UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
19th Regular Sobor of the UOC of the USA – Day 2 and 3!
The second day of the 19th Regular Sobor of the UOC of the USA began with the celebration of Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom served by His Eminence Metropolitan Yuriy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. The clergy of the Central Eparchy of the UOC of the USA concelebrated with the Metropolitan. In his remarks following Divine Liturgy, His Eminence reflected upon the meaning of the meetings of the Sobor in the life of the Church that preaches the Word of God by Living His message of Love.
The entire day on Thursday, 28 October was devoted to Sobor Committee meetings in various meeting rooms at the Holiday Inn and at the Center. The committees included: Church Ministries, Missions, Education, History and Education Complex, Publications, Parish Rejuvenation and Development, Interchurch Relations, Finance, Stewardship, Resolutions, Nominations and Constitution. Each of the delegates to the Sobor was asked to participate in at least two committee discussions – one in the morning and the second in the afternoon. The discussion in each was lively and thorough with each committee preparing a report to be presented to the Sobor plenary session with resolutions, motions and resolutions concerning the committee’s area of interest.
The evening program on Thursday was scheduled as the official banquet of the Sobor. The delegates and guest of the Sobor were given a chance to tour the site of the Historical and Educational Complex at the Metropolia Center of the Church. His Eminence Archbsihop Antony and Mrs. Natalia Honcharenko, a director of the Museum welcomed the delegates to the newly constructed structure and shared with the visitors the vision and the ministry of the Complex in the life of the UOC of the USA.
Dinner was followed by a beautiful musical program offered by several extremely talented individuals: a small choir of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Trenton, NJ that performed three pieces: "Blazhen muzh", "Otche nash" and Communion hymn "O Son of God, receive me today…" The small choir consisted of the following individuals Ellen Scabarozi; Lidia Michalak; Christine Maddalena; Natalie Haluszka; Olena Lymar; Olha Chomyak and Pani-matka Liliya Lymar. In addition to the choir, a duet of sisters Pavlushyn performed several pieces, charming the delegates with their beautiful voices. It was a beautiful and unique program deeply appreciated by the audience.
The official program followed and was a lengthy one, but one filled with love and respect for the contributions that the hierarchs, clergy and the faithful have made in the life of our Church. A special guest was His Eminence Archbishop Demetrius, Exarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Chairman of Episcopal Assembly of Bishops in the USA and head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the USA, who warmly and with much love greeted the hierarchs and the delegates of the Sobor in behalf of His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew.
His Eminence Metropolitan Yurij of Canada and Very Rev. Michael Rosco, representing Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Archdiocese in America offered their greetings to the Sobor delegates. In conclusion of the evening program, Mrs. Chrystyna Balko, a CEO of the Ukrainian National Federal Credit Union addressed the delegates of the Sobor, reflecting upon the work of the Credit Union, stating that it remains the only religious Ukrainian credit Union among others, which reaches out to various parishes of the Church to assist them in their vital ministry. The hierarchs, clergy and the faithful of the Church offered their sincerest words of gratitude to the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian National Federal Credit Union for their generosity, expressed in sponsoring the official banquet of the Sobor.
Following breakfast and the official opening of the working session of the Sobor, Bishop Daniel delivered his address to the delegates of the 19th Regular Sobor, in which he said: “Just over three years ago I had the privilege of standing in front of you, in this Cultural center at the 18th Regular Sobor of the Church addressing you as a newly elected bishop of our Holy Church. I look at you today, and cannot simply believe that it has been thee years since my election to the episcopacy and just over two years since consecration. It is with the same sense of humility that I look at you today and offer my greetings to this holy gathering as well some words of reflection, as we consider the ministry of our Church in this 21st century… When people talk about the future of the Church in the USA in general terms, the usual issues are prominent in the discussion – ministry, lay people involvement, membership, finances, the role of the Church in education, vocations etc. However, the most important issue lies much deeper. The challenge that faces us, to put it simply, is the question of continuing to believe in God in the world of the twenty-first century with all its uncertainties. That is the fundamental issue for us as followers of Christ. We are faced with a situation which might be summed up as “secularized existence” Many persons live as though God did not exist and place themselves outside the problem of faith versus non-belief, since God has, as it were, disappeared from their existential horizon…
The complexity of modern life is both a challenge and an opportunity to recognize God’s presence. Even committed Christians live most of their lives in circumstances which have never before been touched by the Gospel. No Christian before our time has been involved in multi-national companies, the Internet, the advances of technology, growing globalization, Facebook and Tweeter, etc; none of these have existed in the same way before or at all just 25-30 years ago.
As you know, our parishes are being engaged in the process of QUESTIONING THEMSELVES — how we are to grow the Church in response to the movement of the Holy Spirit at a time with unique challenges. While I am thoroughly convinced that in the long run we will have the number of priests that God wants us to have, we clearly know that our day calls for real and active engagement of the laity, and not because of fewer priests. But because, our Faith is not only a set of beliefs; it is also a set of tools which have the power to transform us, to challenge us, to make the ordinary activity or an event – an extraordinary experience…
The issues that we need to address together are not just about reaching out beyond ourselves; they also include matters within the parish. The obvious examples are youth ministry – that is ministry by youth as well as for youth – baptism preparation and so on. Part of the enrichment of parish life will be not only to undertake new challenges for the new century but also to value and to enhance all the many things that are already part of the life of the parish but are often not appreciated as such. It is particularly important that we recognize that the life of families – their struggles and their joys, their anxieties and their celebrations – are a vital part of the life of every parish as are all the efforts of every parishioner to live their faith. God is present in every aspect of life…
I have one thing I want all of you to come away with. It is this: that we have a sacred obligation to prepare our youth and new members to receive the power of God. If we teach our children to do their homework but not to pray, we are only preparing them for misery. Good grades cannot save you from a tormented conscience. You cannot prepare a catechumen just by getting him to memorize dogmas. You must help him to be healed from the wounds of sin.
We ourselves must live out the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We must beg God to purify us through confession and ascetic practices that bring saving humility. Only then can we be a parent, a brother or sister, or even a friend. We must begin now to practice what we preach: mercy and love, peace and joy. I expect all of you, at all times, to work hard and be dedicated to your parishes. The same way we are working in this 19th Regular Sobor. We need to help each other to commit ourselves in building part of the path toward the Kingdom of God…”
The balance of the plenary sessions of this day was devoted to the presentation and acceptance of the Sobor Committee reports. The day concluded with the approval of the amendments to the Constitution of the UOC of the USA, which will be printed in the upcoming issue of the Ukrainian Orthodox Word and the presentation of scholarships of Lewytskyj Scholarship Fund to the seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary. Mrs. Luba Lewytska, a daughter of Protoprebyter Volodymyr Lewtyslyj presented the scholarships to seminarians Subdeacons Vasyl Pasakas, Andriy Matlak and Vasyl Dovgan. The three seminarians, following the official ceremony expressed their gratitude to the Scholarship Fund committee for the honor.
The evening concluded with the Vespers service at the Three Holy Hierarchs Chapel of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary. At the end of the prayer service, Rev. Fr. Anthony Perkins, pastor of Holy Archangel Michael Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Woonsocket, RI offered a brief reflection, calling upon the faithful of the Church to live their Faith in the world that challenges us spiritually and morally.