On the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, our church leaders have made statements on the continuing war and how we can respond.
It is with tremendous sorrow that one year on from the Russian invasion of Ukraine there are few signs of the war coming to an end anytime soon. We have all seen the headlines; it is apparent that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian combatants have been killed or injured, and there have been tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilian casualties, including hundreds of children. 14 million people have needed to flee their homes and around 18 million are in desperate need of humanitarian support. These numbers are almost impossible to comprehend, but the images of distraught mothers and wives, and terrified children on our television screens, if nothing else, will surely bring us all to our knees in prayer. Our heartfelt solidarity is with all those who are suffering the devastating effects of this war and especially to those grieving the loss of loved ones.
Scripture is full of examples of times when God’s presence is tangible in the face of deep darkness. I am heartened, in some measure, by the glimmers of light kindled by Baptist churches in the UK, across Europe and in Ukraine itself which, empowered by the Holy Spirit, are fulfilling their calling to be peacemakers; demonstrating compassion and love at every opportunity. Across Baptists Together, I am inspired by all those who have sacrificially opened their homes, exercising hospitality for Ukrainian refugees. I am also deeply encouraged by churches offering food and clothing banks, English lessons, and wellbeing spaces. I will be praying that these lights will burn brighter still as the fighting continues.
Our first prayer, however, must be for an end to the war. The journey towards hope, peace, justice, and security is down a long and complex path, but it is one we must pray both Russian and Ukrainian authorities will soon embark upon together. Until then, may the presence of God be felt by all who suffer, and may we who have been comforted bring comfort to others.
Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
The Methodist Church
For the past year we have been horrified by the scale of the violence in Ukraine. Russia’s invasion failed to depose the legitimately elected government in Ukraine. Tragically, it has been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths of Ukrainians and Russians, both civilians and military. Atrocities have been committed that will leave physical and mental scars on those living in Ukraine’s war zones and no doubt on perpetrators as well. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, those whose lives and dreams have been destroyed, families that have been separated and all those who have sought sanctuary in another country.
Our churches have worked with the government to help shape the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Over 150,000 people have sought shelter in the UK. Our church members are well represented among the many who have provided accommodation, while many local churches have provided further support. Sadly still more people are being forced out of Ukraine today. Only an end to the conflict can provide the relief that the people of Ukraine so desperately need. Our prayers are for the people of both Ukraine and Russia, for peace and justice, and for an outcome that ensures the future security of all in the region.
Revd Graham Thompson, President of the Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain
The United Reformed Church
The anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is an occasion for lament and sober reflection. Over the last year, Russia’s military action has led to devastation and destruction on a massive scale, and thousands of deaths and casualties among Ukrainian civilians. Nearly eight million Ukrainians have fled the country to seek refuge. The conflict is also taking its toll on people in Russia, as economic sanctions bite, political freedoms and access to information are restricted, and many men have been conscripted to fight. The human cost of war is vast and the legacies of war stretch for generations. Our prayers are with all who suffer and grieve.
Amidst the overwhelming horrors of this war, there are nonetheless glimmers of hope. Ukraine’s people and its leadership have shown remarkable resilience in the face of President Putin’s aggression. The welcome that Ukrainians have found in other countries, including through many in the UK who have opened their homes to strangers, is heartening. We must be mindful that as the war continues, so does the need for generosity in offering hospitality and humanitarian support. So ‘let us not become weary in doing good’ (Galatians 6:9).
Ultimately, the suffering will only be ended by dialogue which establishes a just peace that provides security for all. As we express solidarity with the people of Ukraine on this sorry anniversary, we pray that opportunities will soon open up for this to begin.
Revd Fiona E Bennett, Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church
10 Minutes on Ukraine – one year on
Dave and Steve sat down to mark the anniversary by discussing the nature of the war in our latest episode of 10 Minutes On, one year on from their podcast about the invasion last February.
Listen to their conversation here:
Prayer from JPIT
God of peace and justice,
with sorrow and lament,
we hold the situation in Ukraine before you,
a year on from the Russian invasion.
We long for an end to the conflict
and the bloodshed and suffering.
We remember people in Ukraine
living in fear of death and destruction.
We pray for all who grieve
lost lives and opportunities.
May those who have been displaced
find safety and welcome in their new communities.
We pray that those with authority and influence
will work for a just peace which provides security for all.
As we hold in our prayers all affected by the war,
we pray that they may know that they are held in your loving arms.
In Jesus’ name we pray,