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Ukraine Celebrates Sixteen Years of Independence

August, 2007

Slava Isusu Khrystu! - Dear Brothers & Sisters:

On August 24, 2007, Ukraine observes the sixteenth anniversary of its independence in the post-soviet era. On that day in 1991, and in the months prior and subsequent to it, the hopes and dreams of many centuries were made a reality. Ukraine was finally a free and independent republic among the world's nations, on a level not known since the days of Kyivan-Rus.

For those of us in the Diaspora, the events of the breakdown of the Soviet Union were the realization of the hopes of decades of prayer and waiting. Since the advent of atheistic communism, the Ukrainian Church in our Motherland experienced intense persecution and virtual annihilation. It was isolated from its members living in other places. We sympathized greatly with the suffering of our people in Ukraine, while trying fervently to keep our spiritual, cultural and religious heritage alive in the free world.

With the return of religious liberty to Ukraine, it was with inexpressible joy, that we once again could freely exchange and interact with our people and look to our church there for spiritual leadership. While the process of building a free republic has certainly not been an easy one for the Ukrainian people, our prayers are constant, that despite present obstacles and barriers left over from the past, Ukraine follows well, the road it has taken and continues to walk towards its rightful place among the world's nations.

Our Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church is one which embraces people of faith worldwide. Whether or not one is of ethnic Ukrainian descent, all of us share in the rich history, culture and unique traditions that characterize our church today. Ukraine has much to offer the world community. The wealth of its long history, the natural resources and the beauty it possesses, including its coveted geographic location are qualities that should help bring Ukraine to the forefront of global life.

Importantly, these include the contribution Ukraine can make to worldwide ecclesiastical life. I speak here not only about the beauty of our church as such, but because of its pattern of self-determination, faithfulness to its own historical and rightful place among the other churches and unique ability to use its distinctive character to be a bridge in the midst of diversity. This last quality could well one of the most important contributions the Ukrainian Church can offer to ecclesial dialog in the years to come.

On behalf the clergy and faithful of the Metropolia, I congratulate His Beatitude, MEFODIY, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Worldwide Father and Head of our UAOC, on this special day. We thank him for his archpastoral leadership and the inspiration he continues to give to our people all over the world. The active role of our Predstoyatel is in truth, the visible source of the unity of our church, in every corner of the globe. Many years, Blazhenishij Vladyko!

We congratulate also all of the God-loving bishops, clergy and faithful of our church in Ukraine. We pray for the Ukrainian government and all those involved in forming the future of Ukraine. May the Lord direct their steps for the good of the people and the advancement of the values of freedom and justice for all.

Glory to Ukraine! Ukraina Slava!

Faithfully in Christ,

His Eminence, Metropolitan MYKHAYIL (Javchak-Champion)
Archbishop of New York
Metropolitan of All America
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church