Metropolitan Onuphrius of Kiev and All Ukraine has sent the following letter of congratulations to Metropolitan Mitrophan of Luhansk and Alchevsk:
Your Eminence, dear Vladyka!
Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters!
I would like to heartily congratulate you on the seventieth anniversary of the foundation of the Luhansk Diocese. The pages of the history of Orthodoxy in Luhansk date at the sixteenth – seventeenth centuries. In the eighteenth century the territory of today’s Luhansk region was part of the diocese of St. Joasaph of Belgorod (1705-1754). Being a resident of Poltava, the saint passed on the Orthodox faith in your region. His efforts to the benefit of Christ’s Church have produced great fruits. Subsequently, the Hierarch himself was declared a Saint.
Today the Luhansk Diocese experiences hard times. War has come to your home, bringing along destruction and death. All our Church is praying for the restoration of peace in your region, sympathizing and empathizing with you, because the Holy Apostle Paul said: “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). You are a member of our Church, you are our brothers and sisters, you are dear to us, and we are together with you in prayer and in deeds. We know that the Lord does not send a person tests beyond his strength. Moreover, our spirit and faith improve through tests.
In this difficult time, my dear, I would like to remind you of the words, with which our Lord Jesus Christ often addressed His disciples: “Be not afraid!”. When the Apostles were in a ship in the midst of the Sea of Galilee at night, the Lord came to them walking on water and said: “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14:27). Shortly before His salutary suffering, the Lord told His disciples: “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. After His resurrection, the Lord appeared before His disciples who were afraid of the outside enemies, and said: “Peace be unto you!” (Luke 24:36). Therefore today, when the flame of war burns in your home, I would like to remind you and repeat these reassuring words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “Be not afraid! Peace be unto you!” Quiet will definitely follow the storm – it will be the time of creative work, the time of peace and quiet.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! Facing the tests, please preserve the unity between you, stay in obedience to your pastors and, in particular, follow your archpastor – Vladyka Mitrophan – who is one of the most experienced and wisest archpastors of our Church. “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesias 1:2).
I am offering my prayers for your region, its Orthodox faithful, and for the unity with the Holy Church.
I am asking God for His blessing on all of you!
With love in the Lord,
Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.
November 14, 2014
The press office of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.