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Concern for Ukrainian Crisis: The invasion of Ukraine is costing precious lives and creating a humanitarian crisis as people flee to safety. The United Nations reports that a growing number of over a million people, displaced from their homes, are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Many have lost friends, loved ones, and property; struggle to meet their basic needs, and face an uncertain future. The United Church of Canada has created a webpage with information on ways United Church people can express solidarity with Ukrainian neighbours, including a letter template, CLICK HERE.
 
Mission & Service Emergency Fund: United Church Mission & Service partners are responding to the rapidly unfolding crisis. You can help by donating through Mission & Service Emergency Fund: as part of this Fund, 100% of your donation goes directly to emergency relief, with 85% of your donation responding to this designated emergency and 15% responding to future emergencies that do not receive intense media coverage. Right now in Ukraine, people urgently need shelter, clean water, food, and medical attention. To DONATE: CLICK HERE.

 

Pastoral Letter from Blair Odney, Regarding the war in Ukraine, FEBRUARY 25, 2022
Dear Friends of the Pacific Mountain Regional Council,

Greetings to all of you in the name of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, the one we invite to live within us through faith, and in whose footsteps we try to follow.  I write to you in deep sadness over the events of the past week in the Ukraine. And in this moment, I invite you into a time of reflection.
It is inconceivable to me that in these most modern of times, we are witnessing invasion and war, to achieve singular political gain, construed to be a viable choice; that people still believe violence is a justifiable way to solve complex social and political issues.  In one hand we hold the undeniable truth that violence is not God’s way.  And in the other hand, we witness violence and acts of aggression – both large and small – every day of our lives.
As you take a minute to imagine these two realities in your hands, sitting in front of whatever device you read this from, we recognize that the scales of justice are in our hands.  In one hand, the peace that surpasses all understanding not just for you, but for everyone.  In the other hand, violence and acts of aggression, we see and/or unwittingly participate in.
This happens when we fail to see each other’s humanity, each other’s right to the fullness of life Christ speaks of in the gospel of John.  From where I sit, that is what is happening in the Ukraine right now.  The failure of one to see and recognize the other. And while this affects us all, none so much so as those in the direct line of fire, fleeing from homes and safety to God only knows where.  And whether we’re in disagreement about vaccine protocols and leadership capacities, pro-life or pro-choice, matters of reconciliation and right relationship, the minute we fail to see someone else’s humanity, the easier it is to dehumanize them.
On your behalf, in words barely adequate for the time, I have written to the Father Mykhailo from Holy Eucharist (Ukrainian) Cathedral in New Westminster expressing our sadness and solidarity.  And I know you are expressing your own words of love and support to those in the Ukrainian communities where you live and serve.  That’s what we do.
Let’s also recognize that the way of peace takes practice right here at home, deep within each of us.  Peter Short’s words are present for me in this moment:  “Behind every pair of eyes is a soul at work.”  Even those with whom we most disagree.  Our common humanity is our common ground.
May be the peace of Christ be with you in the troubling days ahead.

Rev. S. Blair Odney