Interdenominational Christian Mission To Minister to Prisoners

14.09.2001, 15:52
Representatives of 12 Christian denominations met in Kyiv on 29 August 2001 to compose the statutes for a new civic organization, the Ukrainian Interdenominational Christian Mission “Spiritual and Benevolent Care in Penal Institutions.” There had been a previous arrangement between the state and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) regarding prison ministry, but the ministry has been made interdenominational to expand its scope.

Two years ago an agreement was signed by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate and the state’s Department of Penal Sentences regarding their work together in penitentiaries. In practically all penal colonies and prisons of Ukraine chapels were built or other places were designated where the clergy of the UOC-MP could celebrate religious services and visit with prisoners. According to a poll conducted by the Department’s social service division, 90% of the people serving prison terms described themselves as members of the Orthodox Church. However, there are also Greek and Roman Catholic and Protestant prisoners in Ukraine’s penal institutions. Therefore the decision was made to create an Interdenominational Christian Mission in Ukraine which would coordinate various efforts in this area, plan programs of common activity and prepare legal proposals for legislators regarding the cooperation of church and state in prison ministry. At the meeting held in Kyiv on 29 August, Archbishop Augustine of Lviv and Galicia (UOC-MP) was unanimously elected president of the mission.