UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
11th Regular Sobor of Ukrainian Orthodox Communities in Diaspora Took Place in Munich, Germany
Clergy and faithful from various Ukrainian Orthodox parish communities from across France, Germany, Australia, Belgium, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand gathered in Munich, Germany for the 11th Regular Clergy-Laity Gathering- Sobor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora during the weekend of October 30 – November 1, 2015.
His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, the Prime hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Locum Tenens of the Ukrainian Orthodox communities in Diaspora along with His Eminence Archbishop Ioan, Ruling hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox parishes in Europe as well as in Australia and New Zealand opened the proceedings of Sobor with a Moleben service at Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Munich, thus giving a prayerful beginning to the life-giving and inspiring sessions and conversations about the life of various parish communities of Ukrainian Orthodox Church throughout Diaspora. At the conclusion of the prayer service, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony greeted Archbishop Ioan on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of archpastoral service and on behalf of the hierarchs of the UOC of the USA presented him with the archpastoral staff. At the same time, the pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Munich, Very Rev. Fr. Valentyn Smoktynowych greeted Metropolitan Antony with the 30th anniversary of his service as a hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora.
In his opening remarks, Metropolitan Antony called everyone in attendance to remain faithful to the sacred precepts of Holy Orthodox Church as the world is challenged by numerous social and moral challenges. Conveying the greetings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Metropolitan Antony quoted from the official Patriarchal letter: “…Meeting together with faithful from all over the world – including the United States, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand - is not merely a response to a legal obligation. Above and beyond all, it is a unique opportunity to share with one another news about developments on the parish, regional and global levels, especially at a time when our world is facing numerous tests to the Church’s unity and peace… More particularly, however, in your own blessed nation of Ukraine, the ongoing changes and challenges are continually in our mind and heart as well as in our prayer in order that God may continue to guide His people to a place of refreshment, unity and reconciliation for the glory of His Name and the spiritual growth of the Ukrainian people…”
Archbishop Ioan, greeting Metropolitan Antony as well as Bishop Daniel of the UOC of the USA and the delegates of the 11st Sobor expressed his archpastoral joy, as the Sobor of the Church begins the ministry of examining the work completed in the last 5 years and opens a new chapter in the life of various European and Oceanic parish families.
Once the formal proceedings of the Clergy-Laity council began and quorum was confirmed, His Grace Bishop Daniel offered greetings of the Consistory of the UOC of the USA, sharing with the delegates of the Sobor the story of Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in the United States of America, yet reminding everyone in attendance about the importance of preserving and passing on the “torch of living Faith” of Ukrainian Orthodoxy to the next generations of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians throughout the world, especially in the days when in the ancestral homeland of Ukraine, the struggle for ecclesiastical unity turns attention to the Ukrainian Orthodox communities in Diaspora who can provide assistance and guidance.
Throughout the first day of plenary sessions, numerous reports of the Council of Metropolia, Consistories, and Offices of Ministries were presented and discussed. At the same time, delegates offered their thoughts and suggestions for consideration as the future leaders of the offices of ministry and administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox parish families in Diaspora being elected.
As the first day of business sessions concluded, a Memorial service – Pankhyda was served by Metropolitan Antony, Archbishop Ioan and Bishop Daniel, assisted by the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox parish families in Diaspora, for the fallen heroes of Ukrainian nation – victims of various political atrocities and crimes against Ukrainian people, including the most recent massacre at Ukrainian Majdan in Kyiv as well as mote than 8000 victims of terrorist activities in the Eastern part of Ukraine.
On Saturday morning, October 31, 2015 the 11th Sobor continued its work with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. With the blessing of Metropolitan Antony, His Grace Bishop Daniel presided over the celebration of the Liturgy, calling on those in attendance to truly live their Faith through spontaneous and random acts of Christian love and charity. Vladyka Daniel also reminded everyone in attendance that while the parish churches of Ukrainian Orthodox Church exist throughout the world, we need to remember that our communities are true families of brethren in Christ, praying not only for our own needs – but must be and become an integral part of community activities and charitable outreach ministries in the counties where the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians find their new home. Reflecting the message of Bishop Daniel’s sermon, the Divine Liturgy was served and chanted in the native languages of nations where the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians find themselves: Ukrainian, French, English, Welch, Church Slavonic and German.
As the first plenary session of Saturday morning was opened, Archbishop Ioan introduced the head of the Nominations Committee – Very Rev. Valentyn Smoktynovych who voiced the results of the work of Nominations Committee – proposal to formally elect the Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA as the fifth Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox parish communities in Diaspora. Following the nominations, and according to the sacred tradition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Diaspora, the delegates of the 11th Regular Sobor cast their votes in sacred chalice of Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish, thus electing His Eminence Metropolitan Antony as the First Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox parishes in Diaspora. Following the election, a formal letter of the Sobor’s decision was drafted for the Patriarchal office and submitted to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I requesting to include the name of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony into the Dyptics of the Holy Orthodox Church as Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox parish communities in Diaspora. Moreover, Bishop Daniel was asked to assume the responsibilities of the Assistant Bishop to the Metropolitan in order to provide more frequent archpastoral visits to the parishes in Western Europe.
As proceedings of the Sobor continued, a set of resolutions of the 11th Regular Sobor was adopted and elections to the offices of ministry of the Metropolia conducted.
The discussions of the day included concrete plans for close cooperation with charitable projects of the UOC of the USA as well as pastoral ministerial projects in local parish communities in the nations where the Ukrainian Orthodox parishes minister and serve, among them the need for soup kitchen support, youth ministry, orphanage and widow adoption projects. The delegates expressed their concern and desire for better communication between the eparchial structures and need for continued clergy education.
Reflecting upon the mission of the Holy Orthodox Church in the Western World, the delegates of the Church expressed their gratitude to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for the ecological initiative in our society as well for the efforts in reconciling the anomaly of Ukrainian Orthodox ecclesiastical division.
The Sobor of the Church came a conclusion on Saturday evening with the celebration of Vespers service and preparation of the delegates for the Eucharistic celebration of the Divine Liturgy of Sunday morning.
On Sunday, 1 November, Hierarchal Liturgy was celebrated in Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church with His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel and the clergy of the Church concelebrating in the presence of His Eminence Archbishop Ioan, who due to health reasons was not able to concelebrate. Moreover, the local bishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Bishop Peter attended the Divine Liturgy sharing with those in attendance the brotherly message of hope for closer cooperation between the Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic communities in Germany and other European and Oceanic countries.
The 11th Regular Sobor came to conclusion after a wonderful traditional farewell brunch in the local Tulip Inn hotel following Divine Liturgy, with a local ensemble PERLYNY UKRAINY performing.
The participants and many guests from Church services enjoyed one last opportunity to share thoughts about what they learned during the Clergy-Laity gathering and how they might work together to ensure that what they decided at the Sobor came to fruition.
The hierarchs expressed their sincere gratitude to all who participated in the Sobor and urged vigilance in building up their local communities and reaching out to the world around them with the message of Christ’s Gospel – by living lives reflective of His Love and mercy.