Ukraine

Loss that cannot be counted

MCC partner Charitable Foundation Uman Help Center sets up a distribution event every week for food, hygiene supplies and other basic essentials for those living in or passing through Uman, Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of UMAN)

More than 100,000 people have fled to the area around the city of Uman in Ukraine as Russian military forces continue to advance. MCC partner Charitable Foundation UMAN Help Center distributes food; MCC hygiene kits, including toothpaste; and comforters to hundreds of people each month. (Photo courtesy of UMAN)

MCC partner Charitable Foundation UMAN Help Center provides food and other essential basics for people fleeing to, or through, the city of Uman, Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of UMAN)

As millions of civilians continue to flee the devastation of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, organizations like MCC partner UMAN (Charitable Foundation Uman Help Center) are working to support those who have left everything they know behind.

Is violence the best response to Putin?

Canada has provided four M777 155mm Howitzers—like the one pictured—to Ukraine. (The U.S. Army on Flickr.com / Creative Commons 2.0)

Given Vladimir Putin’s ruthless aggression, and the obvious limits of sanctions, and the brutal suffering of Ukrainians, is there room to question military response to Russia? What is the role of a peace church in this scenario?

Are we still, effectively, a peace church?

‘Evening for Ukraine’ raises $220,000

Violinist Lorin Friesen entertains attendees at a fundraising banquet at Peace Mennonite Church in Richmond, B.C., on May 7. (Photo by Jet Takaoka)

A fundraising dinner to help people affected by the current war in Ukraine began with a man who had vivid memories of leaving Ukraine as a five-year-old in the mid-1940s. The man phoned Gerd Bartel, a well-known member of Peace Mennonite Church in Richmond, with the simple question, “What can we do to help people in Ukraine?”

Making comforters for Ukraine refugees a community effort

Mother and daughter Marion and Irene Griese work together at a comforter at Niagara United Mennonite Church on March 26. (Photos by Emily Fieguth)

Women from the Westview Centre4Women work on the comforters.

A pile of comforters created at Niagara United Mennonite Church on March 26.

A basement room full of volunteers tie comforters at Niagara United Mennonite Church on March 26.

Bags of comforters ready for delivery to Mennonite Central Committee.

Niagara United Mennonite Church called its congregants and neighbourhood community together to tie comforters in the church basement on March 26. Advertisements in the local newspapers and in church bulletins invited anyone interested to gather for the morning.

Mend our beating heart

Michael Wilms (left), pictured in 2015 with his wife, Caitlin, at the Chortitza Mädchenschule (secondary school for girls) in the village of Chortitza. (Photo courtesy of Michael Wilms)

My grandfather, Harry Giesbrecht, referred to the country, language and people of Ukraine as his “beating heart.” The many trips back “home” breathed life into his aging lungs. The cool water of the Dnieper, the pothole-riddled roads near Lichtenau, Molochansk and Nikopol, and the patriotic anthems transformed my 80-year-old grandfather into a young man.

MCC partners in Ukraine work to meet physical and spiritual needs

MCC staff member Anna, centre, with her family and members of the local Evangelical Baptist church in western Ukraine that has converted their building into a refugee shelter with support from MCC for those fleeing the conflict. (Photo courtesy of MCC)

​​Children recover and rest on the mattresses and blankets assembled by an Evangelical Baptist church in the Lviv area for refugees fleeing the conflict. The work of this church has been supported by MCC. (Photo courtesy of MCC)

In the silence that lived between the deadly warnings of air raid sirens, the sound of a small choir, singing a song of praise, echoed out of a church sanctuary in western Ukraine. Just the night before, Anna, administrative coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ukraine, had absent-mindedly hummed a few bars of the song during an evening tea break at the church.

Two years in

(Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino/Unsplash)

Since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic came into the lives of Canadians, this magazine has published many accounts of life in pandemic times. There have been reports on how Mennonite churches and organizations have adapted to health restrictions, found new ways to care for others, and even managed to have fun, despite the challenges.

Prayer for the war in Ukraine

(Photo by Elena Mozhvilo/Unsplash)

God of hope,
we pray to you when hope is scarce
as our world convulses with the horror of war.
You alone know the extent of the crimes committed in Ukraine:
the people murdered, the homes and infrastructure destroyed,
the way violence comes as a calamity,
cutting a swath through the world.
Why is power concentrated in the hands of so few?
How can we make this war stop?
You alone know a way out of this quagmire of evil.
Help us find it.
Awaken those who dismiss this as someone else’s problem.

MCC pulls staff from Ukraine

Andrea Shalay and three American staff members of MCC scrambled to leave Ukraine. (Supplied photo)

Russia has begun military operations against Ukraine, but North American Mennonite Central Committee staff who were working in the latter country are safe.

That includes Winnipegger Andrea Shalay, the charity’s peace engagement co-ordinator for Europe. Shalay and three other staff, all Americans, were evacuated from Ukraine more than a week ago.

‘Bring us beyond our own stories’

Case descriptions for thousands of Mennonites who disappeared in Ukraine are now available online. This one shows an Abram Klassen.

Among the voluminous lists of those disappeared during the dark times in what is now Ukraine, researchers have found roughly 400 pages of Mennonite names, with five or six names per page. That is just for Zaporizhzhia province. The lists for all Ukrainian provinces are available online, though printed in Cyrillic script.

UWinnipeg Fellowship to crack open KGB archives

The new fellowship is named in honour of the late Paul Toews, who was the resident historian of the Mennonite Heritage Cruise that took thousands of Mennonite “pilgrims” on a journey back to Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of University of Winnipeg)

In the 1930s, thousands of Mennonites disappeared in the Soviet Union without a trace. The KGB archives in Ukraine has thousands of files on these missing Mennonites, and a newly announced University of Winnipeg Fellowship wants to crack into these archives to uncover the stories of lost relatives, ancestors and much more.

Mennonite diaspora encounters Muslims in the Russian Empire

Seth Ratzlaff, left, a student at Conrad Grebel University College, his father Victor, lay minister of Westview Christian Fellowship in St. Catharines, Ont., and Aileen Friesen, the J. Winfield Fretz Visiting Research Scholar in Mennonite Studies, discuss her ‘Muslim-Mennonite Encounters in the Russian Empire’ lecture on Jan. 25, 2018. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Aileen Friesen was the go-to person to help visitors order in Russian cafés at a scholarly gathering in Russia’s Far East, according to Marlene Epp, Conrad Grebel University College’s dean. Epp introduced Friesen as the inaugural J. Winfield Fretz Visiting Research Scholar in Mennonite Studies before Friesen’s lecture on ‘Muslim-Mennonite Encounters in the Russian Empire’ on Jan.

Subscribe to RSS - Ukraine