On November 12-15, 1963, the Eleventh Sobor was convened. This council, in its forward-looking decisions that discerned definite Church growth since the last council and foresaw the coming autocephaly (though concrete discussion of this issue at the council was deemed premature), provided additional structure for the central church administration. It created the positions of chancellor, secretary and treasurer and made the individuals fulfilling these functions, who would be appointed by the Council of Bishops, ex officio members of the restructured Metropolitan Council. With the inclusion of diocesan representatives into the Metropolitan Council, the demarcation of the territorial Church into formal diocesan structures with definitive boundaries became explicit. The Statute was amended to strengthen the rector’s position as presiding officer in parish decision-making processes. In an effort to create order and to eliminate abuses and aberrations in the liturgical life of the Church, the council accepted recommendations by the Liturgical Commission and made them mandatory for all parishes.
On the last day of the council, Archbishop BENJAMIN (Basalyga) of Pittsburgh, who in 1933 had become the first American-born Orthodox bishop, was mourned as he had passed away early that morning.
In the organizational changes it enacted, the 1963 Sobor undoubtedly made great strides for the Metropolia on its path to autocephaly.
Written by Alexis Liberovsky
OCA Archivist, Director of the Department of History and Archives.