Tracking the UCC Ukraine response
by Rev. Kent Siladi
Our team spent most of the first day traveling from the U.S. to Hungary (by way of Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Istanbul and finally Budapest.)
On our first night we met for dinner with Balázs Odor of the Hungarian Reformed Church who is the ecumenical officer and our host for our time in Hungary. At dinner we also were joined by Serge Fornerod, ecumenical officer from the Swiss Reformed Church. Balazs and Serge had just returned from a trip to Ukraine where they participated in the installation of a Ukrainian Bishop.
Over dinner, Serge said something that got our attention. He remarked how important it was that someone from “the west” was present for the installation. He said: “God notices when we show up.” The presence of the Swiss Reformed Church in Ukraine during a war mattered. It reminded all of us of the ministry of presence.
In our own small way that is what our UCC group is doing in these days. We are showing up and meeting our partners where they are making a difference and an impact in their work with Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced people. The story is beginning to unfold in real and present ways beyond the sound bites of our own media.
On our second day we began with worship at St. Colomba’s Church of Scotland which is an English-speaking congregation doing critical work with 300 Ukrainian families in providing weekly food for those whose lives have been turned upside down by the war. The need is very great, and they have another 350 people on a waiting list to receive food from the congregation.
At the back of the church is a window which is titled: “Out of chaos, hope.”
Showing up and maintaining hope serve as watchwords to carry us on as our journey has just begun.
The Rev. Kent Siladi, Director of Philanthropy, is part of a four-person United Church of Christ delegation meeting with global partners in Europe to see how UCC gifts are being used to help the people of Ukraine.