonomous Russian Orthodox Church (AROC, or ROAC) is the Higher Church Authority in Russia established in 1994 after the official collapse of the God-hating Soviet regime, under which millions of New-Martyrs were made through persecution. Also known since 1990 as the Free Russian Orthodox Church, the AROC is the voice of genuine Orthodox Christianity untainted by state politics in the Russian land.
The Persecuted Russian Church
In 1920, Patriarch St.Tikhon, himself a martyr and the last free Patriarch of the Russian Church, composed a decree which gave the persecuted Christians a way to organize under a goverment which tried to rob the Church of its existence. Local parishes were to organize around their Bishops, and those Bishops, whenever possible, were to form Higher Church Synods to preserve the Orthodox teaching established by Christ and the Apostles.
It was the task of the Russian Orthodox Bishops outside the Russian borders to preserve the Orthodox teaching and maintain communications with the persecuted Church inside Russia, which was faithfully done. Meanwhile, the Stalinist government in Russia, realizing that it could not destroy the Church, attempted a new tactic: installing agents of the atheist government in monasteries and Bishoprics, starting with the arrest of Metropolitan Sergius in 1927, who capitulated and helped the government create a state-sponsored “Orthodox Church”. (For his efforts, Metropolitan Sergius became the first “restored” Patriarch of Moscow.) Meanwhile, the Russian Church went into hiding, as did the first Christians in the catacombs, earning them the name “the Catacomb Church”.
In the late 1970’s, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia began a process of assisting in the restoration of canonical administration to the underground Russian Churches. By 1994, the Free Russian Orthodox Church, as it had come to be called, was comprised of hundreds of parishes throughout Russia.
This restoration did not come without a downside, however; the Russian Bishops outside Russia, after restoring canonical order in Russia, began dialogue with the state-sponsored Moscow Patriarchate, in direct opposition to her mission to restore the Church in the Russian land. Today, news articles showing the results of this endeavor are well-known. The Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia, once the standard-bearer of untainted Orthodox Christianity, has finally capitulated to the only active remnant of the state regime– the Moscow Patriarchate.
In 2000, the Free and self-governing Russian Orthodox Church, under the capable leadership of Metropolitan VALENTINE of Suzdal, made overtures to traditional Orthodox Christians throughout the world to reunite in God-loving communion with particular pastoral concern for North America, which was a Russian mission territory before the Revolution. Since then the Church has been primarily focused on missionary efforts.
Thus, over 80 years after the most devastating attempt to destroy the Church since the first centuries of Christianity, the AROC continues the mission established by Christ and given to His Holy Apostles: Go and preach the Gospel to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.