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In 1990, four Ukrainian families left the former USSR and immigrated to Lexington, KY, which became their new home. They were the very first Ukrainian Pentecostal refugees to this area, hoping that in this new land, they would experience religious freedom and would give their children an opportunity to have a better life than they did. Having no knowledge of the English language or the American culture, life was a struggle and was quite lonely at times. Any “taste” of Ukraine brought them much joy. So when in 1991, two more families, the Kourdelchuks and Gavrilyuks, arrived in Lexington, they were very excited to fellowship with people from their culture.
Because the assembly of six families was small and minimal English was spoken, they decided to gather at each other’s homes every Sunday for fellowship and Bible study; this was the start of what would later be known as the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church. During that time, there was no pastor or deacon amongst them to lead their services, so every month, they would visit other Slavic churches for communion, traveling to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and even Georgia. With the help of Ukrainian ministers from these more established churches and larger congregations, this small Ukrainian Pentecostal Church was becoming stronger spiritually.
In 1994, after several years of instruction, teaching, and spiritual work, Brother Nick Gavrilyuk was chosen by the congregation for ministry, and in 1995, he was ordained as deacon. During this period, about five more families moved to Kentucky from other states, and one family moved from Ukraine. With the arrival of more people, and especially with the children growing up and becoming members of the church through their decision to give their lives to Christ and become baptized, the growing congregation was in great need of a pastor. In 1997, Brother Nick Gavrilyuk was ordained as pastor. In 1999, the congregation became officially registered as the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church. Around the same time, the Christian Mission Ebenezer was formed and had its office based at the church. Their mission was to help people in need in Ukraine and evangelize throughout the entire Ukrainian nation.
In 1999, there were approximately 50 church members, but many more families were moving from other states to Lexington and the surrounding area, and more young people were committing their lives to Christ, getting baptized, and joining the church. The church was growing very rapidly and was in need of its own building. Until that time, the congregation had rented various church buildings from local Lexington churches. In 2001, a church building was purchased in Versailles, Kentucky, and after two years of renovations, the congregation was finally able to gather at the new location.
In 2003, Pastor Gavrilyuk decided to move back to Ukraine with his family. Brother Yaroslav Boyechko, who had been involved in ministry at a church in New Jersey prior to his moving to Kentucky, was chosen by the congregation to lead the church and became an ordained pastor. At that time, the church had a little over 100 members. By 2007, the number grew to over 300 members, which once again, made the church elders consider purchasing a larger space for the congregation’s gatherings. In 2008, the church purchased a five-acre plot of land with a small, existing church building, planning to build a new, larger church building. A construction team made up mostly of church members was assembled. Brother Victor Kunitsa, a skilled builder, was put in charge of the building project. The construction of the new church building was successfully completed in 2010.
Since then, the church has been continually growing and now has almost five hundred members and at least that many children; visitors also come on a regular basis. The Gospel is preached at every service, and the Holy Spirit is speaking to the hearts of people, bringing them to repentance and continuing the work and ministry of Christ on Earth, as is written in Matthew 28:19-20 – "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
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