UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
UKRAINE SURVIVAL CAMPAIGN
If not us, then who. If not now, then when?
There are millions of innocent Ukrainians suffering due to the current conflict with Russia. The foreign invasion has destroyed countless lives. A year ago families living peacefully, working 40 hour weeks, driving their kids to soccer practice and ballet, today find themselves homeless, penniless, crippled, widowed, and orphaned. Their lives have been shattered and now they find themselves fleeing their once vibrant cities, leaving behind the only life they knew, carrying all their worldly possessions on their backs, in to an unknown and insecure future.
Christ taught us to love our neighbor, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the stranger. Today we have the perfect opportunity to heed His words and help Christ, by helping those in need. On April 29, 2015, His Grace Bishop Daniel, Consistory President and Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. joined a distinguished panel of guests among which were General Wesley K. Clark (retired), Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, and presidential candidate; along with Metropolitan Epiphaniy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate); Sheikh Ahmed Tamim, Mufti of Ukraine; Bishop Jan Sobilo of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine; Bishop Valerii Reshetinskiy of the Evangelical Church; Rabbi Jason Miller; local clergy including V. Rev. Paul Bodnarchuck of St. Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral; V. Rev. Volodymyr Petriv, Dean of Metro Detroit Ukrainian Catholic churches; and Dr. Gary Kellner, founder of “Save Ukraine Now”, to launch the “Ukraine Survival Campaign”.
The two day event commenced with an early morning Prayer Breakfast held at the Ukrainian Cultural Center (UCC), in Warren, Michigan, where well over 200 individuals of various ethnicities and faiths gathered to learn about the current situation in Ukraine and how they can help the over one million refugees and displaced persons. Led in prayer by His Grace Bishop Daniel, all those gathered were made to realize the magnitude of the current and tragic situation in Ukraine, the need of prayer, asking for God’s intervention and assistance in returning the land to peace.
The Detroit Economic Club invited General Clark, who had recently returned from Ukraine, to speak on “Save Ukraine Now’ at their weekly luncheon, held at the Detroit Marriott in the Renaissance Center, in Detroit, Michigan. General Clark informed those gathered, which included Bishop Daniel, various clergy from Ukraine and the diaspora, local businessmen, philanthropists, and high school students, that what is happening in Ukraine today, will have an effect on all of us tomorrow. He compared President Putin’s aggression and ambition to that of Hitler, and stated that World War II could have been avoided and thousands of lives saved, had Hitler been stopped in 1937 when his ultimate plan was revealed. Today, we are heading straight for World War III if President Putin is not stopped, for his appetite will not be satiated by Ukraine, for he has ambitions towards Romania, Poland, the Balkans and beyond. It is imperative, for all our sakes, that the aggression and war in Ukraine be stopped.
General Clark’s riveting and informative talk was covered by local media and aired on various local news broadcasts that evening, building excitement in those who would be attending that evening’s banquet, which was held at the UCC. Over 300 guests were captivated as they listened not only to the general’s speech, but to the accounts of those who had witnessed the atrocities first hand.
The “Save Ukraine Now” Campaign has the support of Ukraine’s current government and President Poroshenko, who has guaranteed safe delivery of the donations to those individuals who need the help. Various organizations and churches have volunteered to assist the campaign which asks that volunteers fill 55 pound bags with clothing, blankets, bedding, towels, personal hygiene items, soap, dishes, flatware, as well as health and healthcare items such as vitamins, Tylenol, bandages, Ibuprofen, etc. Once filled the bags will be picked up from the various drop off locations by a truck and sent via ship to Odessa from which it will be escorted to Kyiv and distributed to those in need by various religious organizations.
The official event concluded Wednesday morning with the Strategic Briefing Breakfast, but, the work has just begun. The need is great. People are suffering. We need to do more than just wave the flag. We need to fill a bag. In the meantime, let us all join His Grace Bishop Daniel and pray for peace and prosperity in Ukraine.
Photos by Elizabeth Symonenko