Convened on December 5-8, 1950, the Eighth Sobor was the first of six consecutive councils to assemble at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in New York City. Metropolitan THEOPHILUS had died on June 27, 1950. As the council assembled, virtually everyone knew that only Archbishop LEONTY (Turkevich) of Chicago could be the Church’s new Primate. Indeed the council delegates elected him nearly unanimously and the Council of Bishops immediately confirmed this election.
The council also reviewed developments in relations with the Moscow Patriarchate and the ROCOR and heard reports from various administrative bodies and on the continuing work of drafting a statute for the Metropolia.
In electing Metropolitan LEONTY, the council chose a person who had come to serve the North American Church under Saint TIKHON in 1906. Metropolitan LEONTY fully understood and shared Saint TIKHON’s vision for Orthodoxy in North America. He had served as seminary teacher and rector. He also attended the All-Russian Church Council in Moscow in 1917-18 that elected Saint TIKHON as Patriarch. Shortly thereafter, he witnessed the horrible Soviet persecution of the Church in Russia. Upon his return to America, he played an instrumental role in articulating the vision of the North American Church at every sobor. This great breadth of knowledge and experience as well as his personal humility and prayerfulness enabled Metropolitan LEONTY to prepare the Metropolia for imminent autocephaly during his fifteen years as Primate. It was therefore providential that the Eighth Sobor elected this saintly hierarch to be the Metropolia’s leader.
Written by Alexis Liberovsky
OCA Archivist, Director of the Department of History and Archives.