Churches, small and large, respond generously to lives disrupted by war

Photos from a recent community dinner hosted by Elma UMC to raise funds to support the people of Ukraine through UMCOR.

Since Russian forces began their assault on the people of Ukraine early in 2022, United Methodists have joined with countless others to raise funds to support efforts to provide direct relief. Through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), these funds have supported the direct actions of our churches in the region as well as the work of regional partners.

While many churches have taken offerings, some have gotten creative. As summer arrived, Ephrata United Methodist Church raised just over $10,000, according to church member Christy Price. The funds were raised through donations and a yard sale. All this was done while the church awaits extensive repairs and rebuilding after a fire last April.

Price shares that they aren’t waiting for the church to be repaired to continue in mission. “In the meantime, we are still an active and strong small congregation! We have continued our mission to feed the community through free monthly dinners, serving 130-140+ people each month, and we organized this yard sale with all the proceeds to help people in Ukraine.”

Last month, Elma United Methodist Church raised over $1,600 at their first community dinner in three years due to the pandemic. With chicken discounted by a local business and the generosity of volunteers cooking, decorating and preparing over several days, Elma’s fellowship hall hosted the Ukraine-themed meal. The space has hosted the colors of Ukraine’s flag – yellow and blue – adopting them shortly after the invasion began.

“On what were the two hottest days of the summer – or at least it seemed like it – a team of congregation members, the pastor, friends and family, put the dinner together of Chicken Kiev and all the fixings,” shared Rev. Pam Brokaw.

The meal was a success, selling out in an hour, but that didn’t stop the generosity. Brokaw was moved by the outpouring of support from the Elma, Satsop, and Montesano communities.

“When the food ran out, people made generous donations anyway. They said they believed in the cause!”

Rev. Ann Jacob speaks during the opening prayer service on the first day of the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/WCC

Last week, Rev. Ann Jacob had an opportunity to address the opening worship service at the 11th World Council of Churches Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany. During her testimony, she spoke about the ongoing ministry of the church she co-pastors, Edmonds UMC, to offer radical hospitality to refugees seeking to resettle in the U.S. She shared that the church’s resettlement ministry is currently accompanying 30 Afghan and Ukrainian refugees each week. Underway for six years now, the church partners with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services in its efforts.

Reflecting on a recent interaction where an Afghan refugee family hosted the church’s youth group, Jacob said, “No Matter where you come from, what our immigration status is, how much or how little we have, what we believe or doubt, or whom we love, Christ’s love moves through us to transform the world to reconciliation and peace.”

In these ways and more United Methodists across the conference, area, and world are responding to the needs of lives disrupted by war and other conflicts, making space for people to experience some of that reconciliation and peace.

More information on the work of UMCOR and partner organizations in Ukraine and beyond can be found on the Global Ministries website.

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