As the leading voice for Macedonian human rights in the world, UMD has been an unwavering champion of religious freedom for Macedonians since being founded nearly 18 years ago.
UMD is a member of the informal International Religious Freedom Roundtable and has met with every Canadian and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Issues. UMD leadership has visited nearly every Macedonian Orthodox Church in Australia, Canada, and the United States in outreach efforts.
UMD has sent countless letters to the UN, OSCE, CoE, NATO, and EU leaders about the religious freedom of Macedonians in Albania, Bulgaria, and Greece.
Our 2005 petition that garnered over 88,000 signatures called for Greece to recognize the Macedonian Orthodox Church within its borders.
In 2007, UMD hosted the religious leader of the Macedonian Orthodox community in Greece, Archimandrite Nikodim Tsarknias in Washington, D.C. for a series of meetings with the State Department and Congress, as well as for a talk at Georgetown University.
In 2010, Tsarknias received the UMD Human Rights Award in Canada.
In 2010, UMD President Metodija A. Koloski met with representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul.
In 2011, UMD arranged for the first-ever Macedonian Orthodox divinity service in Washington, D.C. with Very Reverend Father Slobodan Petkovski.
In 2012, UMD hosted Archimandrite Tsarknias in Washington, D.C. for meetings with the first-ever U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, State Department, and the U.S. Congress. Archimandrite Tsarknias is the first clergyman of the Macedonian Orthodox Church to have such a high-level meeting with a U.S. administration official. UMD also brought him to Ottawa for meetings with Canadian officials and members of Parliament.
In the spring of 2013, UMD arranged the first official visit to Washington, D.C. by His Eminence Metropolitan Metodij of the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese. As part of his agenda, Metropolitan Metodij visited the U.S. Congress to meet with long-standing friends of Macedonia and the Macedonian-American community, Congresswoman Candice Miller of Michigan, who founded and chaired the Macedonia Caucus, and Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, a member of the Macedonia Caucus.
In 2013, when Bishop Kiril, one of the pillars of the Macedonian Orthodox Church and our national movement, passed away, UMD arranged through the office of Congresswoman Candice Miller for the U.S. flag to be flown half-mast on the U.S. Capitol Building, and Congresswoman Miller gave recognition to his life in the Congressional Record.
In 2013, UMD spearheaded, through the informal International Religious Freedom Roundtable, a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed by 14 organizations/individuals expressing deep concern about longstanding, serious violations of religious freedom in Greece. The informal group of human rights advocates and religious leaders strongly urged Secretary Kerry to call upon Greece to ratify the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and to actively and in good faith secure religious freedom for all religious minorities in Greece.
In 2015, UMD arranged for the Dean of the Eastern region of the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese Very Reverend Father Branko Postolovski to attend the White House Ethnic Day and say grace in the Macedonian language before 170 participants during the luncheon. Father Branko also attended meetings in the U.S. Congress to discuss issues related to Macedonians.
In 2018, UMD President Metodija A. Koloski paid his first visit to the Macedonian Orthodox Church in Aegean Macedonia to meet with Archimandrite Nikodim Tsarknias and former UMD representative Eugenia Natsoulidou. In an interview for YouTube, Archimandrite Nikodim Tsarknias – the religious leader of Macedonian Orthodox followers in Greece, spoke to UMD about the challenges the community faces and the church St. Zlata Meglenska in S’botsko, Aegean Macedonia (Aridia, Greece today).
UMD has held two fundraisers for the church in Greece raising over $10,000, spearheaded by former UMD Board Member Jim Daikos.
In 2020, UMD’s young leaders’ program, Generation M, submitted a report to the United Nations highlighting the systemic, historic, and ongoing causes and effects of oppression in Greece and Bulgaria, particularly in relation to Macedonian religious freedom.
In 2021, during the first IRF Summit, UMD President Metodija A. Koloski delivered brief remarks during the IRF Roundtable Side Event, calling for the registration of the Macedonian Orthodox Church in Greece and support for the plight of Archimandrite Nikodim Tsarknias who has been jailed, beaten, and ridiculed on public TV.
In August 2021, Michigan’s House Adopted a resolution declaring September as Macedonian American Heritage Month – the first time in the U.S. history – stating that Sterling Heights, Michigan is home to the headquarters of the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese, under the current auspices of His Grace Metropolitan Metodij and Michigan is home to several Macedonian Orthodox Churches, and Orthodox Churches and Monasteries built by Macedonian Americans.
In October 2021, the Congressional Macedonian Caucus introduced H. Res. 741 declaring September as Macedonian American Heritage Month – the first time in U.S. history – stating that Macedonian Americans contributed to the construction of several dozen Macedonian Orthodox Churches throughout the United States as part of the American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese, under current auspices of His Grace Metropolitan Metodi, and have played a major role in other Orthodox Church communities throughout the United States for over a century.
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