United Methodists of the Central Texas Conference, the grace of Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
The images of women, children, and families, carrying their basic belongings in suitcases and backpacks, sheltering in subways, fleeing their homes while under attack in Ukraine have broken our hearts. The news of the last week about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has reignited fears of world war, something many of us believed was a thing of the past.
The Feb. 24 invasion by Russia into a neighboring and sovereign nation has escalated tensions in Europe and beyond. The military actions by Russian leaders have created a humanitarian crisis, inflicting stress and anguish on innocent civilians, many with relatives in the country now invading them.
We United Methodists are people of peace. We deplore war because its evils clearly frustrate God’s loving purpose for humankind. We urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations, and we pray for the day when there will be no more war and people live together in peace and justice. (BOD ¶ 164.V.I The Political Community).
Join me in prayer for the people of Ukraine and in support of the leadership of Bishop Christian Alsted of the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area. The United Methodist Church has mission-based congregations in both Ukraine and Russia, some from the pre-Soviet period and others dating from post-Soviet years. Both countries relate to the United Methodist central conferences of Europe. Bishop Eduard Khegay, the resident episcopal leader in Eurasia, is based in Moscow and, yes, he is the bishop of both the church in Ukraine and in Russia! So let us pray in particular that he might shepherd both sides with love and grace.
Our conference is committing $25,000 to UMCOR from our disaster relief fund to alleviate the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.
Central Texas Conference United Methodists can also show support immediately in two very important ways.
First, I urge all Central Texas Conference churches to make this coming Sunday, March 6, a day of prayer for the people of Ukraine and for the entire situation surrounding this conflict. I ask that our pastors lead congregations in prayer during worship this weekend and provide a handout prayer provided for congregants to take home with them and pray throughout the week. I have written a prayer for peace based on the words of Psalm 91 and Isaiah 9 for your daily use until military operations cease and peace is realized. You can download it from out conference website at ctcumc.org/prayer-for-ukraine.
Second, I ask for your help for the hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced by warfare. The General Board of Global Ministries — through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) — has a fund set up for international disaster response and recovery.
You can donate directly by going to https://umcmission.org/advance-project/982450. The Advance number is 982450. I am also asking our churches to hold a Special Offering in support of this effort during one Sunday in March.
Donations also can be mailed to the Central Texas Conference office at P.O. Box 50517, Fort Worth, Texas 76105. Please remember to write “UMCOR #982450” on the memo line.
Money also can be sent with that notation with your church’s remittance forms.
During this season of Lent, we contemplate the self-giving sacrifice made by Jesus on our behalf and we pray that his authority, peace, justice, and righteousness over our conflicted and war-torn world will grow continually and endlessly. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Grace and peace to you all.
Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.
Episcopal Leader of the Central Texas Conference UMC