The Summit of the Alliance of Christian Professionals: “Whatever you do, do it as if you were serving the Lord!”
Politicians, public figures, representatives of Churches, and young activists of public and Christian organizations became the guests of the Alliance. It is worth noting that the activities of the Alliance of Christian Professionals were blessed by the Heads of all traditional Christian Churches of Ukraine - UOC, UOC-KP, UAOC, UGCC and RCC and the leaders of the largest Protestant Churches, EBС and CEF. However, the leadership presence of the Ukrainian Churches at the Summit was insufficient.
All in all, more than a hundred representatives of various organizations, professions and denominations participated in the Summit. The common theme was the need for change and witnessing as Christians through various professions and vocations - small steps that eventually lead to profound transformations. Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps became a historical inspiration for the activists of the Alliance.
Representatives of various denominations attended the Summit to help young Christians “make their way through the mountains”. Among the attendees were such recognized moral authorities as UCU vice-rector Myroslav Marynovych, ex-head of the UGCC Lubomyr (Husar), economist and philanthropist Bohdan Hawrylyshyn, and politicians, including People’s Deputy of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.
Myroslav Marynovych urged others to be afraid of difficulties and make sacrifices necessary for Christians to achieve something truly significant. “This is how the world is built - one cannot create something new without a sacrifice. ...Let those incapable of solidarity, who fear being deceived and prefer not to love, who fear disappointment and choose not to trust, move aside. Go, live in your “houses on edge”, but don’t be surprised when evil eventually finds you there too. Because evil that is not resisted pervades all... Thus, I invite those who understand to join us: to be in solidarity is not to become poor but rich... Only a nation whose members support each other in solidarity can be moral... Let us start small. Let this community be a small evangelical mustard seed,” said the former political prisoner and dissident.
According to him, the conduct of Christians in modern society should differ from that of the general public. “A Christian should be immediately apparent, as they were in the Roman Empire, where Christians carried themselves differently. For instance, they did not make sacrifices to pagan gods. Today, everyone makes sacrifices to modern gods - power, money, and often I don’t see the difference between Christians and non-Christians,” Myroslav Marynovych emphasized.
Through Christian Values to Europe
Honorary guests of the Summit, His Beatitude Lubomyr (Husar) and Petro Poroshenko, who spoke in the same section, focused on the issue of values, particularly European ones.
While Petro Poroshenko spoke about the changes that must take place in Ukraine to sign the necessary documents on Associate Membership in the European Union, His Beatitude Lubomyr focused on a more global understanding of Ukraine’s place in Europe.
“I don’t like the fact that the mass media often write Europe “and” Ukraine,” he explained. “We were Europe from the very beginning, as evidenced by history. For example, Prince Yaroslav the Wise was called the “Father-in-Law of Europe”. Having (if I am not mistaken) twelve children, he married them to the sons and daughters of kings and princes of the entire European continent. Yaroslav’s children still felt at home because they were Europeans. This historical fact has a deep meaning for us. Yet, do we have that European spirit nowadays? It would be disingenuous of me to say “yes”. However, it is not our fault. Ukrainians were forcibly separated from Europe. In the same way, there were attempts at separating them from God by force. It had been happening all but simultaneously. Therefore, experiencing certain difficulties today, we must fight for the aforementioned European values to become a part of our daily life.”
Petro Poroshenko admitted that he was surprised to receive an invitation to speak at the Summit. “The title “Professional Christians” is rather binding. While I am proud to consider myself a Christian, I still have ways to be called a professional, and to achieve both is quite a task,” the politician explained.
In his opinion, Ukraine has a long way to go concerning European and Christian values, and it is worth starting with mundane things. “European integration, European and Christian values depend on each of us. We have to create an atmosphere that would allow people to act in a Christian way,” Poroshenko said.
Youth, Initiatives and Changes
Bohdan Hawrylyshyn urged young people not to be too patient. “We can change a lot more than we think. So, let us not be too patient. Moreover, there is nothing we cannot change. Everything that exists in this world exists to be changed. All things in Ukraine exist so that young people can change them,” he said.
He believes Ukraine needs a complete transformation rather than random local reforms, and young people should play a vital role in these reforms. “I believe the country can be transformed, and our youngest generation will do it,” Bohdan Hawrylyshyn emphasized. He also noted that there is lots of work to be done: “It isn’t a 100- or 400-meter run. It is a marathon that has just begun.”
As proof of his words, various initiatives were presented over two days, both entirely secular, such as lobbying for the law against smoking in public places or “Studrespublika” and Christian ones.
Olena Shabunina spoke about the social movement “Spouses' Week”. It is an annual project aiming to make marriage the main topic in the country by uniting the efforts of public organizations, state and private institutions, media and journalists, Christian Churches, businesses and all those who care about this issue.
The famous journalist and public activist Hanna Hopko shared her experience of how she and her like-minded friends overcame the tobacco lobby and talked about the initiative to build a hospital for children with cancer.
Vitalii Shabunin, the Chairman of the Board of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, told how it was possible to stop corrupt tender purchases with the help of the Association of Christian Lawyers.
Ruslan Kukharchuk presented the “All Together!” public movement, an informal association of public organizations and initiatives.
Singer Oksamyta introduced the “Zhyvy” (“Live On”) public movement, which aims to inspire people to treat life as a great gift from God without division into the social component and preaching, to promote a long, happy life and also to talk about eternal life.
Ruslan Malyuta presented the “Ukraine Without Orphans” movement, which has been working on the problem of orphanhood in Ukraine for many years. “We must look into the cause of orphanhood, the lack of love and care in families. Everything may look normal outside, but the child will still feel like an orphan,” said Ruslan. His dream is rather radical as he believes there should be no institutions for orphans in Ukraine, even very nice and comfortable ones. He calls for biblical adoption, where the latter is based on the child’s need to have a family rather than on the parents’ need.
Yulia Solokha spoke about the “For a Sober Ukraine” civic movement, a young initiative that has existed for only two months. The movement’s goal is to reduce harm from alcohol consumption in Ukraine by developing, promoting and influencing the adoption of relevant legislation.
All presented projects showed that there are many different initiatives complementing each other, competing, and sometimes offering different approaches to the same problem. Therefore there is a need for an umbrella organization, which to some extent, is the Alliance of Christian Professionals. However, the support of the official Churches is also necessary.
Yurii Chornomorets defends this notion. “The experience of the Alliance of Christian Professionals shows that a Christian civil society is feasible, that we can change something in this country when Churches act as its leaders. Without the ideological and gracious leadership of the traditional Churches of Ukraine, it’s all very naive, childish and ordinary... After all, today, the Churches need to be in harmony not with the state, but society,” he noted on his page on the social network.
To Be Continued…
“Our main vision for the future is to continue promoting professional Christian communities’ development. And for this, we will develop and implement new projects, for example, “For a Sober Ukraine” or “Fighting Corruption in Public Procurement” - Serhii Gula, a representative of the Association of Christian Lawyers, shared his plans for the future. “The Summit allowed the Associations to get to know each other better, exchange common ideas and start new projects. The Summit performs a unifying role for the Associations, which will allow us to be more effective both in our work for society and God.”
More photos are available on the page of the Alliance of Christian Professionals