Dear beloved children in the Lord,
It is with profound pain and sorrow that we see the situation unfolding in Ukraine. The invasion of Russian troops has already caused death and destruction in many areas of the country and, as the battle progresses, the human cost continues to rise. It is heartbreaking to see the images of destroyed buildings, homes, and traffic jams as refugees flee the cities for their safety.
As Orthodox Christians we are expected to help those who are suffering and give comfort to the afflicted. The Apostle James asks us “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?” (Jas. 2:16). We cannot turn a blind eye to the material needs of our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.
Therefore, I am making a special appeal for donations from the individual parishioners of the Orthodox Church in America from February 28th through March 7th. These donations will be collected by the Orthodox Church in America and sent on to ELEOS, the humanitarian agency of the Polish Orthodox Church, and registered with the Polish government, who is dealing directly with the unfolding refugee crisis and needs support as soon as possible. Donations will go towards refugee relief, their housing, and meeting basic needs.
This collaboration is being done with the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of the Polish Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church in America and the Polish Orthodox Church have long historical ties and these ties have enabled this collaboration to come together so quickly. Donations can be made at oca.org/relief.
Furthermore, I again ask that fervent prayers be made for a swift end to this senseless violence. As we approach the beginning of Lent, we will soon hear the words of the Psalmist at the Presanctified Liturgy: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head running down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon which falls on the mountains of Zion. For the Lord has commanded the blessing, life for evermore!” (Ps. 132).
I pray that we, and all Orthodox Christians around the world, aspire to live according to these words.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada