Dear brothers and sisters,
As you know, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has illegally, wickedly, and sinfully invaded the free and independent nation of Ukraine, starting a war, causing countless casualties, destroying cities and villages, and forcing millions of people to flee their homes into the neighboring European countries.
When human beings kill other human beings, they commit the sin of Cain - treacherously murdering their brothers. War is never justifiable and is always condemnable. Putin's actions are hard to fathom. May the Lord have mercy on his soul.
While emotions are still running extremely high, especially for me; and since our parish was founded by people whose ancestral lands are in the Eastern Europe; and since we have a number of parishioners who are immigrants from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, I am asking you, and myself, to do three things at this time:
1. Pray. Living in the US, so far from the horrific events in Ukraine, we can't do much, but we can pray. Which is a lot more than we may realize. Here are three prayers you can use at home, and which we will also pray in church after every Liturgy.
2. Show practical love by making financial donations or providing humanitarian aid. Two Orthodox Christian organizations that are providing help to the refugees and to those still in Ukraine are Ukrainian Refugee Relief (organized by the Orthodox Church in America and Polish Orthodox Church) and International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). We have made humanitarian aid collection. Once it is sent to Ukraine, we might make another collection.
3. And lastly, please do not talk politics in church. I will strictly enforce it myself. Generally, I am of the opinion that the church is a place where we can and should discuss any topic. But not now. For some of us the feelings may be too raw, so avoid any political discussions, be they on Ukraine and Russia, EU or NATO, Trump or Biden, Democrats or Republicans, liberal or conservative, pro-this-thing or anti-that-thing. We will not talk about politics either before services, during our communal prayer, or after, at the fellowship time.
There has been quite a lot of anti-Russian rhetoric online, and TV, and among people in general. So it is necessary to say that Russian people did not attack Ukraine. Russians are not Putin, and Putin is not Russians. A lot of Russians are against the war, and they have shown this by going out on protests in Russia and getting arrested. So if you catch yourself expressing hateful things towards Russian people, please stop. They are victims as well, living under tyrant.
Yours in the Lord,