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Dear Beloved in Christ,

Over the past 11 days, the world has turned upside down as a new and unprovoked war has broken out. Our hearts break for those in Ukraine who are under attack: for those whose lives are being put at risk or have been lost by senseless political ambition and confused ideology. Our hearts ache for those driven from their homes to escape the dangers of war, and who have begun the journey to an uncertain future.

We pray for a peaceful and quick resolution to this conflict, for all those defending their homes and country, for diplomats and leaders of the nations who are working for peace, for people everywhere calling for peace and justice, for leaders in the Church and society who are serving their neighbor amidst the turmoil of war, for medical professionals who are preserving life, and for all those who watch, work on behalf of others, and who wait and weep in these days.

Among those who have set their hand to service of neighbor are our siblings in the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia. Slovakia, of course, shares a border with Ukraine and, like neighboring Poland, Hungary, and Romania, is seeing a massive influx of refugees.

We have already heard from our friends and partners in Slovakia, including those who have been trainees in, and supported by, Slovak Zion Synod’s programs; they report that many of our sister churches are already opening their doors to house refugees. In coming days, we hope to share more of their stories. In the meantime, we hold in prayer our sister churches in Slovakia, their pastors and lay leaders, as well as their bishop, Ivan Eľko, as they respond to this humanitarian crisis by being Christ’s hands and feet for their neighbors in need.

On February 26, I invited our Synod pastors to lead prayers within our congregations and collect special offerings for the people of Ukraine and our friends and co-workers in Slovakia ministering to them during this humanitarian crisis. To those who have already responded, I extend my thanks and thank God for your faithfulness.

Today, I extend this invitation to everyone to pray and to collect a special offering which our Synod will send to support the hard work of the pastors and congregations in Slovakia who are ministering to those in need during this humanitarian crisis and time of trauma; these special donations, made out and sent to the Slovak Zion Synod (at P.O. Box 1003, Torrington, CT 06790) should indicate “Ukraine” on the memo line of the check.

In Lent, the Church clothes itself in prayer and fasting. This Lent, we mourn with our siblings in Ukraine who are at risk, and those who are now refugees separated from their homeland, homes, and families. We lift up in prayer all in need of care, and all those who provide care. May our merciful Lord bring us all to a joyful Easter, that we may all share in the abundant life of Christ.

+Bishop Wilma S. Kucharek