Religious Dimensions of the War Against Ukraine

Date(s) - March 17, 2022
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Categories No Categories

Each panelist will each give a short presentation followed by a panel discussion and an extended Q and A with audience members.

About this event

Religion is an underlying dimension to the erupting conflict in Ukraine. Though often ignored or misunderstood, it is a longstanding element in relationships between Russia and Ukraine and often a pretence for political and military actions. Join our four distinguished speakers to explore the religious dimensions of this war, including the historical and current contexts.

Drawing from a variety of Christian perspectives, including Orthodox, Ukrainian Catholic, and Protestant Christianity, and their own academic research and personal experience, each panelist will each give a short presentation followed by a panel discussion and an extended Q and A with audience members.

This discussion will be of interest to all those looking to learn more about historical and religious factors contributing to the current crisis, evolving church and state relations with Ukraine and Russia, and the weaponization of Christianity in conflict.


Heather Coleman is Professor of Russian History and Director of the Research Program on Religion and Culture at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta. She is the author of Russian Baptists and Spiritual Revolution, 1905-1929, and editor of Sacred Stories: Religion and Spirituality in Modern Russia, and Orthodox Christianity in Imperial Russia: A Source Book on Lived Religion (all published by Indiana University Press). Her current research focuses on the history of the Orthodox clergy in nineteenth-century Kyiv province.

Nicholas Denysenko serves as Emil and Elfriede Jochum Professor and Chair and concurrently as associate professor of theology. He received his graduate degrees from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (M.Div., 2000) and The Catholic University of America (Ph.D., 2008). Denysenko writes and speaks on diverse topics, and specializes in liturgical theology and Orthodox Christianity. In his research, Denysenko explores the intersections of liturgical history, ritual studies, and pastoral theology, and writes for an ecumenical audience. His book The People’s Faith: The Liturgy of the Faithful in Orthodoxy was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2018, as was his book, The Orthodox Church in Ukraine: A Century of Separation, published by Northern Illinois University Press in Fall 2018. Denysenko is an ordained deacon of the Orthodox Church in America since 2003.

Paul L. Gavrilyuk holds the Aquinas Chair in Theology and Philosophy at the Theology Department of the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Born in Kiev, Ukraine, he studied physics at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in Russia (1988-1993). He was one of the first scholars from the former Soviet Union to come to the United States to pursue graduate work in theology. In 2001, he received his doctorate in patristics from the Graduate Program in Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

An Orthodox theologian and historian, Dr. Gavrilyuk specializes in Greek patristics and modern Orthodox theology. His areas of interest also include philosophy of religion, liturgical studies, and ecumenical studies. Translated into ten languages, his publications include the following books: The Suffering of the Impassible God: The Dialectics of Patristic Thought (Oxford, 2004); The Spiritual Senses: Perceiving God in Western Christianity, co-edited with Sarah Coakley (Cambridge, 2012), and Georges Florovsky and the Russian Religious Renaissance (Oxford, 2013). He is also the founding president of the International Orthodox Theological Association (IOTA), an organization that includes 150 scholars from 30 countries.

Fr. Myroslaw Tataryn is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Religious Studies at St. Jerome’s University and former Chair of the Department of Religious Studies and Director of the Centre for Responsible Citizenship. He holds the ThD from St. Michael’s College in Toronto and is the pastor of Holy Transfiguration parish in Kitchener, Ontario since 2014, an Eastern Catholic community (Ukrainian).

His research interests include Eastern Christian theology in the contemporary context; Eastern Christians in Canada; Trinitarian theology and disability; Kenosis and a re-visioning of ecclesiology. In his research he asks questions about the relationship between religious experience and culture; the applicability of Eastern Christian thought to the contemporary, Western context; and as a father of children with disabilities, he critically investigates the Christian tradition with a sensitivity to questions posed by disability studies. He is the author, with his wife Maria Truchan-Tataryn, of Discovering Trinity in Disability: A Theology for Embracing Difference (Novalis, 2013). The U.S. edition was published by Orbis Press, 2014 and was a 2014 Catholic Press Association Book Award Winner.


John W. Martens, is Professor of Theology and Director of the Centre for Christian Engagement at St. Mark’s College.

This lecture will be offered live on Zoom.

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