All illiterate members learn to read and write, the illiterate continue their education …

All illiterate members learn to read and write, the illiterate continue their education …

Since 1933, it has been operating as an independent church organization with its center in Kolomyia.

The union is built on an established Calvinist structure, which in the twentieth century. acquired a developed form and in terms of branching and multilevel (hierarchical), in fact, returned to the medieval church, although the main initial elements of the Calvinist institution – the election of priests, moderation of communities, republican form of government – remained unchanged …

The basic principles of the Calvinist church system were set out in a charter prepared in the early twentieth century. Presbyterian (Calvinist) Church in the Diaspora for distribution in Ukraine. The Church is "governed democratically, that is, by the will of the believing people," and has no "princes, parasites of nuns and monks"; "It is guided by the slogan:" As faith, so people "22.

A member of the church becomes a believer who has received water baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The lowest unit in the Calvinist church structure is the community, whose members "gather to serve God, receive and manage church property, elect officials, hire a priest, and decide how much they can pay." The governors of the community, ie the church elder, are curators, deacons, elders, and priests. Curators take care of the cult building, church property. Deacons are responsible for the religious education of children and educational work in the community.

The elders lead the whole community, its religious and non-religious activities. A priest (pastor) is a minister in the church who delivers sermons and performs rites. "Once an ordained man is a senior for life, the ecclesiastical court has removed him … In all the judiciaries of the church, the priest and the elder are equal in authority, and every member of the parish has the same right as everyone else to be elected elder. "

Officials and individual lay people (the most respected believers) make up the church council, which is the highest authority in the community. She runs the church, oversees prayer meetings, Sunday school, choir, and clubs, oversees missionary work and publishing, convenes meetings on various organizational issues (membership meetings), and "generally represents the parish as a local government, court, and executive. "

The function of the church council is to elect representatives to the presbytery, which includes the elders of one city or district and one elder from each community. The presbyteries are united into a superintendent. However, the highest body for all churches in Calvinism is the General Council (Synod). It is convened annually and consists of ambassadors – representatives of the presbytery, elected from among the leaders and elders.

"Thus, the Presbyterian Church is a republican form of government through representatives." 25. The Council considers (accepts or rejects) the decisions of individual presbyteries, and is also the highest judicial body to which any believer who disagrees with the decision of his ecclesiastical authority may appeal. At the council, departments are formed headed by committees responsible for a particular area of ​​religious and non-religious life.

The Union of Ukrainian Evangelical Reformed Communities had a superintendentary headed by Bishop V. Kuziv. It was divided into three presbyteries: Halych (with the center in Lviv), Pokut (in Kolomyia), Volyn (in Rivne). In 1936, the Union had 37 communities registered with local authorities, as well as 31 so-called mission stations. The latter was considered to be an unregistered community that carried out evangelistic work in its locality among believers of other denominations. In these 68 centers in 1936 there were 2,760 adult believers.

Despite the existence of a large number of late Protestant communities in Western Ukraine, Calvinists then had the largest communities. In the mid-1930s, there were 835.2 thousand Protestants in Poland (representing 2.6% of the total population), of whom 6.7 thousand were Ukrainians26, a third of whom were members of the Union of Ukrainian Evangelical Reformed Communities. In addition, there was another group of Ukrainian Reformers (320 people, Pastor V. Fedov), which operated autonomously.

A number of departments have been established in the structure of SUER. For example, a charity that had several inpatient centers – the Ukrainian Evangelical Orphanage, the Educational Fund for Poor Teachers (operated in Kolomyia). In addition, the department conducted various one-time philanthropic actions: it raised funds to help victims of natural disasters, the crippled, the disabled of the First World War and liberation struggles, and others.

Significant work was carried out by the youth department, which in the early 1930s managed to create a youth organization – the Circle of Ukrainian Evangelical Youth. In addition to the actual religious (because the center, in fact, was a mini-model of the Union, the subject and object of work in which there were young people), the group carried out social and cultural practices. His plans for 1932, for example, included “educating the illiterate and the illiterate.

All illiterate members learn to read and write, the illiterate continue their education … They establish libraries, publish newspapers .., seek not only general education, but special education, where they will get the science of handicrafts .., also spread education among the people .., spread the Bible, religious journals, as well as other scientific, economic, cooperative, books or newspapers …, cooperate with the societies "Education", "Native School", "Farmer", "Renaissance" , with cooperatives "27.

There was also a mission department within the Union to manage evangelization and propaganda. In 1927, the Evangelical Missionary Council (with its center in Lviv) was opened under him, which dealt with ecumenism. In general, an important characteristic of the Ukrainian reform movement was the work to unite all existing Ukrainian Protestant communities in the region into a single national church.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the members of the mission council, in addition to Calvinists (church workers – Z. Bychynsky, P. Yaremko, I. Vynnychuk and lay activists – lawyer R. Morozovych, Professor A. Gusakivsky), were Lutherans (pastors T. Yarchuk, V. Demchyshyn, I. Pishchuk, J. Kravchuk), as well as evangelical Baptists (pastors S. Bilynsky, O. Olyshko, G. Urban). D. Garasevich, a Pentecostal activist from Volyn, repeatedly stated his plans to join the council in letters to P. Krat28.

The Reformed magazine Vira i Nauka allowed representatives of other Protestant movements to publish on their pages, which contained their own information, articles, and appeals to readers in special sections. As for the discussion of narrative ideas the principles of a possible unification of Protestants, it was held in the columns of almost all their publications of that period in Western Ukraine.

According to O. Dombrovsky, the leadership of the Union of Ukrainian Evangelical Reformed Communities in ecumenical activities was based on the grounds that "Reformed Evangelicals, Evangelical Christians, Baptists and Christians of the Evangelical Pentecostal faith became closer in the Protestant world that is, in the ideological and dogmatic sense ”29.

Considering themselves a branch of the only Protestant tree, the leaders of these currents at the same time had another serious common platform in Western Ukraine. This is the task of Ukrainianization of churches. So, for example, the Calvinists did not seek an alliance with all the Baptists and Pentecostals, but only with those who converted to Ukrainian and built national associations.

This is how they justify their cooperation with the Baptists: “… Ukrainian Evangelical Baptists … took a historic step, in fact, separated from the Muscovite Baptists and created a truly Ukrainian Baptist trend … This is a huge historical step , because it will be an example. for Ukrainian Baptists not only in Greater Ukraine but also in Canada and the United States of America ”30.

The national factor was so important for the leaders of the Union that they did not rule out the possibility of cooperation with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). "… we will note with great pleasure in the achievements of Ukrainian church life in 1927 the great progress of preparatory work for the Ukrainianization of the Orthodox Churches in Volhynia … and for the liberation of our brothers … from the dead tsarism … our Union must come to an agreement with the autocephalous people ”31. To this end, V. Kuziv in 1929 went to Kyiv for talks with the then head of the UAOC V. Lypynsky.

However, as in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Calvinist allied plans ultimately failed. This, despite the extremely limited time (1927-1939) for such activities, was caused by long-standing interfaith misunderstandings in Ukraine.

The best results were achieved by the reform movement in the religious-educational field, which was conducted by the school department of the Union. Under his tutelage in the mid-1930s there were 20 Sunday schools (which had an elementary level) with 360 students.

Ukrainian reformers have been active in improving the secondary education system. In particular, the Ukrainian Evangelical School named after M. Hrushevsky in Kolomyia and the Evangelical Gymnasium at the community in Lviv.

In 1939, the Reformers announced the program of the Evangelical People’s University for Ukrainian youth, which was scheduled to open on September 1. However, due to known historical circumstances, this was not done either. Familiarity with the program, published in the journal "Faith and Science", testifies to its professional level.

But, first of all, let’s focus on the statute of the future university, reminiscent of the statutes of Protestant schools that existed in the Commonwealth in the XVI-XVII centuries. It stated, for example: “The People’s University should have its own building of appropriate size, where it would be possible to place a bursa, a kitchen, a dining room, a room and lecture halls. At university it is absolutely necessary to have a piece of the field (2-3 hectares) to carry out an exemplary garden and a garden.

The curriculum is divided into two courses: boys ‘and girls’ …. Not only evangelical youth, but also young people of other Christian denominations – girls over 16, boys over 18 … Pupils must have at least a public school. For successful work to create small groups … For girls’ courses it is necessary to work out a little excellent program. Dedicate a lot of lectures to women’s movement, household, hygiene and aesthetics of the home, as well as raising children.