Who is in Charge of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States?

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States is one of the largest jurisdictions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate worldwide, boasting multiple parishes and missions throughout North America as well as Western Europe, England and Australia.

Metropolitan John Theodorovich led the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America for years, coming directly from Ukraine Autocephalous Orthodox Church and his appointment was seen as a way to promote unity among various factions within Ukrainian Orthodoxy that had separated from Constantinople.

Metropolitan Mstyslav (Skrypnyk)

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the US was formed in 1918 after several parishes and clergy from different dioceses decided that its jurisdiction should extend to the Ukrainian ethnic community in America. This decision was driven both spiritually and politically; furthermore it sought to maintain Ukraine’s unique ethnic identity while in America.

After Soviet control was assumed in Ukraine in the mid-1920s, tensions within its church emerged between those loyal to Moscow and those opposed to communism. This may have been compounded by economic emigration before World War II and those seeking religious and political freedom after.

During Stalin’s rule, Ukrainian churches suffered severe persecution. Many bishops were murdered while US churches lacked an authoritative patriarch.

After the collapse of Soviet control, Ukrainian Orthodoxy experienced a revival, although not under Moscow Patriarchate. Instead, this revival took place through Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). A group of bishops left ROC in 1989 to establish new UAOC hierarchy under Metropolitan Mstyslav Skrypnyk as its leader.

Priests and bishops disenchanted with the Russian Orthodox church hierarchy favored this move to break from its links to Moscow Patriarchate. Their hope was that by winning autonomy from ROC they would gain more control over Ukrainian parishes and property and therefore be better equipped to defend the rights of Ukrainian people living in Ukraine.

However, in 1991 after UOC-MP bishops made a written appeal to Moscow Patriarchate for support, it became apparent they would likely fall short. Instead, an agreement was quickly reached between Metropolitan Anthony (Masendych) whom Patriarch Mstyslav had elected head of UAOC and who became Patriarch of Kyiv and a quick unity agreement was struck between both groups.

This agreement was later annulled as the ROC leadership granted more independence to its Ukrainian exarchate. By 1990, they had changed its name to Ukrainian Orthodox Church and declared its formal independence and administrative autonomy (though not autocephaly yet). Now this Church remains large and influential throughout Ukraine with membership numbers continuing to expand exponentially and prestige.

Bishop Bohdan (Kalynyk)

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA falls under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It consists of three eparchies (dioceses) with two diocesan bishops each, as well as approximately 105 parishes and missions; its current primate is His Eminence Metropolitan Antony Scharba from Hierapolis.

United States Orthodoxy was officially inaugurated in 1929 when Ukrainian Uniate parishes which had long argued with Rome over property ownership and celibacy merged to form the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America, although they had never been recognized canonically by mainstream Orthodoxy.

As the UOC expanded in numbers and influence, Russian Church sought to unite it under their jurisdiction – creating a division which has proven difficult to overcome.

At that point, only the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in North America could intervene and bring about a resolution – leading to Fr. Andrei (Kuschak) being elected from six of Constantinopolitan Ukrainian parishes as bishop.

He was consecrated on January 28, 1938 in Allentown, Pennsylvania and appointed to lead a number of parishes before eventually becoming involved in several conflicts.

On top of that, his disciplinary record wasn’t always great either: often failing to enforce canons on his clergy and having difficulty conducting ordinations he also struggled to bring American Orthodox people into the church.

One of his biggest mistakes was not providing his bishops with an effective system for allocating priestly responsibilities, leading to much confusion and making their job of recruiting priests in America more challenging.

His unpredictable behavior contributed to the decline of his parishes; at one point he managed 45 parishes across North America as leader of UOC.

On November 1st 1965 at age 87, Bohdan died without leaving any successor bishop behind him. His legacy includes Anna his wife as well as two sons and a daughter – Anna is survived by him as is their family, which includes their two sons and daughter-in-laws.

As membership in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has decreased over recent years, it is essential to note that some clerics who were recently ordained with more liberal understandings of orthodoxy are now helping bring about its revival as traditional Christian church rather than subunit of Moscow Patriarchate. Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun and Metropolitan Myroslav Skrypnyk are two such clerics.

Bishop Epifaniy (Skrypnyk)

The Metropolitan is elected by UOC hierarchs residing in the US. He or she is known by this title.

The Metropolitan is head of both UAOC-USA and UAOC in Diaspora (commonly referred to as UAOC-GB). He also chairs Council of Bishops Beyond Borders of Ukraine which comprises bishops from UOC in USA and UAOC in Diaspora.

As well as his duties as Metropolitan of UAOC-USA and UOC in Diaspora, Metropolitan Petlura serves as Patriarch of Autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine. A priest since 1942, and nephew to Patriarch Petlura.

Born 10 April 1898 in Poltava, Ukraine and becoming a priest at age 22, and later bishop at 27, he served in Western Europe and Canada before moving to Philadelphia as archbishop between 1950-1955.

Before his death in 1993, he served as the most senior leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in North America and was first Patriarch of UOC-USA. He passed away in Grimsby Ontario on 11 June.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, he served as first head of UOC-USA and later first Patriarch of Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. He remained in America until his death.

Over 20 million Ukrainians live abroad and many belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-USA (UOC-USA). Many Ukrainian communities can be found throughout North America hosted by churches affiliated with this organization.

There are also other Ukrainian Orthodox Churches which do not affiliate themselves to either the UAOC in the USA or its Diaspora counterpart, yet are linked with Russian Orthodoxy through common history or tradition. Many of these churches can be found throughout North America (particularly Canada and United States), while some can even be found across Europe and Australia.

Bishop Filaret (Skrypnyk)

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA (UOC-USA), part of Bartholomew I’s Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, is one of the world’s largest autocephalous Orthodox churches; nearly 40 percent of population identified themselves as Ukrainian in a May poll.

In the 1950s, several European hierarchs established the UOC in America again. By mid-1980s, however, many priests from these European churches were replaced by new bishops from Ukraine or Belarus and thus, more closely aligned with its mother church in Kiev.

Metropolitan Filaret was an integral figure in reviving the UOC in America during its revival period during the early 1990s. His leadership proved pivotal.

He became the first UAOC hierarch to become Metropolitan of UOC-USA, and over the next decade many more Ukrainians joined their Church here in America – leading to over 80 parishes being opened across America.

Some parishes were small missions and house chapels, while others became more formalized cathedrals. Over time, this led to some of the world’s most revered Orthodox priests and faithful joining UOC-USA ranks.

Filaret was an integral figure within the Ukrainian Apostolic Orthodox Church (UAOC), playing an influential role in its affairs. Due to this influence, he oversaw the creation of parishes across Russia and Macedonia while also showing strong support for Ukrainian Church in Georgia.

As part of his contributions, he also assisted in the founding of new parishes in Australia, New Zealand and South America. By the late 1980s, the UAOC counted approximately 30 parishes in Western Europe and Great Britain and 22 parishes across Australia and South America.

During this period, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) engaged in an increasingly heated competition with Moscow Patriarchate for jurisdiction over parishes in Ukraine. On average, more people supported the UAOC in western and central regions while more Russified areas supported Patriarchate.

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