PRESENTATION BY DAN CIONA, newly elected President of the Ukrainian Evangelical  Baptist Convention of Canada, on  SUNDAY AUGUST 3RD, 1997



            I once complained to a Pastor that the leadership he and the deacons were providing in the Church, was being interfered with by individual members who wanted to change the work into a different direction.

            His answer to me was that you don’t need any titles, like Pastor, Deacon, President or Chairman for leadership.

            Leadership can be provided by anyone, without title or office – these may be quiet mild-mannered people – who quietly go about their service to the Lord.

            Luke 21:2 tells us of the poverty-stricken widow who made a great contribution.  She had great faith!  She had to be concerned that she wouldn’t have money to buy food with tomorrow!  But she, despite this obvious concern, gave away all the money she had.  She didn’t watch to see what other people were giving around her!  If she had watched she wouldn’t have given anything, because all the other people kept back more that they gave.  She didn’t keep back  anything.

            July 13, 1961, was a Historic Day for Ukrainian Evangelicals in Canada.  This was the day that the Canadian Parliament passed The Act to Incorporate the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Convention of Canada.

            Clause 4 of this Act states that one of the objects of the Corporation is to “disseminate the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist faith and doctrine.”

            There were nine men [1 - see below] listed as the original Board of Directors of the new Corporation.  Five of these men have now gone on to Glory.  Three of the four who remain are in attendance here this afternoon. [ Rev. Piatocha, Rev. Tkachuk, & Rev. Skoworodko]

            Thirty-six years after incorporation, the Convention appears to stand at the crossroads.  

            Will it continue to survive?  Should it?  Does it matter?  What has been accomplished?

            We can all have our own individual answers to these questions, but I want to suggest a vision of a need and a future for the Convention.

            We are at the stage in the Ukrainian-Canadian society where some evangelically-minded Christians are writing wills leaving their estates for the preaching of the Gospel in Ukraine.  They want to be confident that the Convention is permanent, that it will long outlast them and the funds they leave will be spent wisely to further God’s kingdom.  The Convention has the reputation and profile to be this permanent entity.  This indicates a need for the Convention.

            There are many English speaking churches who have Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist members.  These members are both a resource and a link to a much bigger opportunity to carry on the dissemination of the Evangelical Baptist faith, primarily in Ukraine.

            These transplanted Ukrainian Canadians may be open, available and resourceful to participate.  We need to allow them to participate and to get their interest.

            For example, my three brothers and I are members of Evangelical Baptist churches in four different communities in Ontario.  Each holds an official position – there are deacons, treasurers, chief ushers, Chairman of the Church Board.  Three of the sons or daughters are pastors or wives of Pastors in additional churches.  This offers a large spider web of contact.

My good friend and best man at my wedding, (I was also his best man), a former Roseau River boy, Walter Kohut, is the Chairman of a large downtown Toronto church.  He maintains his contact with the Ukrainian work.  He is a good example of a resource and an opportunity.

            This leads me to two conclusions:

  • 1.    The original objective of the Convention to disseminate the Evangelical faith did not fail – most of us here are living evidence of its success!
  • 2.     The Churches where we now find ourselves in could be a resource to continue and even expand the work.  We’d have to change our Constitution and methods, but the opportunity is real.

The Convention has been in a holding pattern for quite some time.  Some of this resulted from disagreements.

It may be that our holding pattern still has to continue for some more time, until either the events I described herein come to pass, or other completely opposite events take place.

Our responsibility is to rest in the Lord until such time.  It is the Lord’s work and He will direct it in spite of us.

So what has the great faith of one poverty-stricken widow have to do with our Convention?

Just this – don’t wait for your Pastor, your President or your leadership to carry out some important or significant project.

Some of you may personally have a vision, an idea or a small project that you haven’t carried out because you may be waiting for confirmation.

Maybe it’s time to move ahead now – you may set some fires under your leadership who happen to hold titles or official positions.

And if this doesn’t set some fires burning under your leadership – try encouraging them.

David Jeremiah wrote a book which states that the greatest successes in history occurred because of a work of encouragement, or an act of confidence.  In his book he states that “nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  Where most see problems, encouragers see potential.  Let’s therefore be encouragers.


Peter's Note -Dan Ciona and his wife, Nell, have been serving as Directors of the Evangelical Mission To Ukraine [EMTU] since 2004.

The original nine Board of Directors were:

  1. Zachar Rechun-Panko, clergyman, Toronto, ON
  2. Michael Podworniak, linotype operator, Winnipeg, MB
  3. Peter Kindrat, clergyman, Winnipeg, MB
  4. Dmytro Marychuk, clergyman, Winnipeg, MB
  5. Luke Pidhorecky, butcher, Windsor, MB
  6. Alexander Piatocha, clergyman, Edmonton, AB
  7. Jacob Krestinski, clergyman, Vernon, BC
  8. John Tkachuk, clergyman, Saskatoon, SK
  9. Stephen Skoworodko, clergyman, Hyas, SK 

Rev. Dmytro Marychuk [1915-2009], one of the four that Dan referred to, went to be with His Lord and Saviour on March 11, 2009.


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