/ Church in Ukraine / Orthodox Churches in Ukraine:
June 23-27, 2001    
Church in Ukraine

A Survey of Christianity in 21st Century Ukraine
Orthodox Churches in Ukraine
The Catholic Churches of Ukraine
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the Underground
A Brief History of Christianity in Ukraine
Ukrainian Religious Heroes
Roman Catholic beatifications (June 26, 2001): Short biographies
Greek Catholic beatifications (June 27, 2001): Short biographies
Twentieth Century Leaders of the UGCC
List of Bishops of the UGCC
The Byzantine Rite
Charitable institutions of UGCC
Monastic orders and religious congregations of the UGCC
Sanctuaries of UGCC
Structure of UGCC
Catholic Educational Institutions in Ukraine

Orthodox Churches in Ukraine

NEW SITE: Up-to-date information is now maintained at the Religious Information Service of Ukraine website at www.risu.org.ua.


The Orthodox Churches in Ukraine trace their history back to the beginning of Christianity in Ukraine in 988, when St. Volodymyr the Great accepted the Byzantine-Slavic rite of Christianity for his people. The disputes of recent history have separated these groups, but they share a common background and similar (Byzantine-Slavic) theological and liturgical traditions.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) has:

  • 9049 communities
  • 122 monasteries
  • 3519 monks and nuns
  • 7509 priests
  • 7755 churches
  • 840 churches are being built

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate is the former Ukrainian exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). In January 1990 it received its new name. Later that year it received "self-governance," though it is still canonically subject to the Moscow Patriarchate. The local council of the UOC-MP requested to receive canonical autocephaly after Ukraine became independent in 1991. The request was not granted by the council of hierarchs of the ROC. As a result, the head of the UOC-MP, Metropolitan Filaret (Denysenko) was deprived of his status.

The great majority of bishops of the UOC-MP eventually repudiated their signatures in support of autocephaly. In May 1992 they elected, Volodymyr (Sabodan), Metropolitan of Rostov and Novocherkassiy, as new head of the Church. He is still its head, with the title of Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) has:

  • 2781 communities
  • 22 monasteries
  • 113 monks and nuns
  • 2182 priests
  • 1825 churches
  • 217 churches are being built

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate was created in June 1992 by Metropolitan Filaret (who had been removed from the direction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate) and his supporters from a part of the episcopate of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. This was encouraged by some of the civil authorities, members of parliament and various nationalist political parties. Since October 1995 Filaret has been the head of this Church, with the title Patriarch of Kyiv and all Rus-Ukraine.

The UOC-KP does not presently have official recognition from Orthodox Churches in other countries and so is considered "uncanonical."

The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) has:

  • 1015 communities
  • 1 monastery
  • 4 monks and nuns
  • 628 priests
  • 697 churches
  • 101 churches are being built

There were autocephalous movements in Ukrainian Orthodox in the 19th and early 20th Centuries but the Soviets under Stalin liquidated them. New communities of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church began to spring up in August 1989 in western Ukraine. Volodymyr Yarema, a Russian Orthodox pastor in Lviv, left the Russian Orthodox jurisdiction. He and Russian Orthodox Bishop Ivan Bondarchuk joined the movement for autocephaly and parishes began to join the Autocephalous Church.

The spread of autocephaly in Ukraine was part of a dispute with the Moscow Patriarchate. But it was also in the context of a fierce competition with the revival of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. And it was most certainly with the support of Orthodox Churches of the Ukrainian diaspora in North America.

One of the hierarchs of these diaspora Churches, Mstyslav (Skrypnyk), was proclaimed head of the UAOC, and in June 1990 at a council of this Church he was elected Patriarch of Kyiv and all Rus-Ukraine. Dymytriy (Yarema) was his successor from 1993 to 2000 and was then succeeded by Metropolitan Mefodiy (Kudryakov) of Ternopil, currently the head of the UAOC in Ukraine.

Although the UAOC does not currently have official recognition from Orthodox Churches in other countries, it has made steps towards achieving canonical status. For this reason, the name of Metropolitan Kostyantyn, head of the canonically recognized Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA (under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople) is commemorated in the churches of the UAOC.

Other Orthodox Communities

In addition other Orthodox communities are active in Ukraine: the Old Believers (55 communities), the Free Russian Orthodox Church (outside of Russia), the Russian True Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, Greek communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Russian communities which are directly under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and a few other independent Orthodox communities. These groups do not have general national influence and ambitions, inasmuch as they are composed of communities of national minorities or are numerically small communities which arose as a result of schisms in the Russian Orthodox Church.

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