of the 21st SOBOR of the
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
3 April 2016
Third Sunday of Great Lent
Veneration of the Holy Cross of our Lord
My dear brothers and sisters, the beloved clergy and faithful of our
Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America,
All Glory be to our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, today, tomorrow and forever!
“CALLED BY CHRIST…
GIFTED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT”
These words define the experience we all will have when we gather together on 19-23 October 2016 at our Metropolia Center in the Name of God in the Holy Trinity to convene the twenty-first Regular Sobor of our Church. It will be, once again, an opportunity for us as the inheritors of an incredibly rich spiritual legacy passed on to us by our forefathers and mothers in our Holy Orthodox Faith to consider and evaluate our success in not only living up to that legacy, but, indeed, enriching it for the generations that follow us.
We all are involved in the ministry of our Holy Church. At the moment of our Baptism we “clothed ourselves in Christ” and through our Chrismation we received the fullness of the “Gift” of the Holy Spirit. It is not at some particular moment “later” in our lives that we suddenly “discover” Christ and “experience” the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. At that moment of our Baptism and Chrismation, we all were “CALLED BY CHRIST AND GIFTED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT”. Following that moment, all that we do and all that we are is continually reinforced in us through all the Holy Sacraments – especially through the Holy Eucharist – Christ uniting with us in our own bodies – “the temples of the Holy Spirit”, as we are defined by St. Paul. (1 Cor. 6:19)
We are taught through all of our liturgical worship, the readings of Holy Scripture – the Gospels and the Old Testament – through the preaching of our spiritual fathers, through our Christian education courses and through our loving and sharing with one another – throughout all the years of our life – that we ARE Christ’s ministers. The earliest of our Christian brethren were well aware of this. As they gathered together to worship as the Body of Christ – they have written that their hearts literally throbbed with the knowledge that they received Christ together and had a responsibility to go back into the world to witness to Him by the Grace of the Holy Spirit in their ministry to fellow man.
During our Sobor we will consider a strategic plan – a VISION FOR THE FUTURE, which will include twenty-five specific goals to strive for in the years following the Sobor if the plan is adopted by decision of the Sobor delegates. For the past many months the Council of the Metropolia has gathered over sixty members of our Church from all generations of our faithful to develop this strategic plan for presentation to the Sobor. Significant to this plan is a Missionary Statement and a Vision Statement to govern and guide the life of our Church through the ancient and specific traditions of our 1028 year old Ukrainian Orthodox Church, especially as she exists here in the United States of America. Our prayer must be that the adoption of this “Vision for the Future” will have profound effect upon the personal devotion of each member of the Church. As we approach the Sobor, you will receive through the Ukrainian Orthodox Word and our website – uocofusa.org – much information about this “Vision”, so that you are well prepared to consider it during our time together. The presentation of the “Vision” will take place all day on Friday, 21 October, through special working groups that all Sobor participants will participate in. WE ARE INVITING ALL THE FAITHFUL OF OUR CHURCH TO JOIN US FOR THIS FULL PRESENTATION.
We look forward to sharing this all too brief time with so many of you during our 21st Regular Sobor! We pray that all parishes will send as many delegates as possible, as denoted in our Church Constitution. Delegates should be elected at the earliest possible date so that they can register immediately with official forms to be sent to the parishes. Our staff here at the Metropolia Center is already busy preparing for your arrival! You are in our prayers on a daily basis in morning prayers at the Consistory and we ask for your prayers for us, as well.
May the Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
In our Lord’s All-encompassing Love,
By the Grace of God, Metropolitan