Reconciliation Association of Christian Churches Established in Odesa
On 1 November, in Odesa, the establishment of the Reconciliation Association of Christian Churches of Odesa was announced.
The establishment of the association was initiated by Bishop Uland Schpalinger of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Ukraine, Ordinary of the Odesa-Simferopol Eparchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine, Bishop Bronislav Bernatskyi, and Exarch of Odesa and Crimea of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Bishop Vasyl (Ivasiuk), the press service of the Odesa-Simferopol Eparchy of the Roman Catholic Church reported.
According to the assistant of Bishop Shpalinger, pastor Andrii Hamburg, the association is to become the ecumenical platform for the cooperation of the churches of Odesa. “The bishops who founded the association have cooperated with each other for a long time. Therefore, it is not surprising that they initiated the establishment of the association. The association is open to other churches. We view the dogmatic differences between churches as specificities of denominations. The participants of the association have a natural right not to share the dogmatic views of other churches. At the same time, they respect those churches and accept the fact that they also lead people to the salvation in Christ in their own, specific way,” said Pastor Hamburg.
In 2003, in Odesa, on an initiative of Bishop Bronislav Bernatskyi, the Spiritual Board of Christian Churches of Odesa and Odesa Region was established. It existed till 2006 when it was self-dismissed. In 2005-2010, the Churches of Odesa participated in the activity of the Coordination Council of the Spiritual-Secular Agreement run by the Odesa City Council. The churches showed dissatisfaction with the work of the council a long time ago as they complained that its activity is only formal. After the election of Oleksii Kostusiev as the mayor of Odesa, the council was not convened any more. Therefore, representatives of the Churches of Odesa independently initiated a number of joint events, in particular, the action “Let us celebrate together” (April 2010). The establishment of the association Reconciliation is to be the next stage in the development of the ecumenical cooperation of the Christians of Odesa. Let us remind that the founding churches as well as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are members of the international ecumenical group “Reconciliation in Europe is the objective of the Churches in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and Germany.”