On May 7th, Bishop of GELCU Pavlo Shvarts and Synod President Alexander Gross took part in “Berlin Day of Praying”. This online event was organized by the Society for Gospel Propagation (Gesellschaft zur Ausbreitung des Evangeliums, GAE).
Pastor Gross spoke about the beginning of the war and the problems of Odessa region communities, about the situation in the congregation of Zmievka village, which is currently occupied by Russian troops, and also about the humanitarian situation in the South-West of Ukraine. The situation concerns the refugees from Kherson region and the threat of self-proclaimed Transnistrian Republic attack. The Church responded to the challenges by assisting hundreds of people in Odessa and the villages where GELCU congregations work. It helps hosting refugees at the St. Paul Church Center and providing them with work and housing in Petrodolinskoe.
Bishop Pavlo Shvarts mentioned in his report about the situation in other communities, particularly in Berdyansk, and the whole Church in. He also paid particular attention to the situation in Kharkiv and its almost destroyed northern regions. He said that the rest 800 thousand habitants of the city need both material and spiritual support. All of that encouraged different Christian churches to cooperate in close partnership, because it started not suddenly, but eight years ago, when Russia invaded Ukraine and made the churches to reconsider their theology. During a speech, Pavel Schwartz criticized the naive pacifism of many Christians:
“The war in Ukraine did not start in February of this year – but in far 2014. Since then, the vast majority of Ukrainian Protestants reduced their pacifist views. The experience of being under shelling and in occupation changes purely theoretical views of the world. Therefore, we constantly emphasize that we do not need peace at any cost.
Not counting the shelling, military events and humanitarian problems, the most difficult thing to accept was the strange messages from the churches of the east from Ukraine, as well as from some brothers and sisters from the West They said that Ukraine should surrender and subordinate to Russia. It was also difficult to perceive such specific “concern” of Christians in Western Europe. They said that in case Ukraine reduces getting weapons, it will reduce the number of victims.
From our point of view, it sounds tragic and cynical, because people forget about shelling or horrors of Russian occupation, the same as religious persecution in the Russian Federation and the occupied territories. It is difficult to understand that believers forget about the Soviet Union, when our Church was banned on the territory of Ukraine.
We do not want that, because Christian freedom is important to us. Therefore, we pray for our country, support our defenders and our army. It is work of the vast majority of Christian denominations. We are sure that it is a Christian call – to love people, and to have the courage to talk about sin even in such a difficult time”.
Other speakers at “Berlin Day of Praying” included GAE President Bill Holler, Ukrainian Consul in Munich Dmitry Shevchenko, General Secretary of the Missionary Council Andreas Mud, German Evangelical Alliance representative in the Bundestag Uwe Heimowski, pastor and musician Heiko Breuning, theologian Philip Kirill, Prince of Prussia, GAE curator Sister Teresa Zukic, and Tatyana Aristarkhova, a Ukrainian women rom Kharkiv who now lives in Germany.
Videos with prayiers and speeches of participants (in German) were uploaded on Bill Holler’s YouTube channel.