John J. Verigin Jr.
Ed Chernoff Photo
USCC AGM Press Release
February 27, 2009
A sense of history pervaded the recent Annual Convention of the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ (USCC), the largest Doukhobor organization in the world. The USCC AGM took place at the Brilliant Cultural Centre in Castlegar, BC, February 21-22, 2009, with some 50 delegates and over 100 spectators in attendance. Very few of those present had ever witnessed events of such significance to the tens of thousands of people of Doukhobor origin worldwide.
AGM participants solemnly acknowledged the recent passing of John J. Verigin, who had served as the head of the USCC for 70 years. The delegates voted to retire the title of “Honourary Chairman”, which had been designated for the late Mr. Verigin some 50 years ago.
The delegates then unanimously acclaimed John J. Verigin, Jr. as the new head of the USCC organization. This decision was also endorsed by representatives from Doukhobor communities in Krestova, BC, and in Saskatchewan.
In responding, Mr. Verigin stated that, as his father had done before him, he wished to remind the membership that their only true leader was Jesus Christ. “As Doukhobors”, said Mr. Verigin, “we are called to follow His teachings”.
He went on to explain that he had not sought the role to which he was being called, but felt an obligation to respond to the will of the people. He shared his vision of the most important priorities and goals facing the Doukhobor community today: “These define and distinguish us as Doukhobors, and if you agree with me, and if you are willing to walk with me, then I am willing to walk with you, hand in hand, as brothers and sisters.”
J. J. Verigin received his post-secondary education in Canada, Russia and Germany, and in addition to extensive world travel, spent a decade employed as a peace and disarmament advocate with Non-governmental organizations in Ottawa and at the United Nations in New York. Returning to his home town of Grand Forks, BC in 1990, Mr. Verigin was initially employed as a USCC Executive Assistant and Working Group Coordinator, and for the past decade, as USCC Executive Director.
JJ Verigin has also served in an advisory capacity to the Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, and 25 years as President of the Kootenay Region United Nations Association (KRUNA), and has been a member of the Boards of the United Nations Association in Canada, the Canadian Peace Alliance, Selkirk College, and the Council of Doukhobors in Canada. He continues to serve on the Boards of several local and regional organizations, and remains actively involved in various initiatives related to peace and justice, the environment, and humanitarian work, for which he has been recognized on the local, regional, national and international levels.
Mr. Verigin will continue to be employed as USCC Executive Director until the time that the restructuring work of the USCC Centennial Renewal Task Force (RTF) will come up with a new governance model for the organization, including any possible new designation for his role.
Preliminary options presented by the RTF (created in 2008, to mark 100 years of Doukhobor life in BC) were discussed and examined by the AGM delegates, who unanimously approved an ongoing RTF mandate for developing and implementing changes designed to ensure the well-being of the USCC in the 21st century.
Among many other items of business, AGM delegates acclaimed a new and enlarged USCC Executive Committee, consisting of Mike W. Kanigan, Pete P. Relkoff, David Sookaveiff, Marjorie Malloff and Lawrence Tamelin (all of the West Kootenays), and Barry Verigin, Sam Semenoff and Larry Kurnoff (all of Grand Forks). Outgoing Executive Chairman, Fred Bojey (of Castlegar), was thanked for his many years of service.
Continuing a policy initiated several years ago, the Convention delegates recognized some individual USCC members put forward by the membership for their exceptional dedication and voluntary service to the organization. This year’s recipients of this recognition were: Mike and Lillian Semenoff and Mike and Molly Davidoff (all of Castlegar, BC), and Fred and Mary Horkoff and Larry Kimoff (all of Grand Forks, BC).
Fred Arishenkoff (of Castlegar) ably chaired the Convention, with assistance from Colin Markin (also of Castlegar). Vera Kanigan and Marjorie Malloff ably served as secretaries. Three delicious meals were served by the Kootenay USCC Ladies Organization.