On 6 February 2024, members of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations (UCCRO) met with a delegation of the Church of England. With the blessing of Metropolitan Meletiy of Chernivtsi and Bukovyna, Head of the Department for External Church Relations (DECR) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Serhiy Mykhailovych Bortnyk, an official of the department and a professor at the Kyiv Theological Academy (KTA), took part in the meeting. On the same day, at the initiative of the UOC DECR, lecturers of the Kyiv Theological Academy met with representatives of the Church of England, the UOC Information and Education Department reports with reference to vzcz.church.ua and kdais.kiev.ua.

The delegation of the Church of England, headed by Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, included Revd Canon Dr Jeremy Morris; Dr Charles Reed, the Church of England’s International Affairs Adviser; Revd Philip Jackson, Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity in New York; John Bingham, the Church of England’s Head of News; Francis Martin, a journalist of Church Times; and other accompanying persons.

At the meeting of the members of the UCCRO with the delegation of the Church of England, S. M. Bortnyk gave a speech in which he drew attention to the danger of copying the model of church-state relations in Russia in the conditions of a democratic Ukraine, as it would lead to the restriction of the existence of some denominations and even to a possible ban on their legal functioning.

S. M. Bortnyk also mentioned the historical figure of Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury (XI-XII centuries), who was twice forced to leave England for a rather long period of time due to pressure from the state authorities of the time, who tried to influence appointments to church positions. In this regard, according to the professor, it is important for the Ukrainian authorities today not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to realise that church communities in Ukraine, the largest of which is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, have a unique spiritual importance and should enjoy autonomy in their internal life. In this case, they will be able to serve the public good to a greater extent, especially in the situation of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Participating in the meeting of lecturers of the KTA with the delegation of the Church of England were: Archimandrite Mytrofan (Bozhko), Academic Secretary; Professor Serhiy Mykhailovych Bortnyk; Archimandrite Panteleimon (Melnyk), Head of the Theology and Biblical Studies Department; lecturers Hieromonk Nestor (Chaika) and Hieromonk Raphail (Mosunov); and Hierodeacon Nykodym (Shevchuk), Head of the KTA Chancellery.

During this meeting, topical issues pertaining to the life of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary in the contemporary circumstances were discussed. Attention was focused on the mission of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the Kyiv Theological Schools in particular, in the times of Russian aggression, aid to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and support to Ukrainian society.

On the website, photos: https://news.church.ua/2024/02/07/a-decr-official-and-lecturers-of-the-kyiv-theological-academy-have-met-with-archbishop-justin-welby-of-canterbury-and-a-delegation-of-the-church-of-england/?lang=en#2024-02-07.

A DECR official and lecturers of the Kyiv Theological Academy have met with Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and a delegation of the Church of England – Ukrainian Orthodox Church