By Roland Fernandes
The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church is deeply troubled by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the ominous implications it has for escalating tensions between Russia and Western nations. We join many Christian leaders and organizations worldwide in deploring the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and we ardently pray for a redirection of military action toward diplomatic measures to resolve grievances. United Methodists are people of peace.
The United Methodist Church has mission-founded congregations in both Ukraine and Russia, some from the pre-Soviet period and others dating from post-Soviet years. Both countries are geographically within the Eurasia Episcopal Area and relate to the United Methodist central conferences of Europe. Bishop Eduard Khegay, the resident episcopal leader in Eurasia, is based in Moscow.
We join with Bishop Christian Alsted of the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area and chair of our denomination’s Connectional Table in the prayer that conflict involving political matters will not break the unity between United Methodists in Ukraine and Russia.
Ties broken by Communism between Methodist communities in the Soviet bloc and the United Methodist denomination were reestablished in the 1990s through a number of mission initiatives related to Global Ministries. That work led to the inclusion of the whole of Eurasia into the organic structure of the church through the creation of the Eurasia Episcopal Area.
While Global Ministries has no administrative role in the affairs of annual conferences, districts or congregations in Russia or Ukraine, we are partners in mission with church units and projects in those countries. We have placed numerous missionaries and young adult Global Mission Fellows in the region over the years and accept applications for missionary and mission volunteer service from both countries. We currently have no mission personnel in Ukraine.
We pray for the peace and security of United Methodists in Ukraine and Russia and for all of their neighbors, and that tranquility will prevail over their lives and countries.
Roland Fernandes is the general secretary of Global Ministries and UMCOR.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), the humanitarian relief arm of Global Ministries, is in communication with partners in the region and actively exploring the coordination of humanitarian response in Ukraine. Support UMCOR’s international disaster response efforts by making a gift to Advance #982450.