Prayers of support urged for Ukraine

Ukraine protestUnited Methodists with concern for global peace and justice are prayerfully watching dire events unfold in Ukraine as Russia moves more troops into the Black Sea region of Crimea, tensions flare and the threat of violent bloodshed increases daily. At least two United Methodist missionaries serving in Ukraine have appealed to churches for supportive prayers in this growing conflict. (Michael Airgood photo)

The invasion, authorized but denied by Russian President Vladimir Putin, follows the popular uprising in Kiev and other areas in February that precipitated changes in Ukraine’s governing leadership and deepened the rift between pro-Western and pro-Russian forces there.

There is likely strong sentiment about this ongoing struggle in Pennsylvania, home to the second largest Ukrainian-American population after New York, with more than 122,000 out of the nearly 1 million total counted in the 2000 U.S. census. Philadelphia also followed New York City as the metropolitan area with the second largest number of Ukrainian-Americans at 60,000. And several Pennsylvania communities had some of the largest percentages of Americans with Ukrainian ancestry, led by the Cass Township in Eastern Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill County.

The Rev. John Calhoun is a General Board of Global Ministries missionary with the United Methodist Church in Kyiv Ukraine. His request for prayers, especially for the pastors of two UMC churches there, was written during the protests that preceded the current crisis.

Michael Airgood, who works with a United Methodist-related student ministry in L’viv, in western Ukraine, gives a more current and detailed report on conditions that are worsening daily.

“There are not enough news sources or journalists on the ground to keep up with all that is happening in Ukraine right now,” he writes. “This is a time of great uncertainty and turmoil for those of us in Ukraine.”
While he says he writes that he is safe in L’viv, Airgood cites previous killings of student protesters and Russia’s subsequent invasion as a tactic to exploit the nation’s vulnerability during its transition in government.

“Please pray for our student ministry as we do the best we can to comfort and aid the young people of Ukraine.  We have many prayer nights, fellowship times, and conversations with students,” he writes. “Please stay informed, stay in prayer, and stay in touch,” he urges. “Your support means a lot to our young people. We would love to see it.”

Read Michael’s comments and visit his blog at http://michaelairgood.blogspot.com/.

In the meantime, the General Board of Church and Society invites you to use the following prayer written by General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, as you remember and pray for the people of Ukraine.

Prayer for Peoples of Ukraine
Remembering the peoples of Ukraine, we as United Methodists pray:

Let us pray to the God of justice.
In places with difficult histories and painful histories, we pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For those in search of justice and peace, we pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For all who hunger and thirst for righteousness, we pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For young and old, that all be protected from acts of aggression, violence and intolerance, we pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For all who govern that they will create space for thoughtful and non-violent ways forward, we pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
For all who seek peace, we pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.
Help us, save us, have mercy on us and keep us, O God, by your grace.
Amen.

United Methodist policy statements
The following United Methodist Book of Resolutions and Social Principles speak to us about the gravity of the situation in Ukraine:
•    Resolution #6150. Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide & War Crimes;
•    Social Principle ¶165C: War & Peace; and
•    Social Principle ¶165D: Justice & Law.