UU MINISTERS on Ukraine and how to help

A joint statement about Ukraine — and our Unitarian kin in neighboring Transylvania — from a group of UU ministers who bonded with Unitarian Transylvanian colleagues on pilgrimage in 2018, with suggestions for how to help.
March 4, 2022
Dear Unitarian Universalist colleagues in North America,
Did you know that the Carpathian mountain range in Ukraine continues on into the Transylvanian region? These very same mountains were the site of a 2018 gathering when nine of us Unitarian Universalist ministers from North America gathered with Unitarian colleagues in Transylvania for retreat and partnership building.… just a half day’s drive from the Ukrainian border. On our way to the joint retreat we saw military bases, operated by other nations, which might be used in case of a conflict with Russia.
We are writing this letter to you to encourage you as congregational and community leaders to educate fellow Unitarian Universalists about the impact of the current war. Many people are wondering what they can do. Here are some ways of helping that have come to our attention:
* Both Ukrainians and colleagues in Romania have recommended donating to Ukraine Caritas; North Americans can do so at this link (https://www.caritas.org/ukraine-appeal-22/…), and use the currency drop-down to choose US dollars.
* The UU Service Committee lifts up several trustworthy NGOs to whom we can lend our support – scroll down from here (https://www.uusc.org/…/we-demand-an-end-to-the…/) for links to helping organizations as well as UUSC’s human rights perspective on Russia’s invasion.
* Another way people can help is by giving to the Faithify campaign (https://www.faithify.org/…/Support-Families-Fleeing-War…) set up by the International Convocation of UU Women – it will provide immediate aid (transportation, shelter, food, supplies, counseling) to families fleeing war in Ukraine through the Hungarian Unitarian Church.
Let us never forget the vulnerable people in any population who suffer most in war: the elderly, the infirm, children, the poor, those already marginalized, those who have trouble making their voices heard. People in Eastern Europe have for centuries been subject to wars made by others, as empires battle over their rich mountainous mineral resources and agricultural fertility.
As we learned on our pilgrimage there, many of our Unitarian cousins and their ancestors in Transylvania have lived through such strife, and have spent the last century as double minorities – ethnically as Hungarians in Romania and religiously as Unitarians. Generations may carry in their bodies the fear and disempowerment of cultural loss and political violence, since the Transylvanian region shifted from Hungary’s domain to Russian occupation, then forty years under the brutal Communist regime of Ceaucescu. After his overthrow, Romania’s fledgling democracy began with free elections barely thirty years ago, in 1990. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might be expected to touch deep historical trauma for our Unitarian cousins in Transylvania and other parts of Europe. If your congregation has a partner church relationship – or some other tie – with Unitarians in Transylvania, you can reach out to offer your care and solidarity.
We are a people of “deeds not creeds;” a people who affirm the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all; a people who have long believed that we can help to bend the arc of the universe toward justice and love. So we know that Unitarian Universalists in North America will want to act not only through our prayers and private support for besieged Ukrainians – and for frightened people in other parts of the former Soviet empire, like many of our Unitarian friends in Eastern Europe – but through tangible actions of support.
Thank you for helping Unitarian Universalists in your area to understand the historical and cultural context we note, and for helping them to act on our shared values in concrete ways.
Rev. Alexandra McGee (Chaplain, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, VA, USA)
Rev. Shari Woodbury (Minister, First Unitarian Church of Omaha, NE, USA)
Rev. Roger Bertschausen (Interim Minister, White Bear UU Church in Mahtomedi, MN, USA)
Rev. Dr. Kelly Murphy Mason (UU Community Minister & Spiritual Director)
Rev. Margaret Weis (UU Community Minister)
Rev. Paul Beedle (Minister, First UU Church of New Orleans, LA, USA)
Rev. Debra Faulk (Minister Emerita, Calgary Unitarians, AB, CAN)
Rev. Claudia Elferdink (Retired Minister, Silver City, NM, USA)
Rev. Darrick Jackson (Director of Ministries for Lifelong Learning, UU Ministers Association, USA)
All nine participants in the UUMA Torda450 Pilgrimage and Joint Retreat with members of the Ministers Association of the Hungarian Unitarian Church (in 2018)