World War II prevented convocation of the Seventh Sobor until 1946. Various circumstances brought on by the war had greatly changed the Orthodox situation throughout the world. Therefore the Seventh Sobor, convened in Cleveland on November 26-29, 1946, determined that the “temporary arrangement” with the ROCOR agreed to in 1935 was no longer in effect. In 1943 and 1945, Patriarchs SERGIUS (Stragorodsky) and ALEKSY I (Simansky) had successively been elected in Moscow. The North American Metropolia had been invited to send a delegation to the Moscow Council of 1945. This was perceived as a sign that the hopes of the Detroit Council of 1924 could be fulfilled and full relations could be resumed with the Moscow Patriarchate. The Seventh Sobor therefore resolved to petition Patriarch ALEKSY I of Moscow to accept the North American Metropolia under his spiritual leadership while maintaining her full autonomous status. Subsequent negotiations between the Metropolia and the Patriarchate brought no consensus and the Metropolia continued her life as defined by the Fourth Sobor, estranged from the Church of Russia for another quarter of a century.
At the Seventh Sobor, the Metropolia’s pain in her estrangement from the Church of Russia and her ardent wish to see this division healed were clearly evident. However, the North American Church also expressed a vision to continue her unencumbered development as charted by previous councils and foreseen by the early North American missionaries.
Written by Alexis Liberovsky
OCA Archivist, Director of the Department of History and Archives.