The Council of European Churches has welcomed the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine as a full member, completing the process required by its statutes. The President of the Council, His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, in his letter to Metropolitan Yevstratiy of Bila Tserkva, expressed his joy at the above development. “It is our pleasure to welcome you and embrace you with Christian love,” he noted.
“In a spirit of solidarity we welcome the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” said the Secretary General of the Council of European Churches Dr. Jørgen Skov Sørensen.
For his part, Metropolitan Yevstratiy of Bila Tserkva, as a representative of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine, stated that “for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, it is very important to join the most respected and active ecumenical community in Europe, the Council of European Churches ».
Here is the relevant announcement, in English:
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) has welcomed the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) as its full member, completing a process required by the CEC constitution. CEC President Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain conveyed delight in his letter to Metropolitan Yevstratiy of Bila Tservka, saying “It is our joy to welcome you and embrace you in Christian love”.
He quoted Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity”.
The OCU made the request to become a CEC Member Church in 2022 by submitting an official application to CEC former president Rev. Christian Krieger. The application received a nod from the CEC Governing Board earlier this year, steering the procedure ahead.
“It is in the spirit of solidarity that we welcome the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” said CEC General Secretary Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen. “Such a step not only manifests commitment of the European churches in realising peace in Ukraine, but also the significance of joining hands with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in Christ, so they may lead us in our common vocation for just peace”.
Sørensen went on to say, “The legacy of CEC is to promote peace and reconciliation. It is our prayer that, together with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, we continue to honour this legacy by facilitating the churches to play their crucial role in mediation and conflict prevention”.
Metropolitan Yevstratiy of Bila Tservka, the OCU spokesperson said, “For the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, it is of great importance to join the most respected and active ecumenical community in Europe, CEC. We are open to cooperation, and enrichment with experience, to jointly build a better Europe that is moderate, harmonious and open to learning the truth of the Gospel”.
“The war in Ukraine has shown us how fragile peace is and how important it is to establish human and Christian fellowship,” said CEC former president Rev. Christian Krieger. “I am proud that CEC is the first international body to establish such a strong link with Ukraine, thereby helping to write a European story of this country in this particularly tragic situation”.
Krieger expressed his gratitude to the CEC Member Churches, who supported the admission of the OCU into the ecumenical fellowship. “This is the very moment for us to demonstrate Christian unity so that we can build peace together”.
The joining of the OCU is pertinent for CEC, as the European church fellowship responds to the war in Ukraine through its initiative Pathways to Peace. Through this initiative, CEC engages in dialogue with European Institutions, addressing crucial political concerns, and advocating for the protection of destroyed religious sites in Ukraine.