UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
19th Regular Sobor of the UOC of the USA – Day 1!
“O, Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance…” – with these words on their lips 200 delegates to the 19th Regular Sobor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA walked in a procession to a Cultural Center of St. Andrew Metropolia Center in South Bound Brook, NJ for the official opening of the plenary sessions of the Sobor. Prior to this, a Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom was served at St. Andrew Memorial Church by His Beatitude Metropolitan, opening with the words of prayer the sacred ministry of the Church’s 19th Sobor.
The people of God entered the Cultural Center carrying the sacred icon of the Pochaiv Mother of God and singing the traditional processional hymn as the work assigned by God to those gathered began. Following the opening prayers and singing of the national anthems of the United States of America and Ukraine, His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine, a spiritual father of the Church, addressed the Sobor with his reflections, stating:
Today, the Grace of the Holy Spirit has assembled the hierarchs, clergy and laity together so that with great spiritual strength, that is above our single human expectations, we may place our complete collective attention for the good and growth of our Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA – the Church, the spotless Bride of Jesus Christ, which is the inheritance, the greatest treasure, because she belongs to the only universal Church, which our Lord is the founder and head.
The world would have you think that the Church is a worldly institution, and earthly corporation that belongs to the “elders.” But the reality is that the Church is the very Body of Christ and every member is part of the body through inheritance. Through Adam we received free will, - through the new Adam-Christ we received salvation, because of Golgotha and Pascha…
The way of the world is not to love your enemies, - but the way of the inheritance is to love all; the way of the world is to defend yourself – the way of Christ and the inheritance is to deny yourself. The way of the world is to get everything you can, - the way of the inheritance is to give everything… The way of the world is to look out for yourself, - the way of Christ and his inheritance is to look out for others; the way of the world is to expect repayment here and now, - the way of Christ is to seek treasure in heaven… Our world demands saintly commitment – nothing less…”
Following the Metropolitan’s remarks, His Eminence Metropolitan Yuriy of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada offered his greetings on behalf of the hierarchs, clergy and the faithful of the sister-Church that shares the same history and ministry, calling upon people to remain true to the message of Christ in the 21st century.
Archbishop Ihor of the Kharkiv-Poltava Diocese of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church offered his greetings to the delegates of the Sobor, calling upon the Church in the USA to pray for their brothers and sisters in Ukraine that struggle to realize their own Ukrainian Orthodox Christian identity.
Following the appointment of the Sobor chair persons - Very Rev, Fr. John Nakonechny, a pastor of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, OH and Dr. Paul Micevych of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Los Angeles, CA, as well as Sobor secretaries, a parliamentarian, the working session of the Sobor brought everyone’s attention to the report of the President of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA His Eminence Archbishop Antony.
The Archbishop presented a well prepared historical account of the Church’s ministry in the past 95 years of its ministry in the USA as well as a detailed report on the work of the various ministries of the Church: Office of External Affairs and Ecumenical Relations – Protopresbyter Frank Estocin, Director, until his unexpected repose. V. Rev. Bazyl Zawierucha has been appointed as new Director; Office of Stewardship – V. Rev. Robert Holet, Director; Office of Mission and Parish Development – V. Rev. Michael Kochis, Director; Office of Publications – Bishop Daniel, Director; Office of Financial Affairs – Emil Skocypec, Director; Office of Christian Charity – Dn. Dr. Ihor Mahlay, Director; Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry – Natalie Kapeluck-Nixon, Director; Office of Religious Education – Rev. Fr. Harry Linzinbigler, Director; Office of Public Relations and Communications – Rev. Fr. Ivan Synevskyy, Director; Office of the Archive and History – Dr. Michael Andrec, Director; Office of Development – Dr. Stephen Sivulich, Director; Office of Cultural and Ethnic Affairs – Natalia Honcharenko, Director.
The Archbishop stated: “We, the clergy and faithful “people” of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA – the “inheritance” of God – claimed by Him as His own, saved by His Only-Begotten Son and inspired by His Holy Spirit – have truly been blessed throughout all our history in a nation, which has not subjected us to suppression, repression or aggression. Our history in the United States of America, preserving here the religious legacy and treasury passed on to us by generations of our forefathers is fast approaching the centennial mark. In five short years we will mark the 100th anniversary year. Ninety-five years ago, we were “blessed to have individual clergy like Fr. Hryhorij (Gregory) Chomicky, who founded the first Ukrainian Orthodox parish as the Ukrainian National Church – called Holy Trinity Parish on Erie Street in Chicago, IL, which later became what we now know as St. Volodymyr Cathedral on Cortez Street in Chicago…” Further, the Archbishop reflected on the numerous “blessings” that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA received over the years, including the establishment of St. Sophia Theological Seminary; UOL ministries; St. Andrew Society’s charitable works in Ukraine; United Ukrainian Orthodox Sisterhoods sacrificial love for the Historical and Educational Complex of the Church; All Saints Camp, etc.
The Archbishop also stressed the new challenges that the Church faces as the country and the world continue to deal with the economic crisis of the society. The various officers of the Consistory Offices of Ministry came forward to add to the Archbishop’s report, informing the delegates of the ministries and the work that was accomplished in the past three years. The Archbishop spoke of the financial difficulties that the Church faces, as a result of the continued struggle to maintain dedicated and active ministries in the life of the Church that must be supported by generous donations of and dedications of every single individual of the Church.
The Director of the Office of Financial Affairs, Emil Skocypec presented a complete financial report with detailed graphs exhibiting the receipt and utilization of all funds contributed to or earned by our Church. He satisfactorily responded to all questions from the Sobor delegates and forcefully put across the message that our financial condition needs much, much improvement if we hope to continue the multitude of ministry programs we have developed, in addition to maintaining the vast complex, which is our Metropolia Center. Mr. Skocypec was very forthright in stating that our income MUST be increased to avoid continuous operation in the red. The Archbishop has always resolutely proclaimed that “the Lord will provide” and He always has, but we need to be proactive on our own in meeting our problems head-on. He expressed his deepest gratitude to the Assistant Director of the Office, Natalia Honcharenko, who has always done a most extensive and accurate job in keeping and reporting our financial affairs.
Sobor reports of the Provost of St. Sophia Seminary, Very Rev. Bazyl Zawierucha, the Deans of the Church’s Deaneries, of the presidents of the Ukrainian Orthodox League, St. Andrew Society and United Ukrainian orthodox Sisterhoods rounded out the day’s plenary session.
A workshop/seminar entitled: “Rekindling the Dying Flame!” was presented by Protopresbyter Taras Chubenko, member of the Metropolitan Council and pastor of St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Carteret, NJ. Fr. Taras presented reflection on his Doctoral dissertation addressing the pastoral and spiritual needs of the parishes. The program had to be concluded interrupting the discussion because of the late hour.
The working day concluded with a Vespers service at the Three Holy Hierarchs chapel of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary, during which Very Rev, Fr. Taras Udod, a vice-chair of Presidium of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada offered a brief reflection on a calling of a Christian in the 21st century.
While everyone left the Metropolia center for the evening’s rest, members of the executive body of St. Andrew Society gathered at the Consistory’s library, under the leadership of His Eminence Archbishop Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel and a president of the Church’s organization Protodeacon Dr. Ihor Mahlay, to reflect and make plans for the next several years of charitable outreach projects of the Society, which provides scholarships to students in Ukraine, sponsors soup-kitchens in Ukraine, etc.
The late hour of the evening concluded the work of the Sobor delegates in order to come back early in the morning on October 28, 2010 for a second full day of dedicated work, as the Sobor, inspired by the Holy Spirit, continues to nurture the spirit of love and compassion among the faithful flock of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.