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DYK? The Connection in Action

Posted: April 1 2022 at 12:00 AM
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I have never been more proud to be a United Methodist than I am in this season. Over the past few weeks, we have watched with increasing dismay as the people of Ukraine have come under attack. They have been driven from their homes into underground shelters and subway stations. Refugees are crammed into trains heading out of the country while dodging bombs and tanks, leaving villages and cities in ruins. Millions of children have been displaced. The mounting death toll has led to mass graves. Hunger and hopelessness flash before our eyes each time we turn on the news.

In the face of such stark realities, we can be dismissive, numbed by the magnitude, feel helpless, overwhelmed by the devastation, or find we can find ways to respond. As United Methodists, we respond. We respond quickly, effectively, and generously because we are already present on the ground in Ukraine and the surrounding countries.

The Ukraine-Moldova Provisional Annual Conference is small, with 500 members in 10 congregations located near or in major cities such as Kharkiv, Kyiv, Poltova, and Chernivtsi. Laity and pastors from these churches are working to bring comfort and aid to these communities. Methodist work in present-day western Ukraine was founded by the Chechoslovak Annual Conference in the 1920s and continued to grow through World War II. This is one of the few places during the Soviet period where Methodist house churches continued to meet through the 1950s.

In 1964 contact was made with Methodists in Tallinn, Estonia for pastoral training. Four congregations in 1989 contacted the Hungarian Annual Conference and remained in connection until 1992 when General Conference decided to make Eurasia an independent Episcopal area, including Ukraine and Moldova.

The people of Ukraine are our neighbors. Elsewhere in the Reporter and on our conference website, you can hear from pastors in Ukraine, Revs. Oleg and Dr. Yulia Starodubets. Through their witness, we feel the tension of war and the hope that comes with deep abiding faith. Rather than tune out or feel helpless, we as United Methodists are connected. We have a means to respond through our General Board of Global Ministries advance offerings and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). You can read more about our United Methodist response to the crisis in Ukraine at umcmission.org/umcor/faq-the-crisis-in-ukraine.

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UMCOR's work in Ukraine is being funded with gifts to Advance #982450, International Disaster Response and Recovery. Grants for immediate relief have been given to United Methodist partners in Ukraine and neighboring nations—Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia—to support those who remain in Ukraine and those who have fled the violence. These grants provide humanitarian assistance with food, water, clothing, shelter, and other necessary supplies. The situation in Eastern Europe is evolving and Global Ministries and UMCOR will continue to respond in the months and years ahead.

Each year, many churches take part in UMCOR Sunday by taking a special offering to underwrite the administrative costs of UMCOR. Because of your generosity in 2021, $1,921,619 was given in support of UMCOR's work to alleviate human suffering and advance hope and healing.

I encourage churches to consider ways to fundraise for this year's Annual Conference Bishop's Appeal special offering that will go toward Ukranian assistance, which includes UMCOR's International Disaster Response, as we continue to seek ways to respond.

Be it a flood in Texas, tornado in Oklahoma, or invasion in Ukraine, the United Methodist Church is there. We are there. We are bringing tangible assistance to those who suffer as a connectional church linking every congregation with needs across the globe. We make a difference as The United Methodist Church.

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