By John Calhoun
It is now more than three years since armed conflict erupted in the heart of eastern Europe. In February 2014, the center of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was engulfed by violent confrontations between protesters and police that left more than 100 people dead and many more injured. The upheaval led the (former) President Victor Yanukovich to flee Ukraine, resulting in a newly-elected government to serve the country. In late February, Russian troops entered the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and quickly assumed control of government buildings; in March, Crimea became a Russian territory. In April 2014, a portion of eastern Ukrainians with the support of Russian military personnel, took up arms against the Ukrainian authorities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.
Bishop Eduard Khegay, the episcopal leader of the United Methodist Church in Eurasia, which includes Ukraine and Russia, is acutely aware of the pain and fear experienced by many United Methodist in his episcopal area. In his pastoral visits to local congregations in the affected regions, Bishop Khegay has witnessed the impact of war and displacement on congregations and families. He has heard clergy and lay members express their frustration over the failures of political leaders to resolve this crisis, and their desire to try to build bridges of peace with people of faith on the other side of the divide.