25 February 2022
Dear members of Church and Peace,
Just a few weeks ago, at Christmas, we remembered Isaiah’s hope for peace: “Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:5-7a).
No, peace is still small, vulnerable and threatened in many regions of the world, including Europe. Soldiers’ boots, stomping along with a roar, cloaks, dragged through blood – since yesterday, what has been threatening people in eastern Ukraine day after day for years has become a brutal danger for the whole country.
How do we prevail with our longing for peace and our knowledge, our tools, in times of war? It is difficult to hold on to the vision that times will come when there is no end to peace! It is and remains a constant challenge to work for it, to live for it and to pray for it. In and despite all the disturbing events! Together with the British branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation we invite you to a prayer for Ukraine tonight at 8.30pm. We meet online tonight at 7:30pm (UK time)/ 8:30pm (CET)/ 9:30pm (Kyiv)/ 10:30pm (Moscow). Register now !
Together with many other (peace) organisations, e.g. EIRENE, we invite you to a rally for peace on Sunday, 27 February at 1pm in Berlin (Straße des 17. Juni) “Peace for Ukraine and all of Europe”.
Kees Nieuwerth, Vice-President of Church and Peace and Vice-President of the National Council of Churches in the Netherlands, has written a statement for the National Council of Churches. You can find it here: https://www.church-and-peace.org/en/2022/02/war-in-ukraine-what-now
We have put together a compilation of how some members and friends of Church and Peace are reacting to the situation – to share, to exchange, to inspire your own actions:
- From Kyiv, Quakers report that they have been overwhelmed by many prayers and emails in the last few days. Normally they meet for online worship with just a few people, but last Sunday there were more and people from Laurentius Convent in Wethen were also there. They wrote last night: ‘God and your prayers will help us’.
- Friends House Moscow (FHM) wrote on Facebook two days ago about an anti-war demonstration in Moscow. FHM also stresses the importance of praying together with the Quakers. Yesterday they shared a prayer from a Quaker in Moscow: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsHouseMoscow/posts/5271705882881983
- The Ukrainian Pacifist Movement stated yesterday: “The Ukrainian Pacifist Movement condemns all military actions on the sides of Russia and Ukraine in the context of current conflict. We call the leadership of both states and military forces to step back and sit at the negotiation table. Peace in Ukraine and around the world can be achieved only in a nonviolent way. War is a crime against humanity. Therefore, we are determined not to support any kind of war and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.“
- The Anabaptist Forum for Peace and Justice in Switzerland, as well as others, publish or refer to their statements: https://friedenundgerechtigkeit.ch/?p=2754
- The Swiss branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR MIR Suisse) invites to a demonstration on 26 February in Bern: https://ifor-mir.ch/friedensdemo-am-samstag-26-2-in-bern
- The Italian branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation has published a statement in which they join the calls of all sides for ceasefire, peace, dialogue, disarmament and a non-violent solution to the conflict: https://www.miritalia.org/2022/02/24/il-mir-condanna-la-guerra-e-indica-la-via-della-nonviolenza
- The German branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation has published a statement on the war in Ukraine: https://www.versoehnungsbund.de/2022-02-24-krieg-in-der-ukraine
- Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has evacuated North American staff from Ukraine. They write: “The international MCC staff in Ukraine, from Canada and the USA, left Ukraine about a week ago. The regional directors and representatives for Ukraine have been in contact with the Ukrainian staff since then, especially today 24 Feb. Everyone is safe, although they are worried about what might happen next. We invite you to pray and stand with us for peace.” https://mcccanada.ca/stories/crisis-ukraine
- The Anglican Pacifist Fellowship had invited people to an evening of prayer in early February. https://www.anglicanpeacemaker.org.uk/prayers-for-ukraine-26th-january-powerpoint-available-to-view/
- Quakers in Britain condemn the attack and call for an end to the fighting: https://www.quaker.org.uk/news-and-events/news/quakers-condemn-attack-on-ukraine
- Christian Campagin for Nuclear Disarmament released a statement and organised an online prayer for peace last night: https://christiancnd.org.uk/2022/02/24/christian-cnd-statement-on-ukraine
- You can pray with the sisters of the community in Grandchamp, the daily time prayers can be followed and prayed along in the livestream: https://www.grandchamp.org/vie-de-priere
- Youth for Christ Croatia are praying with and for their brothers and sisters in Ukraine for protection, wisdom and strength.
- Believers for Peace in Croatia met last night to discuss next steps.
- The board of gewaltfrei handeln (acting nonviolently) writes: In the board we agree that we do not want to go along with the security and war logic that places the blame for the conflict only on one side or the other, depending on the perspective, and that we want to resist the rhetoric of escalation and we refer to a document of the Bund für Soziale Verteidigung (BSV) https://soziale-verteidigung.de/system/files/infoblatt_ukrainekrise_08022022_web.pdf https://pzkb.de/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Stellungnahme_Fu%CC%88r-konsequent-friedenslogisches-Handeln_Ukraine.pdf . The BSV has also published a statement calling on the people of Ukraine to engage in civil resistance. https://soziale-verteidigung.de/artikel/ukraine-appell
- Annelies Klinefelter calls for Silent Circles in the Netherlands: “Sending messages to peace groups to hold a silence circle in cities and villages this Saturday at 5:00 p.m. to ask for de-escalation, to demand politics, in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict. Let the churches open their doors for prayer and contact. That’s my wish tonight. Spread the word.”
- The Bishop of the Protestant Church in Baden calls on the Russian government to stop the attack and turn back to the negotiating table. “With our thoughts and prayers we are with the people in Ukraine, the war is hitting an already suffering and severely traumatised population.” He thanked the work of church relief agencies in the region. https://www.ekiba.de/detail/nachricht-seite/id/37092-sind-in-gedanken-bei-den-menschen-in-der-ukraine
- The Evangelical Methodist Church also has churches and congregations in Russia and Ukraine. See: https://www.emk.de/meldung/der-kraft-des-gebets-viel-zutrauen
- The chairman of the Laurentiuskonvent, Stephan Hünninger, writes: …We in Laufdorf try to keep in touch with our Ukrainian friends who have visited us several times. Our guest house is open to them. We received a very moving email from Konstatin Sigov (Director of the “European Humanities Research Center” and the publishing house “Dukh i Litera” at the University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy) from Kiev. We have been connected with him and his institute for a long time…As in many other German cities, we will also hold a vigil together with the Friedenstreff on the Eisenmarkt in Wetzlar on Saturday.
- Mennonite World Conference calls for prayer: https://mwc-cmm.org/stories/pastoral-letter-regarding-ukraine
- Church and Peace is a member of ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons). ICAN condemns Russian invasion of Ukraine: https://www.icanw.org/ican_condemns_russia_invasion_of_ukraine_an_escalation_risking_nuclear_war
Please keep us informed!
In great grief and sorrow
Antje (Antje Heider-Rottwilm, Chairperson)
A Prayer from the Community of Corrymeela
It is with deep sadness that we pray for peace and for the people of Ukraine.
God who sees the weakness
in acts of naked aggression;
God who feels the fear
in moments of acute helplessness:
cure this warring madness,
and shield all who fall in harm’s way.
Leach the poison from the mind
that thinks strength is shown
in a bullying force.
And may an equal strength in solidarity
give resolve to those
whose aim is to protect, and respect,
not just the ones we call our own,
but all with whom we can share
a better, more peaceful world.