Sobor. A formal gathering or council of bishops, church officials, and monastic and lay representatives morally representing the whole particular church and dealing with matters of faith, morality, rite, and canonical and cultural life. The term is derived from the Church Slavonic word for an assembly. The sobor is distinguished from the synod, which is usually an assembly of bishops. From the earliest days of the Christian church, councils were convened as a means of deciding matters related to church life and policy. The development of a full church infrastructure led eventually to the existence of several types of sobors reflecting different ecclesiastical jurisdictions. These include ecumenical (vselenskyi), particular (pomisnyi), provincial (provintsiinyi), eparchial (eparkhiialnyi), and minor (soborchyk) sobors.
The ecumenical sobor is a general council of the whole church; it brings together the church hierarchy of the whole Christian world to resolve fundamental matters of faith, morality, and ecclesiastical discipline. According to the Orthodox teaching, only seven ecumenical sobors of the Christian church have been convoked (between 325 and 787). Since the split into the Catholic and Orthodox churches, Catholics have continued to hold ecumenical sobors (8th–21st), convoked by the pope, which are not recognized but are occasionally attended by the representatives of the Orthodox church. The particular sobor brings together the clergy (occasionally the laity as well) of a particular church; it is presided over by the head of the particular or autocephalous church (ie, a patriarch, major archbishop, or metropolitan). The decisions of the sobor are binding on all the members of the particular church, although in the case of Ukrainian Catholics the decisions must first be approved by the pope.
Sobors are also held within specific ecclesiastical jurisdictions. Provincial sobors take place in metropolies not headed by a patriarch or major archbishop. In many respects they resemble particular sobors. Eparchial sobors bring together representatives of the clergy and frequently lay church leaders from within the jurisdiction of a single bishop. Minor sobors are assemblies of representatives from a deanery under the authority of a protopresbyter.
Chronicles record the first known Ukrainian church sobor as having taken place in Kyiv in 1051. Sobors were convened periodically from then on; one notable assembly held in 1415 formed a separate metropoly for the church in Lithuanian lands. Once established in 1596, the Ukrainian Catholic church convened sobors and synods of its own. A particularly notable sobor, held in 1640 under the leadership of Metropolitan Petro Mohyla, involved a considerable body of lay people and approved a new profession of faith for the Orthodox church. Ukrainian Orthodox sobors ceased to be held for several hundred years following the church's absorption into the Russian Orthodox church in 1685. Assemblies of this sort were convened once more only in 1918 and 1921, in conjunction with the restoration of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church. A major tenet of this church was the primacy of the sobor, with the full participation of the laity, in church affairs (see Sobor rule). Since the Second World War various jurisdictions of the Ukrainian Orthodox church have held a number of major sobors in the West. On 5–6 June 1990 an all-Ukrainian sobor was held in Kyiv which revived the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox church and elected Metropolitan Mstyslav Skrypnyk the patriarch of Kyiv and all Ukraine.
Diiannia i postanovy L’vivs’kykh arkhyeparkhiial’nykh soboriv 1940–43 pid provodom Sluhy Bozhoho Mytropolyta Andreia Sheptyts’koho (Winnipeg 1984)
I. Korovytsky, I. Patrylo
Encyclopedia of Ukraine