Rev. Dr. Constantine Kostiw

May 22, 1917 – July 5th, 2009

Rev. Dr. Constantine Kostiw was born on May 22nd, 1917 in Rivne, Ukraine to very devoted Christian parents, Justin and Helena.  He was the youngest of six siblings.  His sisters were Justina, Pasha, Maria, Nadia and Vera.

From a very early age, Rev. Dr. Kostiw was a gifted student.  He excelled in the academic world loving to read and write.  As a young teenager he was baptized at his local church and became a very active member within his church community.  He completed his secondary school studies in 1936, but given his passion for learning, and despite economic and political hardships, he managed to pursue post secondary studies in Germany at the Erlangen University and later at the Ukrainian Free University where he was an exemplary student and obtained doctorate degrees in philosophy and law.

On June 11, 1947, he immigrated to Canada first landing in Halifax and then moving on to Vernon, B.C. and eventually to Winnipeg in 1948.  Although he left his home country of Ukraine at a young age, his love for his people, Ukrainian culture and language remained very close to his heart.

As a devout Christian, he had much optimism and good faith in what the future had in store for him.  He was very active in church ministry during his early years in Canada.

Luck was very much on his side when he met his beautiful and loving bride to be, Olena in 1948, and on February 27th, 1948 they were married.  In 1949, Oksana came along, and Rev. Kostiw took a position in Saskatoon as a professor of Ukrainian Studies and Bible Studies at the Ukrainian Bible Institute.  On June 29th, 1951, he was formally ordained as a Minister at the Ukrainian Baptist Church in Saskatoon.

Eventually, after a brief stop in Jersey City, New Jersey, Dr. Kostiw decided to relocate his family, (and his growing library of books), to Toronto and this started a new chapter in his life.  He became a very active and productive member of the Ukrainian Baptist Church community in Toronto.

As a dedicated clergyman, he touched many lives and very often served as biographer and historian for his beloved Ukrainian Baptist community.

In addition to his spiritual work, Rev. Dr. Kostiw entered the printing business and it was during this time that he published numerous books and articles.  In 1950 he authored a book entitled “Metropolitan Ilarion Ohienko, Translator of the Bible”, followed by “The Reformation” in 1956, “Constitutional Acts on UNR and the Hetman Government” in 1964, a Ukrainian Biblical reference book in 1971, a religious sociological study entitled “Books of the Existence of Ukrainian People” in 1980 and a “Ukrainian Dictionary” (of Biblical figures, tribes, and people) in 1982.  Rev. Dr. Kostiw was also the author of the “Constitution of the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Convention of Canada” in 1962 which remains in effect today.  It was a busy time, yet three more children came along, Olesia in 1957, Taras in 1958 and Natalka in 1961.

During this period Rev. Dr. Kostiw continued to be an influential member in the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist church community in Toronto and other neighboring churches in Ontario.  He served as president of the Ukrainian Canadian Eastern Baptist Convention.  His life touched many people in spiritual ways.

One of his proudest accomplishments was becoming a full member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in Canada, an organization reserved for only the highest accomplished scholars.  His discipline for work and study was truly remarkable.  He was rewarded for his lifetime of accomplishments and contributions with an honorary doctorate degree in Doctor of Ministry from the Kiev Seminary in 2000.

His ability to live on his own for ten years after losing his sight is a testimony to his profound spirituality and a most disciplined lifestyle.  He never complained even once about his misfortune.

He was an intellectual man of generosity and integrity.  Humble until the very end, he deeply believed in the Lord and his unwavering and unconditional faith was always the cornerstone and guiding light in his long and productive life.  He left this world on a quiet and peaceful note.  He was never afraid of death and in fact, was quite ready to meet his Maker.  He was at peace.  We celebrate the life of an intellectual giant, a loving Father, a cherished Dido, Uncle and a spiritual role model to us all.  Rev. Dr. Kostiw will live in our hearts forever.

© Ukrainian Baptist Heritage Centre
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