How is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) responding?
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 as well as neighboring nations—Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia—to support those who remain in Ukraine as well as those who have fled the violence. In addition, grants are being awarded to partners like ACT Alliance, a global faith-based coalition working in 120 countries around the world. These grants are providing humanitarian assistance in the form of food, water, clothing, shelter and other necessary supplies.
We are in continuous dialogue with UMC entities and other partners throughout Europe to identify additional ways UMCOR might assist. The situation in Eastern Europe is evolving and Global Ministries and UMCOR will continue to respond in the months and years ahead.
How can I support those still in Ukraine and those fleeing the violence?
At this time, all gifts to UMCOR’s International Disaster Response and Recovery Advance will be used to assist those who remain in Ukraine and those who have fled the violence to neighboring nations. Gifts can be made in the following ways:
UMCOR does not ship relief kits or other supplies internationally. While the need is great and it is tempting to assist by shipping clothes, shoes and diapers, the cost is high. Instead, we encourage you to help us assist our partners in securing supplies in Europe.
This is less costly than shipping supplies, helps local economies and ensures that materials received are the materials needed at any given time. Your gift will allow us to procure materials and supplies locally.
Thank you for your willingness to serve. UMCOR does not recruit international volunteers to assist in emergencies globally. Instead, we work with partners who employ people or recruit volunteers locally. While UMC partners on the ground have indicated that they look forward to the time when they can receive volunteers, they now need to devote themselves to assisting refugees and their immediate needs and do not have the capacity to provide for the logistic and linguistic needs of volunteers. In time, there may be opportunities for volunteer teams to assist with rebuilding or help in other ways. Months from now, UMC leadership in these areas may send out a call for volunteers.
The U.S. is not yet receiving Ukranian refugees, except in cases of family reunification. When it does, UMCOR will be working with its long-standing partner, Church World Service (CWS), to resettle those granted permission to enter the country. In the interim, CWS would welcome your help resettling Afghan refugees.
Our church wants to have a direct relationship with a UMC congregation in Ukraine or Eastern Europe. Can you provide us with contact information?
As a general best practice, UMCOR does not refer people to our partners on the ground because they are busy responding to the crisis at hand. Staff of Global Ministries and UMCOR are open to speaking with congregations, mission committees and other groups about our work, virtually or in-person.
Is The United Methodist Church active in Ukraine? In Russia? In surrounding regions?
Ukraine covers over 233,000 square miles, extending from the borders of Poland and Romania to the west, bordering Russia on the east and south and touching on Russia and Belarus on the north. The majority of the Ukrainian population—more than 40 million people—is affiliated with Eastern Orthodox Christianity, through both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews and Protestants are a small minority of the population.
The UMC expanded in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. New United Methodist congregations and student ministries emerged, assisted by missionaries, mission volunteers and teams.
Although Ukraine declared its independence from Russia in 1991, relations have not been easy. In 2014, for example, Russia seized and annexed Crimea, resulting in the loss of five Ukrainian UMC congregations which were transferred to the South Russia Annual Conference.
Now there are 10 United Methodist Churches in Ukraine, strategically located in larger cities, with a combined membership of approximately 500 people. The Ukrainian-Moldova Provisional Annual Conference is part of the Eurasia Episcopal Area, which includes seven nations: Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Bishop Eduard Khegay is the bishop of the Eurasia Episcopal Area.
There are three other episcopal areas in Europe: Central and Southern Europe Area (Bishop Patrick Streiff); German Area (Bishop Harald Ruckert); and Nordic and Baltic Area (Bishop Christian Alsted.) All of these episcopal areas are welcoming refugees from Ukraine.
What prayer can I lift up for the people of Ukraine?
This intercessory prayer was written for World Day of Prayer by the women of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, on February 25, 2022:
God of the past, the present and the future,
Our thoughts and prayers are with our sisters and brothers in Ukraine and the surrounding countries in their fear and distress.
We pray too for all other regions of the world where there is conflict, unrest or oppression.
We pray that reconciliation will overcome hatred, peace will conquer war, hope will replace despair and that your plans for the region will be fulfilled,
God, in your mercy
Hear our prayer.
The General Board of Global Ministries is the global mission, relief and development agency of The United Methodist Church. The work of Global Ministries includes 17 programs organized around four missional priorities: Missionaries, Evangelism and Church Revitalization, Global Health and Humanitarian Relief and Recovery, which includes the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). UMCOR is dedicated to alleviating human suffering and advancing hope and healing through disaster response and support of global migration.