By Elliott Wright
March 4, 2022 | ATLANTA
Even as they face uncertainties, the small United Methodist communities in Ukraine are reaching out to help their neighbors as their country is under attack by Russia, according to reports reaching Western Europe and the United States.
“The superintendent and pastors there are overwhelmed with local concerns, but they take time to stay connected to the church beyond their borders and let us know what they are doing to respond to human needs,” said the Rev. Üllas Tankler, the European/Eurasian representative of the General Board of Global Ministries, in a Zoom conversation.
Tankler, who is based in Estonia, stressed that United Methodist congregations in Ukraine are few and small in membership. “We have 10 churches with combined communities of around 500 people,” he said. Most of the churches are in larger cities. There is also a student ministry in Kyiv that appeals primarily to foreign students. The church in Lviv has a strong student and young adult focus.
“I hear three issues of immediate concern in the messages from United Methodists in Ukraine,” Tankler said. “First, they want to help those in need immediately around them. The present emphasis is on internally displaced people, notably in the west, around Lviv. Then, general humanitarian concerns within the county, and third, doing something to help those leaving Ukraine, initially becoming refugees in adjoining Poland, Hungary, Romania or Slovakia.”