A PRAYER FOR SOLIDARITY AND PEACE
“O Lord, God of life, as you care for all creation, give us your peace. May our security come not from weapons, but from respect. May our strength come not from violence, but from love. May our own wealth come not from money, but from sharing. May our path not be one of ambition, but of justice. May our victory not be one of revenge, but of forgiveness. Unarmed and confident, help us to defend the dignity of all creation. Sharing today and always the bread of solidarity and peace. Amen.”
– Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO HELP?
Good Shepherd stands in solidarity with our Ukrainian neighbors and is dedicated to supporting Ukrainian refugees and immigrants however possible.
Be confident in knowing that when you give to Good Shepherd, you are in fact giving to the ELCA, Lutheran World Relief, and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services whom we generously support. Lutheran World Relief and LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services) are actively involved with the Ukrainian crisis. Our mission team will continue to look for active ways that we as a church community can assist with this Humanitarian Crisis.
Pray daily! Join us in praying for the conflict to end, and for freedom and peace to return to Ukraine. We pray for God’s protection over those impacted by this horrific war. Sign up to receive “Solidarity with Ukraine: 5 Days of Prayer and Meditation” through LIRS HERE
Be informed! Below you will find a summary from World Relief about understanding the current crisis. You can also sign up for updates through LIRS including ways to help support and advocate our government on behalf of the people of Ukraine HERE.
Give as you are able! Financially support reputable organizations with “boots on the ground” in Europe providing aid in the current Humanitarian Crisis.
Organizations with Teams currently in Europe Assisting. There are many large International Aid Organizations currently working in Ukraine and neighboring countries, where a growing number of displaced people are fleeing. If you want to further explore how these Organizations are assisting and how you can partner with them, we have provided some convenient links for you below:
- Lutheran World Relief
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- World Central Kitchen
- Doctors Without Borders
- International Rescue Committee
- Samaritan’s Purse
UNDERSTANDING THE CURRENT SITUATION
Russian-Ukrainian tension has existed since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, when the then-largest country in the world suddenly collapsed into 15 smaller European nations, including Ukraine. At the time, Vladimir Putin, now president of Russia, called the collapse the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” Since the fall, Putin has desired to reclaim the lost territory, which he sees as “a single whole.”
Today, threatened by the expansion of Western influence and Ukraine’s desire to join NATO — The North Atlantic Treaty Organization — Russia feels a greater need and urgency than ever to exert and protect its influence in the region. The last month saw a huge troop buildup along Ukrainian borders, and on Thursday, February 24th, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the nation. Civilian targets are not being spared, as the indiscriminate bombing has damaged residential buildings, hospitals, schools, and crucial infrastructure that supplies heat, water, and electricity to citizens.
As of March 3rd, over one million refugees had fled across neighboring borders. This number is estimated to grow to over seven million during the coming weeks and months.
Where are people going?
Most Ukrainians are fleeing for their closest border with neighboring European countries. The sudden wave of people gathering at border crossings has created large humanitarian needs. These locations are in urgent need of basic necessities including water, food, heat, and shelter as the wait at the border for processing can take three to four days. As of March 3rd, Poland has been the primary recipient of refugees, with over 548,000 refugees crossing. Other countries that are seeing large numbers* of refugees are:
- Poland 548,000
- Hungary 139,686
- Moldova 97,827
- Slovakia 72,200
- Romania 51,261
- Russia 47,800
- Belarus 357
*These numbers reflect reports as of March 3rd, 2022 by World Relief.
Who is fleeing?
Tragically, it is mostly women and children who are crossing the borders alone. Men between the ages of 18-60 have been asked by Ukrainian President Zelensky to stay behind to join the defense forces. This means women and children are leaving home without their husbands, fathers, and brothers. This is also resulting in grave concerns about security and protection as many young women and children without adult guardians are crossing unaccompanied without money or visas, making them extremely susceptible to sexual violence, exploitation, and trafficking. UNICEF, IOM, and others are mobilizing protection units to be spread along the border crossings.
Are there any policies in place in the E.U. or the U.S. that could help protect Ukrainian Refugees?
Poland is currently considering passing a Parliamentary Act giving temporary residence rights to refugees coming in from Ukraine which would permit people to work and live in the country. This would be hugely beneficial to the millions seeking to rebuild their lives following this conflict.
In terms of U.S. policies, earlier this week the Biden administration granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ukrainians who are already in the U.S., allowing those whose temporary visa may be about to expire or who may have overstayed a temporary visa to stay lawfully in the U.S. and be authorized to work to support themselves, rather than being required to return to Ukraine at a time when doing so would be incredibly dangerous. We’re thankful for this action.
Will Ukrainian refugees come to the U.S?
Historically, a significant number of Ukrainians have come to the United States, including many admitted through the U.S. refugee resettlement program through a specific provision known as the Lautenberg Amendment, which offers resettlement to particular religious minorities from the Former Soviet Union.
World Relief has resettled over 13,000 refugees from Ukraine over the past 18 years; in fact, the 7,300 Ukrainians whom World Relief has resettled just in the past decade represent nearly 40 percent of all Ukrainian refugees resettled to the U.S. during that time frame. Our hearts and prayers are with the many Ukrainians living in the United States who are now deeply concerned for loved ones still living in Ukraine.
While it is possible that some individuals who are fleeing Ukraine now could eventually qualify for resettlement to the U.S., most who are fleeing this conflict are going to neighboring countries in Europe that, thus far, have been willing to offer them safety and protection.
We do anticipate that some Ukrainians who already have temporary U.S. visas may travel to the U.S., and once here may consider seeking asylum in the U.S. World Relief’s immigration legal services teams are actively providing guidance to those in the U.S. on the legal possibilities for seeking asylum or pursuing family reunification visas.
More information for Ukrainians in the United States is here.
AN INTERFAITH PRAYER
“Love and Peace,
We pray for all people — men, women, and children—
whose lives are in peril in Ukraine.
We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe
in a world emancipated from violence.
Heal the wounds of mind, body, and spirit that will occur due to the violence in our world.
Help us to devote ourselves to the task of making peace in our own neighborhoods and around the world. No one is hidden from your love.
Help us be home to others
Help us manifest your love and peace to the world.”
Questions? Feedback? Email Jeannine Allen.All Updates