Without liturgy there is no Christianity.
–Old Believer Bishop Mikhail
The term Old Believers (or Old Ritualists) refers to a number of groups that arose as a result of Russian church reforms, 1654-1666, when Patriarch Nikon sought to make Russian practices conform to their contemporary Greek counterparts. Conscious of both a departure from tradition and an encroachment of central control over local autonomy, Old Believers endeavored to maintain the rites, symbols and prerogatives of traditional Russian Orthodoxy. With support of the tsar, Nikon began bloody persecutions that lasted, though in lesser degrees, until the decree of religious tolerance in 1905.