UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Statement of the Council of Bishops of the UOC of the USA on the 240th Anniversary of US Independence
Beloved brethren in the Lord:
This weekend we celebrate Independence Day as one nation under God. Whether you call it the Fourth of July or Independence Day, the tradition goes back to the American Revolution. As students of history we know about the representatives of the 13 colonies gathering in June 1776, to consider a resolution that would declare that independence from Great Britain. First, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence on July 2nd and then just two days later, its delegates adopted the document drafted by Thomas Jefferson - Declaration of Independence.
The signatories affirm that since all people are creatures of God, they have certain natural rights and liberties, that cannot be violated. Historically speaking, the change did not come easy for the colonies. The war was long and bitter. And even after the British surrendered, the young nation struggled on every front.
As years went by and a united nation came into being, we have benefitted as individuals who have the freedom to practice our Faith, enjoy the diversity of multi-culturalism, and celebrate the blessings given to a free people. Yet, it is disheartening when we pick up the newspaper and read about churches being burned to the ground or worshippers being gunned down at a prayer meeting, amongst many other attacks. This holiday weekend reminds us of the freedoms we enjoy, which we can never take for granted.
As citizens of America, perceived as the greatest nation the world has ever known, we define our identity outside the boundaries of geography or common ethnic ancestry. The stories of how our grandparents or great grandparents immigrated to the United States, most at a very young age, simply amaze us. They yearned for a life that would bring fulfillment and blessings and they were willing to sacrifice everything for a taste of what America might provide for them and their families. Our ancestors were people from every corner of the globe, most in the last two centuries, in pursuit of a most noble and remarkable vision – that they could live in freedom with their God-given rights respected.
It is, therefore, a common creed, not common ancestral roots, which binds us together. That creed was best expressed in the Declaration of Independence that announced, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Americans are forever indebted to those who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to make this experiment in ordered liberty possible.
As Americans, Ukrainian-Americans and most importantly as Christians, we have reason to be filled with gratitude at all times. We must express that gratitude to God, Who gave our forefathers the opportunity to find a home in America, to our Founding Fathers who set forth those principles that constitute our creed and to all the generations and those that who have defended our nation and still do today. Beloved in Christ! We cherish our rights and freedoms. We must be willing go to great lengths to preserve them for ourselves, for our children, and for generations to come. As you celebrate Independence Day, thank God for all He makes possible in your life!
Perhaps this Independence Day, we might go one step further and offer this prayer for our country:
Almighty God you have given us this great land of the United States of America as our heritage. We humbly pray that we may always remember your generosity and faithfully do your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education and an honorable way of life. Defend our liberties and strengthen the resolve of all those who have come from various places in the world to make the United States of America their home. Lead us to choose the sometimes more difficult “correct” instead of the sometimes much easier “wrong”. Help us to appreciate the opportunities that are ours as we struggle to bring harmony to an unsettled world. May we balance our concern for justice with a willingness to display mercy. May our concern for security be tempered with a willingness to take risks that will produce worthwhile change for the good of all people. O Lord, we pray for your guidance as we work together in the best interests of our communities, our nation, our world. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful and in troubled times, let our deepest trust and faith be forever in You. For You are a Merciful and Loving God and we give glory to You – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
By the Grace of God Metropolitan of the UOC of the USA and Diaspora
By the Grace of God Bishop of the UOC of the USA