CommPRO Editorial Staff
Spiritual leaders from across major faith traditions gathered via Zoom for a special Sunday service to pray for the people of Ukraine, calling for peace, and showing support for the emerging refugee crisis in Europe.
Hosted by the Church of the Holy City in Washington, DC, the event brought together members of the Ukrainian-American community who shared stories from friends and family in Ukraine.
“My friend in Kharkiv has written this to me this morning,” said Kateryna Pyatybratova, translating the message with tears in her eyes: “Thank you for not forgetting us, we are sitting in a basement, the food and water are ending, the shootings don’t stop. They want to surround Kharkiv. Around our house there were burning cars. We couldn’t get out. We are trying to see if we can send children to the Romanian border and stay here. Maybe the children will be spared… Please pray for us.”
Church of the Holy City member and Reporter at Newsy, Jason Bellini, who just came from the border between Ukraine and Poland, shared insights from his coverage of the refugee crisis at the border. “It’s the most miserable of circumstances, both on an emotional level for people, women leaving their sons and husbands behind, so they can fight – they are not allowed to leave with them… I feel great sorrow for them on that level, but also on a physical level. They are spending days and days just waiting, standing, not able to sit down in a frigid cold to try to get to safety, and they are not able to sit down, for days and days, and that level of suffering, I think, is worthy of our prayers tonight.”
The service started with a reading of Psalm 31, calling for protection of those seeking refuge in both English and Ukrainian languages. Prominent speakers included Rev. Rich Tafel of the Church of the Holy City, who recited a special prayer for peace. Executive Director of the Rumi Forum Ibrahim Anli read passages of the Quran, and Rabbi Scott Perlo, joining from Romemu Brooklyn, prayed and sang “Oseh Shalom, The One Who Makes Peace.”
A venerated South Korean Buddhist teacher Ven. Pomnyun passed on a message of peace, while prominent speaker and author, Agapi Stassinopoulos, sister of Arianna Huffington, led a healing meditation practice.
“I really enjoyed the service! It was a rich experience. Seeing Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and more come together is so inspiring. It was also moving to hear all of the stories… This has been a time for sense-making, reflection, mutual support, as well as collective action,” said Jameal Ghaznawi after the event.
Participants were invited to join “Let’s Welcome Refugees” Facebook group, moderated by the organizers of the event, activist President of the Church of the Holy City Annabel Park and Ukrainian-American social entrepreneur Kateryna Pyatybratova. https://www.facebook.com/groups/letswelcomerefugees/
Pyatybratova is also leading the work with faith-based organizations in Ukraine that are helping internally-displaced people and refugees fleeing the war zone. The first $1,000 collected after the event went to a family center in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, receiving hundreds of families in the last few days, and are desperately in need of funds. 100% of the proceeds go towards that effort. You can donate to this effort, Razom (Together) With Ukraine here: https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8HDqkIngeB