Saturday, July 2, 2022

    OCU has asserted itself, continuing to grow: Today marks three years since Unification Council

    It has been three years since the Unification Council, which united the three streams of once divided Ukrainian Orthodoxy into a single powerful and unrestrained flow. The local Ukrainian Orthodox Church has established itself and continues to grow, accepting new communities and believers into its family, the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine wrote in a blog.

    “Is it possible to list all the achievements of the Ukrainian Church over these years? Even ten posts would not be enough. After all, the Church is not just a few dozen bishops headed by Primate. Not just a few thousand clergymen… The Orthodox Church of Ukraine exists only in and thanks to the multimillion unity of the clergy and the faithful. It was our unity and faith that helped the Ukrainian Church to assert itself against the encroachments and interferences of those who were annoyed by our independence. The independence gained through centuries of struggle and exile, the independence that’s been suffered and is therefore especially valued.

    Due to its historical path, the Ukrainian people are well aware of all the hardships of the liberation struggle and the establishment of independence. Prolonged oppression, physical, spiritual, or cultural occupation means that a nation, its culture, and its spirituality are either assimilated or developed the opposite way, distancing themselves as much as possible from the dominant, imposed worldview. And both ways are harmful! After all, in the first case, the nation loses its face. And in the second – it grows in unconditional dependence on the “enemy,” becoming unable to exist independently, finding the very sense of their existence in doing things “not like them”

    And, perhaps, one of the greatest achievements of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, one of the main confirmations of its formation over these three years was the shaping up of its own face – the face of a one and independent Church of the Ukrainian people.

    Our Church is national and stands with the people. In cities and small villages, in temples and online broadcasts of services, in trenches in the East and at hospital beds, in the My Church mobile app in the phones of many believers, in the Maidan Square with the needy, in a shelter for victims of violence, and at HIV awareness and prevention courses.

    Our Church preserves its history and traditions and accepts the challenges of the present. We debunk myths about the Orthodox faith, accept appeals online, communicate with the faithful across social media, and at the same time stand on a solid foundation – faith in the Lord and love that unites us in one Church.

    Our Church is autocephalous, it has been recognized, it’s 15th in the Diptych of the Orthodox Churches. We, Ukrainians, are well aware of the price of independence – or rather, its pricelessness – and therefore treat it with special reverence. In the summer of the 30th anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine’s independence, we had the opportunity to celebrate along with someone who led us to the ecumenical proclamation of independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukrainian – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

    Three years ago, the Unification Council became an important milestone in the formation of the local Orthodox Church of Ukraine. But after a tree has been planted, you cannot give up on it. We need to grow it, water it, protect it from pests, and vaccinate it in order to get great fruit every year.

    “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”(2 Cor. 9:6-8).