[Episcopal News Service] As Russia ramps up the latest phase of its attack on Ukraine nearly two months into the unprovoked war, Episcopal congregations are showing their support for Ukraine in a variety of ways, from making Easter eggs at the Ukrainian known as pysanky at raising funds for Episcopal Relief & Development Agencies and others responding to the crisis.
Many congregations have held prayer services and vigils in recent weeks. On April 3, Trinity Episcopal Church in Grand Ledge, Michigan, held a vigil “for peace and for the safety and well-being of the Ukrainian people.” Dozens of people attended. St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wheeling, West Virginia presented “A Concert for Ukraine” on April 5.
Also in West Virginia, Christ Episcopal Church in Bluefield held an interfaith vigil March 27 in a downtown plaza for the Ukrainian people. “The scale of the tragedy is almost unbelievable,” Reverend Lou Hays said in an interview with WVNS-TV.
The Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock, Arkansas, held a special 20-minute bell on April 10 to show solidarity with Ukraine. “I think everyone realizes the terrible thing that’s going on out there and we all want to do something, but as ordinary people we don’t know what to do,” said Julie Keller of the Bell Cathedral’s Ringing Society at KTHV-TV.
Previously in Little Rock, retired General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, spoke at an interfaith service held March 13 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, urging people gathered to pray for the Ukrainians.
“We must raise our voices individually and collectively,” he said, “for humanitarian aid, for wise military and diplomatic policies, for the support of the United Nations and, above all, we must pray for the welfare, well-being and souls of those in the direct line of conflict in Ukraine.
The Episcopal Church has sounded its calls for peace and its prayers for the people of Ukraine since the start of Russia’s war against the country, which it invaded on February 24.
On January 26, the Executive Council passed a resolution that expressed “serious concern about the escalation of tensions and military buildup along the Russian-Ukrainian border.” The House of Bishops issued a statement on March 21 condemning Russia’s aggression against its neighbor, “an independent and sovereign nation that has posed no threat to others beyond its borders.”
House of Bishops condemns war in Ukraine and anti-transgender legislation in first in-person rally since COVID-19 pandemic https://t.co/VBajCHgt9G pic.twitter.com/SUssESwsZ5
— Episcopal News Service (@episcopal_news) March 22, 2022
And Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined other presiding bishops and archbishops of provinces in the Anglican Communion in a March 31 statement that expressed concern over the escalating humanitarian crisis caused by Russia. “We call for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine,” the archbishops and presiding bishops said in the statement from their primate meeting.
Some Episcopal and Episcopalian congregations are reaching out to local Ukrainian communities. When St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in New Hartford, New York, held an April 7 prayer service for the Ukrainian people, attendees included Rev. Michael Bundz of St. Volodymyr’s Great Ukrainian Church in Utica.
The Canterbury House Ministry of the Northern Michigan Diocese at Michigan Technological University in Houghton has connected and offered support to Ukrainian students, some of whom have joined campus protests against Russia’s war.
In the Diocese of Los Angeles, the simple act of hanging the blue and yellow Ukrainian colors outside St. James’s Episcopal Church in Newport Beach prompted an emotional reaction from a Ukrainian woman now living in California. from South.
“It touched me deeply,” Lidiia Zamaraieva told the Los Angeles Times. “I want to come and say thank you to people in the church for supporting Ukraine even though they don’t know Ukrainians.”
Lidiia Zamaraieva focuses her efforts on war relief efforts in her native country. When she saw a church in Newport Beach @StJamesNewport Holding up a banner with the words “Pray for Ukraine”, she brought a cake to the congregation. https://t.co/mMP74wvTfZ
— The Daily Pilot (@TheDailyPilot) April 1, 2022
Other congregations are finding creative ways to show their support. On March 25, St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in College Station, Texas, held a prayer-filled “Yoga for Peace” event for Ukrainian victims, with attendees encouraged to donate to an organization called World Central. Kitchen and its Chefs for Ukraine campaign.
Elementary school students Esmee and Michael Pritchard, a sister-in-law team from Calvary Episcopal Church in Williamsville, New York, set up a booth at the church to sell flags, wristbands and other themed items. Ukraine and raised over $200 to donate to relief efforts.
Other congregations and dioceses have launched their own fundraising and donation campaigns. The Central Gulf Coast Diocese has raised more than $30,000 from church members to donate to Blessings International, which coordinates medicine and medical supplies for Ukrainian families.
St. Elizabeth’s Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey, successfully collected supplies to help Ukrainians displaced by war. “It’s amazing how generous, kind and big-hearted people are,” Lyubov Ferara, a Ukrainian-born St. Elizabeth parishioner, said in a diocesan article. She still has extended family in Ukraine. “I can’t put into words the gratitude we have.”
One of the easiest and most effective ways for Episcopalians to help is to contribute to the Episcopal Relief & Development response in Ukraine. The agency coordinates with the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe and ecumenical partners in the region, including the Anglican Alliance.
“We are extremely grateful to all of our generous donors and supporters who enable us to provide assistance through our partners,” said Abagail Nelson, executive vice president of Episcopal Relief & Development, in a press release. The financial contributions will be used to “equip our local partners to obtain the specific emergency supplies they need, from local and regional sources, which will support the local economy”.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at [email protected].