25 years of interdenominational cooperation for the benefit of Ukraine
The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) was established in 1996 as an interdenominational institution, aiming to unite the efforts of various denominations to focus on the spiritual revival of Ukraine, coordination of interconfessional dialogue in Ukraine and abroad, participation in a legislative process on church-state issues, and the implementation of comprehensive charitable actions.
The Council basic principles
The Council of Churches operates on the basis of equality and equity of all members, respecting internal guidelines and traditions of all present religious organizations in Ukraine, operating within the law of Ukraine. The UCCRO is independent of Ukrainian government, political parties, and other non-governmental organizations.
As of June 2021, the UCCRO includes 15 churches and religious organizations and 1 interchurch organization: including Orthodox, Greek and Roman Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical churches as well as Jewish and Muslim religious unions. Thus, the Council of Churches represents more than 90% of all religious organizations in Ukraine.
According to the UCCRO’s Statute, council members hold a chairman position in turn. The rotation of chairmanship takes place every six months. It helps to distribute responsibility between all members to coordinate the activity of the UCCRO, its Secretariat, and professional commissions.
The UCCRO’s Secretariat, consisting of each member’s representatives, was created in 2005 to prepare the actual issues prior to presenting them for consideration of Council’s members. Also, the UCCRO established several special commissions: on social service, media cooperation, and restitution of religious property.
In July 2019, the UCCRO passed the state registration as a public association (non-governmental organization).
The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations holds regular meetings with the President of Ukraine, the Prime Minister, the leaders of governmental bodies and parliamentary groups, and representatives of the judiciary. These meetings shape decisions and the further development of church-state relations to serve Ukrainian society the best way especially in the areas of moral health, establishment of justice, charity, and urgent social challenges.
In 2008, the UCCRO signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and initiated cooperation with the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science. In 2009, the special public interconfessional councils for dialogue and cooperation between the Government and the UCCRO were formed under the mentioned ministries, as well under the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, and later – under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. Also, the Council of Churches develops relations with local municipalities.
The Institute for Religious Freedom (IRF) has been providing analytical and organizational support to the UCCRO activities for many years.
The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations operates at the international level also. In 2001, the UCCRO had a meeting with Pope John Paul II during his visit to Ukraine. In 2009, the Council of Churches has visited Jerusalem and held meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Religious Affairs of the State of Israel. In 2011, the UCCRO organized a meeting of religious leaders along with ambassadors of numerous embassies located in Ukraine, including representatives of the United States, France, Canada, Israel, the Great Britain, Germany, Poland, and the Vatican. Afterwards, meetings with foreign diplomats happened regularly in various formats.
In 2012, the UCCRO delegation held meetings with members of the Canadian Parliament along with the Prime Minister of Canada. In the U.S.A. they also met with governmental officials as well as community and religious leaders.
In 2013, members of the UCCRO made two visits to Brussels, stressing Ukrainian society’s European choice while defending the Ukrainian traditional view on family and marriage also, based on religious moral values. In 2014, the UCCRO delegation held several meetings in Oslo, Norway, with religious leaders of Russia trying to convey the true view of the events in Ukraine and prevent further escalation of the Russian military aggression. In 2015, the UCCRO met with a delegation from the World Council of Churches in Kyiv.
In 2016, the UCCRO delegation visited the Senate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to meet members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, and presented Ukraine for local journalists and public figures. The delegation met with the Ambassador of the Netherlands for Human Rights and the Dutch Foreign Ministry. That year, the Council of Churches held meetings in Kyiv with the Vatican Secretary of State and Swedish religious figures. In 2018, a meeting was held with representatives of the Polish Ecumenical Council.
During the second visit to Israel in 2019, the UCCRO delegation met with the President of Israel, the Speaker of the Knesset, the Minister of Jerusalem and National Heritage, the Minister of Environment of the State of Israel. Also, the Ukrainian religious figures visited the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and met the IDF Chief Military Rabbi.
As a result of the long-term cooperation between the UCCRO and the Ukrainian Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, there were several high-level round tables in Kyiv and international events. With the support of the Foundation, in 2013 the UCCRO delegation held a series of meetings with high-level officials and civil activists in Brussels. Also, the Ukrainian religious figures made official visits in 2015 to Berlin (Germany), and in 2017 to Strasbourg (France), including meetings in the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and the European Court of Human Rights.
UCCRO as an authoritative actor of civil society
The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations is the largest and one of the most prestigious non-governmental institution in Ukraine today, operating by the principles of self-governing and self-supporting. The UCCRO is free from governmental, political, and commercial influence.
The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations takes an active participation in the civic life of the country, responding to public challenges with statements, peacebuilding initiatives, and other efforts. As an example, the significant role of the UCCRO in protecting the rights of citizens to peaceful protest during the EuroMaidan (Revolution of Dignity in 2013-2014).
Since the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the UCCRO has been actively involved in protecting the rights of believers and religious communities suffering from religious persecution in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and Crimea. The Council of Churches has also been consistent in its efforts to free the politically imprisoned Ukrainian citizens from Russian captivity, including those arbitrarily detained and tortured by the occupying authorities in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
Since 2017, at the UCCRO initiative, Children and Families Rights Protection March has been held in Kyiv in June each year. COVID-19 pandemic restrictions introduced to Ukraine made this peaceful assembly has been held in the format of a telethon in 2020-2021.
The UCCRO Commission on Social Service has developed a Strategy for the Participation of Churches and Religious Organizations in Peacebuilding titled Ukraine is Our Common Home. The Strategy has been actively implemented at the local level in parishes of various denominations since 2017.
The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations gives special attention to and calls for the establishing of social justice and an independent judiciary, religious freedom and other fundamental human rights, protection of public morality, counteracting against corruption, providing a social protection for the vulnerable and poor, promoting the fair and transparent elections, and raising environmental awareness of the population. The UCCRO’s public activity becomes even more effective due to the cooperation with local municipalities and other civil society institutions at both the national and local levels.
of the Ukrainian Council of Churches
and Religious Organizations
1. Orthodox Church of Ukraine
Epiphaniy (Dumenko), Primate of the OCU, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine
2.Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Onuphry (Berezovsky), Primate of the UOC, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine
3. Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Father and Head of the UGCC, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Galych
4. Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine
Vitalii Kryvytskyi, Bishop, Ordinary of Kyiv-Zhytomyr
5. All-Ukrainian Union of the Churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists
Valerii Antoniuk, Head of the Union
6. Ukrainian Pentecostal Church
Mykhailo Panochko, Senior Bishop of the UPC
7. Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ukraine
Stanislav Nosov, President of the SDA Church in Ukraine
8. Ukrainian Christian Evangelical Church
Leonid Padun, Senior Bishop of the UCEC
9. Ukrainian Evangelical Church
Oleksandr Zaitsev, Senior Bishop of the UEC
10. Ukrainian Lutheran Church
Vyacheslav Horpynchuk, Bishop of the ULC
11. Trans-Carpathian Reformed Church
Sándor Zán Fábián, Bishop of the TCRC
12. German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine
Pavlo Shvarts, Bishop of the GELCU
13. Ukrainian Diocese of Armenian Apostolic Church
Marcos Hovhannisyan, Bishop of the Ukrainian Diocese of AAC
14. Union of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine
Yaakov Dov Bleich, Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine, President of the UJROU
15. Religious Administration of Muslims of Ukraine
Akhmed Tamim, Supreme Mufti of Ukraine, Head of the RAMU
16. Ukrainian Bible Society
Hryhorii Komendant, President of UBS