NEW YORK – His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kiev and All Ukraine will be honored as the 2019 recipient of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award. The Award will be presented by the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, at the organization’s annual banquet Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019 at the New York Hilton Hotel.
The weekend begins Friday evening, with the Nicholas J. Bouras Award for Extraordinary Archon Stewardship at the annual Award Presentation and Dinner Dance that will recognize the many accomplishments of 2019 Award Recipient Archon John Zavitsanos, Esq. The event will be held at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan.
Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, together with Archon National Commander Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, will present the Athenagoras Human Rights Award to His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kiev and All Ukraine. Metropolitan Epiphanios has been a strong advocate for religious freedom and a key defender of the ecclesiastical and canonical prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Archbishop Elpidophoros has stated that: “His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios has been a staunch defender of the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, even as its prerogatives have been challenged and even rejected outright by some, and as it has been placed under tremendous pressure from others. In Ukraine he has already provided the Solomon-like wisdom that was needed to reunify the Church, return to Eucharistic unity, and establish it as an integral member of the group of autocephalous Orthodox Churches worldwide.”
Metropolitan Epiphanios will officiate at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday October at the Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Cathedral in New York.
A Unification Synod convened in Kiev Ukraine on Saturday December 15, 2018, presided by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France representing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, successfully instituted the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine and elected its first prelate, Metropolitan Epiphanios of Pereiaslav and Belotserkovsky.
Epiphanios is 40 years old and he received the institutive Tomos from His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in January of 2019, becoming one of the fifteen prelates of the Orthodox Church in the world.
He was chosen by secret ballot in the second round after he had obtained the majority in the first round. Metropolitan Mikhail of Volynia and Lutsk reportedly came in second place, and Metropolitan Simeon of Vinnitsa and Bar in third, the latter coming from the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow.
Epiphanios was born on February 3, 1979 in the village of Volkovo, in the Ivanovsk province of the Odessa region, into a family of workers. In 1999 he concluded his studies at the Kiev Theological Seminary, and in 2004 at the theological academy of the Patriarchate. In 2009 he was ordained bishop of Vyshgorod, and in 2013 he became a Metropolitan.
He holds a doctorate in Theology and has studied philosophy in Athens, Greece and he speaks the Greek language fluently. He has visited Mount Athos and other religious sites in Greece.
Soon after the election the Ecumenical Patriarchate issued the following communique: “It is with praise to God, great joy and satisfaction that the Ecumenical Patriarchate announces the successful completion of the work of the Unifying Synod (Sobor) – foundational of the new Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Ukraine – which was convened in Kiev today, December 15th 2018.”
According to the Archon’s website: “The Athenagoras Human Rights Award was established in 1986, is presented annually to a person or organization that has consistently exemplified by action, purpose and dedication concern for the basic rights and religious freedom of all people. It is named in memory of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, who reigned on the Ecumenical Throne from 1948 until his death in 1972. Prior to his election as Ecumenical Patriarch, he was the second Archbishop of North and South America.
Past recipients of the Award have included Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, Mother Teresa, Elie Wiesel, Mikhail Gorbachev, Admiral James Stavridis, Vice President Joe Biden and last year’s recipient, Emilia Kamvisi and Efstratios Valamios, representing the fishermen of Lesbos and the Greek Islands, Fr. Alex and Presbyera Xanthi Karloutos.”