Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ukrainian Baptists to ‘invade’ North Port

The Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Convention in the USA will hold its 70th annual conference during Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-6, in North Port.

The theme of the conference is “Strong Family — Strong Church.” The host is the Ukrainian Baptist Church in North Port, 3950 Wall Lane (off Salford Boulevard), whose pastor is Vitaliy Bernatskiy.

This is the first time that the UEBC is holding its annual conference in Florida.

The conference will begin Sept. 4 with a service from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the church, and will include readings, sermons by Pastor Bernatskiy and Pastor Stan Gruntkovski of Ukraine, and singing (solos and choir). The moderator will be Anatoly Moshkovsky of Trinity United Methodist Church, 4285 Wesley Lane, North Port.

Sept. 5 will consist of prayer and a business session at the church starting at 9 a.m. (elections of commissions, reports of officers, etc., as well as prayers, singing of hymns and seminar, “Wisdom of Parenthood,” moderated by Pavlo Demyanyk of Vancouver, Canada). Another seminar will take place at 2:30 p.m., moderated by Dr. Yaroslav Pyzh, president of L’viv Theological Seminary, Ukraine.

An evening youth program (from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) will take place at the North Port Performing Arts Center at North Port High School, 6400 W. Price Blvd. In addition to Victor Pilipchuk, pastor of a Cleveland, Ohio, church and secretary of the UEBC, who will moderate the session, there will be singing (choir and soloists) and two sermons by pastor Sergio Savchuk in English, and pastor Stan Gruntkovski in Ukrainian. Sept. 6 at the Performing Arts Center, there will be a solemn divine service at 10 a.m., including the sermon “Fathers’ Authority” by Vasyl Rudnytsky, pastor of the church New Hope in Charlotte, and singing of hymns. It will end with the readings of the conference’s resolutions, other reports and a concluding sermon by Pastor Gruntkovski.

All are invited to attend all sessions of the conference at the church and at the Performing Arts Center. The singing of the United Choir of Philadelphia, Pa., area churches and the music group of Cleveland, as well as soloists, are close to professional level.
The observance of the 24th anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine’s independence (Aug. 24, 1991) by the Southwest Florida Ukrainian American community, included special “Molebens” (novena-like services) in the local Ukrainian churches last Sunday, and the traditional raising of American and Ukrainian national flags Monday morning in front of North Port City Hall by veterans of the local Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans.

The raising of the flags was accompanied by the playing and singing of the American and Ukrainian national anthems, with all veterans rendering hand salutes. The invocation by the Rt. Rev. John Fatenko of North Port, pastor of the Southwest Florida Ukrainian Orthodox congregation, was followed by the reading of the North Port City Commission proclamation designating Aug. 24 “Ukrainian Independence Commemoration Day in North Port” by Commissioner Linda Yates. The Rev.

Vasyl Petriv, pastor of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Rev. Michael Jakubovich, pastor-emeritus of the Ukrainian Baptist Church, and retired Col.

Roman Rondiak, USA, post commander of UAV Post 40, spoke briefly.

Then, the attendees, more numerous than in all previous years and most attired in traditional embroidered shirts, blouses and dresses, sang a historic patriotic song in Ukrainian.

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
By Atanas Kobryn

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

40th anniversary of ‘Oseredok,’ part II

As envisioned by pioneers, the “Oseredok” became the center of the Ukrainian American community of Southwest Florida and it continues proudly in its role to this day. Many civic, cultural and entertainment activities have taken place there over the years, including fundraising bazaars, concerts of world-renowned performers, lectures and dances, just to mention some. As mentioned previously, Branch 56 of “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (Union of Ukrainian Ladies) and Post 40 of the Ukrainian American Veterans have their offices and hold their meetings there. Other organizations, including the Coordinating Committee of the Ukrainian American Clubs and Organizations, currently headed by Roma Guran of Venice, hold their meetings there also. The leaders and members of the Oseredok felt very strongly that the North Port community needed a church, which historically is the mainstay of Ukrainian civic and spiritual life. The initial group of pioneers was not large enough to build two churches to accommodate the two major groups of the faithful, Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It was decided to build one church as part of the Oseredok’s complex at 4100 S.

Biscayne Drive, named St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Church, to serve both Greek Catholics and Orthodox. The historic idea was blessed by two metropolitans, Mstyslav Skrypnyk of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Myroslav Lubachivsky of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox priests did the actual blessing of the building, and served the liturgies and “molebens” (special prayer services) for a long time.

Due to an influx of more permanent settlers in our area, the church building became too small to adequately accommodate the worshipers, and in the early 1990s, the Ukrainian Greek Catholics built their own church at the corner of Biscayne Drive and West Price Boulevard.

The first presidents of the executive board of St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Religious and Cultural Center was Volodymyr Riznyk, retired entrepreneur from New York state, who resided with his wife Paulina in the Warm Mineral Springs community.

Canadian Senator Paul Yuzyk, who visited Warm Mineral Springs Day Spa quite frequently due to his wife Maria’s ailments, was elected the Oseredok’s vice president and public relations officer. It should be noted that Riznyk and Yuzyk were natives of the United States and Canada, respectively; neither ever visited their ancestral country of Ukraine, and both were active in the Ukrainian American and Ukrainian Canadian communities’ organizations throughout their lives.

Riznyk was succeeded by Roman Shramenko of Venice, and Shramenko, by Dr. Wolodymyr Korol of Warm Mineral Springs. The current president is professor Victor Lisnyczyj of North Port.


 To commemorate the 24th anniversary of the restoration of Ukraine’s independence (Aug. 24, 1991), molebens services will take place at both St.

Andrew’s and St. Mary’s churches after the divine liturgies on Aug. 23.

At 8 a.m. Aug. 24 at City Hall, there will be the raising of the American and Ukrainian national flags by our veterans and a reading of the proclamation honoring Ukraine’s independence by the mayor of North Port. All (except the veterans) are asked to come wearing their traditional embroidered shirts and blouses.

Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians
by Atanas Kobryn