The main task of the Sixth Sobor, held in New York on October 5-8, 1937, was to assess the initiatives undertaken by Metropolitan THEOPHILUS since the last council. In an effort toward jurisdictional unity, Bishop ADAM (Philipovsky) and his Carpatho-Russian Diocese had been accepted into the Metropolia. Moreover, Metropolitan THEOPHILUS had traveled to Serbia where, under the leadership of the Serbian Patriarch, an agreement was signed by the leading hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) along with other exiled Russian hierarchs throughout the world forging a peaceful coexistence. Under this agreement, the American Church was to retain her administrative autonomy while maintaining close relations with the ROCOR Synod and being accountable to it only in matters of faith. The parallel jurisdictions of the Metropolia and ROCOR were thus eliminated and the four ROCOR hierarchs in North America along with their clergy and parishes were integrated into the Metropolia. The vote of the Sixth Sobor on this loose affiliation with the ROCOR was as follows: 105 for, 9 against, 122 abstentions. The large number of abstentions reveals that there was much apprehension on this issue at the council. However, in approving the matter, the council delegates showed respect and obedience to Metropolitan THEOPHILUS’ primatial leadership.
The council also decided to open St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York and St. Tikhon’s Pastoral School in South Canaan, PA. As the previous seminary had been forced to close in 1923, this decision filled an educational vacuum and assured the systematic training of the Church’s future clergy.
In addition, the council continued the ongoing development of the Church’s administrative structure through the legislation of statute articles defining the role of the Metropolitan, the Council of Bishops, the Diocesan Council and the dioceses.
At the Sixth Sobor, the vote of the delegates displayed a strong desire to maintain the absolute administrative autonomy of the North American Church (commonly known as the “Metropolia”). The establishment of educational institutions indicated a long-term vision for the future, and the continuing development of the statute demonstrated a growing organizational maturity.
Written by Alexis Liberovsky
OCA Archivist, Director of the Department of History and Archives.