Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) is one of the three major Orthodox Churches in Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. Close to ten percent of the Christian population claim to be members of the UAOC. The other Churches are the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Russophile
Russophilia is the love of Russia and/or Russians. The term is used in two basic contexts: in international politics and in cultural context. "Russophilia" and "Russophilic" are the terms used to denote pro-Russian sentiments, usually in politics and literature...

 Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UROC (MP)
Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is an autonomous Church of Eastern Orthodoxy in Ukraine, under the ecclesiastic jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate...

). The UAOC in its contemporary form, has its origins in the Sobor of 1921 in Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, shortly after Ukraine's newly found independence
Ukrainian People's Republic
The Ukrainian People's Republic or Ukrainian National Republic was a republic that was declared in part of the territory of modern Ukraine after the Russian Revolution, eventually headed by Symon Petliura.-Revolutionary Wave:...


With the creation of a new nation, many Ukrainians felt the need for an indigenous autocephalous
Autocephaly , in hierarchical Christian churches and especially Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, is the status of a hierarchical church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop...

 Orthodox Church free of Russian influence. Although there have been three different "resurrections" of the UAOC in Ukraine, each following a period of political, cultural and religious persecution, all UAOC bishops in the last two have had a direct line of succession to the first one.


The Kievan Metropolia was a product of the baptism of the Kievan Rus in the time of Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great
Vladimir I of Kiev
Vladimir Sviatoslavich the Great Old East Slavic: Володимѣръ Свѧтославичь Old Norse as Valdamarr Sveinaldsson, , Vladimir, , Volodymyr, was a grand prince of Kiev, ruler of Kievan Rus' in .Vladimir's father was the prince Sviatoslav of the Rurik dynasty...

 (988 CE). Missionaries were sent from Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 to instruct the people in the Byzantine-Orthodox faith. Monastic life flourished, including in the famous Kiev Monastery of the Caves
Kiev Pechersk Lavra
Kiev Pechersk Lavra or Kyiv Pechersk Lavra , also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, is a historic Orthodox Christian monastery which gave its name to one of the city districts where it is located in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine....

, through the efforts of St. Anthony of Kiev, known as the father of Russian monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...


The sacking of Kiev itself in December 1240 during the Mongol Invasion
Mongol invasion of Rus
The Mongol invasion of Russia was resumed on 21 December 1237 marking the resumption of the Mongol invasion of Europe, during which the Mongols attacked the medieval powers of Poland, Kiev, Hungary, and miscellaneous tribes of less organized peoples...

 led to the ultimate collapse of the Rus' state. For many of its residents, the brutality of Mongol attacks sealed the fate of many choosing to find safe haven in the North East. In 1299, the Kievan Metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

 Chair was moved to Vladimir
Vladimir is a city and the administrative center of Vladimir Oblast, Russia, located on the Klyazma River, to the east of Moscow along the M7 motorway. Population:...

 by Metropolitan Maximus
Maximus, Metropolitan of all Rus
Maximus was the Metropolitan of Kiev who moved the see of Russian metropolitans to Vladimir-on-Kliazma. In spite of the move, the metropolitans were officially known as "Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus'" until the establishment of autocephaly under Jonah in 1448.Maximus was of Greek origin...

, keeping the titile of Kiev. As Vladimir-Suzdal, and later the Grand Duchy of Moscow
Grand Duchy of Moscow
The Grand Duchy of Moscow or Grand Principality of Moscow, also known in English simply as Muscovy , was a late medieval Rus' principality centered on Moscow, and the predecessor state of the early modern Tsardom of Russia....

 continued to grow unhindered, the Orthodox religious link between them and Kiev remained strong. The fall of Constantinople in 1453, allowed the once daughter church of North East, to become autocephalous, with Kiev remaining part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. From that moment on, the Churches of Ukraine and Russia went their own separate ways. The latter became central in the growing Russian Tsardom, attaining patriarchate in 1589, whilst the former became subject to repression and Polonization efforts, particularly after the Union of Brest
Union of Brest
Union of Brest or Union of Brześć refers to the 1595-1596 decision of the Church of Rus', the "Metropolia of Kiev-Halych and all Rus'", to break relations with the Patriarch of Constantinople and place themselves under the Pope of Rome. At the time, this church included most Ukrainians and...

 in 1596. Eventually the presecution of Orthodox Ukrainians, led to a massive rebellion under Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Bohdan Zynoviy Mykhailovych Khmelnytsky was a hetman of the Zaporozhian Cossack Hetmanate of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth . He led an uprising against the Commonwealth and its magnates which resulted in the creation of a Cossack state...

, and united the Ukrainian Hetmanate with the Russian Tsardom, and in 1686, the Kievan Metropolia came under the Moscow Patriarchate. Ukrainian clergy, for their Greek training, held key roles in the Russian Orthodox Church until the end of the 18th century.

In the wake of the breakup of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 some national groups sought autonomy or autocephaly from Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church was proclaimed under the Ukrainian National Republic in 1917 and survived in Soviet Ukraine until the early 1930s.

In 1921 an All-Ukrainian Sobor
A sobor is a council of bishops together with other clerical and lay delegates representing the church as a whole in matters of importance...

 (Synod) was called in Kiev, the capital of the newly-independent Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was declared independent from the Moscow Patriarchate (MP). The Sobor delegates chose Metropolitan Vasyl Lypkivsky as head of the church. The 1921 Sobor has become known as the "first resurrection" of the UAOC.

Metropolitans Vasyl Lypkivsky and Mykola Boretsky were eminent UAOC preachers. From the 1930s sermons in Soviet Ukraine were delivered mostly in Russian (except in the Western Ukrainian regions annexed in 1944). Until 1944 the Orthodox theological seminaries in Western Ukraine taught homiletics; sermons were published in periodicals and separately in books such as Archbishop Aleksy Gromadsky.

A few years later in 1924, Gregory VII, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, issued a tomos establishing the Kievan Metropolia as an autocephalous entity. The responsibility of establishing a new Synod of Bishops was given to the Metropolitan-Archbishop of Warsaw, Dionisiy Valedynsky.

Ukrainian independence was short-lived in this period, and eventually the USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 came into being. The Soviets introduced an atheistic regime, though initially the church was allowed to function, as a tool against their more adverse Russian Orthodox Church, though from 1930s the UAOC was too persecuted, and eventually disbanded on Soviet Ukraine.

During World War II, when Ukraine was a battleground between the German and Soviet Armies, Orthodox Ukrainians enjoyed somewhat increased freedom under German occupation. In May 1942, with the blessing of Metropolitan Dionisiy, more than a dozen bishops were consecrated in St. Andrew Cathedral, Kiev, in fulfillment of the 1924 tomos of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Finally, it seemed that ecclesiastical order could be established for the UAOC. This time is referred to as the "second resurrection" of the church. However, history would make it a short-lived reality.

On October 8, 1942 Archbishop Nikanor Abrymovych and Bishop Mstyslav Skrypnyk of the UAOC and Metropolitan Oleksiy Hromadsky of the Ukrainian Autonomous Orthodox Church entered into an Act of Union at the Pochayiv Lavra
Pochayiv Lavra
Holy Dormition Pochayiv Lavra has for centuries been the foremost spiritual and ideological centre of various Orthodox denominations in Western Ukraine. The monastery tops a 60-metre hill in the town of Pochayiv, Ternopil Oblast, 18 km southwest of Kremenets and 50 km north of Ternopil...

 uniting these two church hierarchies. Pro-Russian hierarchs of the Autonomous Church convinced Metropolitan Oleksiy to withdraw his signature. Metropolitan Oleksiy was allegedly executed in Volhynia on May 7, 1943 by members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

The Russian Orthodox Church regained its general monopoly after World War II in the Ukrainian SSR. Most of the other churches were liquidated, as the Soviet government only recognized the Moscow Patriarchate (MP). The MP was revived at the time as the only legitimate church in most of the Soviet Union. Many accused it of being a puppet of the Communist Party. Any UAOC hierarchs or clergy who remained in Ukraine and refused to join the Russian Church were executed or sent to concentration camps. A few years later the same thing happened to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church , Ukrainska Hreko-Katolytska Tserkva), is the largest Eastern Rite Catholic sui juris particular church in full communion with the Holy See, and is directly subject to the Pope...

 in Western Ukraine, in Galicia and Transcarpathia
Carpathian Ruthenia
Carpathian Ruthenia is a region in Eastern Europe, mostly located in western Ukraine's Zakarpattia Oblast , with smaller parts in easternmost Slovakia , Poland's Lemkovyna and Romanian Maramureş.It is...

. Several UAOC bishops and priests were able to escape to the West.

Contemporary Situation

The church regained state recognition in 1990, which is known as the "third resurrection" of the UAOC. Initially it was governed from abroad by Patriarch Mstyslav (Skrypnyk). Subsequent to his death in 1993, he was succeeded by Patriarch Volodomyr (Romaniuk)
Patriarch Volodomyr (Romaniuk)
Patriarch Volodymyr was the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchy....

. Patriarch Volodymyr would, during his time as patriarch, separate from the UAOC to found the UOC-KP, together with Metropolitan (now Patriarch) Filaret (Denysenko). Those not willing to follow this change continued the UAOC with a new Patriarch, Dymytry (Yarema).

Meanwhile in the Diaspora, some bishops of the UAOC in the USA, decided in 1996, to place themselves and their parishes under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, thereby relinquishing the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church and forming instead, an eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne.

In 1996, Metropolitan Stephan (Petrovich), committed to preserving the autocephalous nature of the Church and who had been active in assisting in its revitalization following the Soviet period in both the West and Ukraine, received formal authorization from Senior Hierarchs of the UAOC in Ukraine to maintain autocephaly in the West, especially in the United States. While in Ukraine Stephan Petrovich was formally authorized to lead the UAOC as a self-governing entity in North & South America. Metropolitan Stephan retired in June 2004.

On October 16, 2000, the Church Sobor in Ukraine elected Metropolitan Mefodiy (Kudryakov)
Metropolitan Mefodiy (Kudryakov)
Metropolitan Mefodiy in the city of Kopychentsi, Husyatyn region in the district of the Ternopol region.A graduate of the Moscow Theological Academy in Zagorsk....

 of Ternopil
Ternopil , is a city in western Ukraine, located on the banks of the Seret River. Ternopil is one of the major cities of Western Ukraine and the historical region of Galicia...

 to lead the church. As father and head of the UAOC worldwide, he is Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Rus-Ukraine. Since his elevation, he has worked towards a more global visibility for the church, including a pastoral visit to the United States in 2006 and travels to Western Europe. He has fostered continued positive relations with the Ukrainian government and other religious communities.
The UAOC, with over 3 million members, is not officially recognized by other Churches due to pressures from the Russian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate. It has, however, been invited and does participate in Orthodox synods and conferences. The Ecumenical Patriarch has maintained direct dialogue with the Church, but remains very sensitive to the Moscow Patriarchate's opposition to any independent Churches in Ukraine.
In 2005, Metropolitan Mefodiy pursued a legal suit which successfully restored the patriarchal chancery offices and the Church of Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki
Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki
Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki was a Christian martyr, who lived in the early 4th century.During the Middle Ages, he came to be revered as one of the most important Orthodox military saints, often paired with Saint George...

 to the UAOC. Located adjacent to the famous St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery
St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery
St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery is a functioning monastery in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The monastery is located on the right bank of the Dnieper River on the edge of a bluff northeast of the Saint Sophia Cathedral...

, the premises had been in the use of a schismatic group.

Under the personal supervision of Metropolitan Mefodiy, the Ternopil Orthodox Theological Academy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was renovated and its course of studies completely updated to conform to contemporary academic standards. On October 18, 2008, the first diplomas of the newly-accredited theological school were awarded to qualified graduates in a ceremony in the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Ternopil. Presiding at the commencement ceremony, at the invitation of Metropolitan Mefodiy, was the UAOC Metropolitan of New York and America, Mykhayil
Metropolitan Mykhayil
Metropolitan Mykhayil Javchak Champion is the Metropolitan Bishop of New York and America for the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.-References:* - Official website of UAOC in America...


The Patriarchal Cathedral of the UAOC is the historic Church of St. Andrew the First-Called in Kiev
St Andrew's Church of Kiev
The Saint Andrew's Church is a major Baroque church located in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The church was constructed in 1747–1754, to a design by the Imperial Russian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli...

. It was built between 1747–1754 and was designed by the famous architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli
Bartolomeo Rastrelli
Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli was an Italian architect naturalized Russian. He developed an easily recognizable style of Late Baroque, both sumptuous and majestic...

. Although used for regular liturgical services of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the edifice had previously been a part of the historical park "Sofia-Kiev." The Ukrainian government returned the church to the legal possession of the UAOC on May 21, 2008.

Geographically the church currently has a stronger presence in Western Ukrainian provinces with a smaller representation elsewhere. Previous to 1995, there were more parishes abroad in the Ukrainian diaspora
Ukrainian diaspora
The Ukrainian diaspora is the global community of ethnic Ukrainians, especially those who maintain some kind of connection, even if ephemeral, to the land of their ancestors and maintain their feeling of Ukrainian national identity within their own local community.-1608 To 1880:After the loss...

 communities of Canada and the United States. However, many of these parishes now form the separate churches, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada is an Eastern Orthodox Church in Canada, primarily serving Ukrainian Canadians. Its former name was the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of Canada ...

 and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA is a jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the United States. It consists of three eparchies , ruled by two diocesan bishops, including about 85 active parishes and missions. The Church's current primate is Metropolitan Constantine...

, both of which are eparchies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople , part of the wider Orthodox Church, is one of the fourteen autocephalous churches within the communion of Orthodox Christianity...

 and not in communion with the UAOC.

The UAOC-Kiev Patriarchate has maintained a presence outside of Ukraine. In 2006, Metropolitan Myfodiy appointed Bishop Paul Peter (Jesep), who also is a New York attorney, as United States representative to handle communications and government relations.

Administratively independent of the Kiev Patriarchate, the UAOC diaspora has eparchies in North and South America, Western Europe and elsewhere. Metropolitan Mykhayil of New York heads the UAOC in the Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

. Significant growth of the UAOC has taken place in recent times in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

, where the Eparchy is based in Manizales, Colombia
Manizales is a city and municipality in central Colombia, capital of Department of Caldas and part of the region of Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis, near the Nevado del Ruiz volcano....

. There are also parishes of the church in Canberra, Australia, Palermo, Italy, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
San Felipe de Puerto Plata
San Felipe de Puerto Plata, often referred to as simply Puerto Plata, is the capital of the Dominican province Puerto Plata.The city is famous for resorts such as Playa Dorada and Costa Dorada, located east of San Felipe de Puerto Plata. There are a total of 100,000 hotel beds in the city.The only...

 and elsewhere.


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