Perhaps our readers have some questions concerning Reformed churches that GELCU has a fraternal relationship with: Church of Christ the Savior and the God’s Covenant Church in Rivne, Holy Trinity Church in Ivano-Frankivsk, and St. Andrew’s Church in Pidhaichiki of Ivano-Frankivsk region.

Geography of CREC churches in communion with GELCU

The first contact with them was established with them in 2016 when ministers of GELCU congregations were illegitimately put out of Church fellowship by former Bishop Sergey Maschewski and were searching for opportunities for common Christian witness and fellowship with other Christians in Ukraine. The spiritual journey of congregations of Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC) brought them from reformed Baptist congregations of Calvinist theology to classic Reformed theology when they eventually entered international structures of this union – a movement of liturgical regeneration within their tradition. The dialogue demonstrated affinity of theological positions of Lutheran and Reformed churches and allowed to establish de-facto altar and pulpit fellowship based on the text of the Leuenberg Agreement.

In 2018, with the election of Pavlo Shvarts as the head of GELCU, we began to search the integration format for GELCU and CREC congregations. Every year we held joint conferences for ministers, where different formats of our association were discussed, allowing each of us to keep our identity and traditions. Because of these discussions, such a format was found.

Joint conference of ministers of GELCU and CREC (Ivano-Frankivsk, August 2020)

In 2022 GELCU planned to hold a Synod meeting, where four Reformed congregations would have been admitted to GELCU, functions of which would include dealing with spirituals, diplomatic, and educational questions. At the same time, the Bishop of GELCU, as a legal entity representing the interests of Lutheran congregations, would be involved only in administrative issues, while Reformed congregations would continue their membership in the international structures of CREC.

Reformed ministers Igor Lishchinsky (left) and Alexander Orlov-Koshchavka Jr. (center) visited the GELCU congregation in Alexandria with worship service and humanitarian aid

Unfortunately, because of the war, the Synod had to be postponed. This, however, does not stop us from implementing the church communion practically. In addition, indeed, the war has strengthened existing connections. Congregations of GELCU and CREC have launched joint humanitarian action in the west of Ukraine, where were evacuated members of Lutheran congregations in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Thanks to the help of our partners, GELCU supports ministers and charity work of Reformed churches.

We hope that after the war comes to its end, the existing communion will be implemented formally.