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Call to Action: Working for Peace for Ukraine

As our Director of Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries, and with partners from across our denomination and world, I join with you in deepest prayers that the fullness of God, who is All Love, might overwhelm Russia's onslaught of violence.  Though I am unable to join you in person tonight (due to leading a meeting at this time in a national Welcoming conference for refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers), my heart joins with you in affirming that scriptures call us to remember we "are no longer strangers and aliens, but...are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19)

In an expression of that unity this week, our Disciples General Minister & President joined a joint statement through our Global Ministries regarding Ukraine, and said: "As a follower of Jesus Christ and a minister of the gospel, I must condemn this premeditated and unprovoked aggression and violence against the people of Ukraine....(which) stands in contradiction to the value of human life as well as principles of international law that deem the acquisition of territory by force illegal." - Rev. Terri Hord Owens (See the full statement at: https://www.globalministries.org/a-joint-statement-on-the-russian-invasion-of-ukraine/)

As members in our "common household" across our church, we must continue to support the humanitarian work of ACT Alliance partners--reaching those directly affected by the war in Ukraine--through Global Ministries, Week of Compassion, and Church World Service. We must also speak against anti-Blackness, even in this time of escape, as we have learned that many of the 20% of Ukrainian international students who are Black and African were not allowed to leave on trains for safety this week.  (CWS Financial Ukraine Appeal:  https://cwsglobal.org/appeals/ukraine-crisis-response-fund/ and WOC Financial Ukraine Appeal: https://www.weekofcompassion.org/stories/responding-in-ukraine)

Yet, we know we must do much more right where we are, not only by giving our financial support, but by using our voices and bodies. Decades long farmworker rights Dolores Huerta reminds us--as she said she has always taught farmworkers--that "the power is in our body."

We must use our bodies to respond to the traumas being inflicted upon the bodies of families--especially women and children--seeking immediate escape from war in Ukraine. We have seen these numbers swell from 1/2 million last weekend, to 1 million by mid-week, and to 1 1/2 million as of today.  We anticipate the total could go as high as 4 million or more Ukrainian refugees--as persons are fleeing at a pace the UNHCR calls perhaps the most rapid human exodus in 40 years.  As most are being received now in Poland and surrounding nations, our partners are in great need of support. 

Therefore, we must use our bodies and faith voices as faith communities to contact our legislators with these key messages (which you can find to email and call at: https://bit.ly/CWSUkraineAlert)
*Provide funding for humanitarian and displacement assistance and support UNHCR's emergency response efforts;
*Assist NGOs in Ukraine and neighboring countries that are helping internally displaced individuals or individuals seeking asylum in Ukraine and host countries;
*Ensure swift processing of pending refugee applications for Ukrainians, and non-Ukrainians who had been in Ukraine, at all processing locations.  Also,
*Thank the administration for answering our call last week to designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukrainians already in the US, and continue to ask for Special Student Relief (SSR) to protect Ukrainian international students among us

Though we do not yet know when or how many Ukrainians might be allowed to eventually resettle in the U.S. as refugees, we can anticipate that day will likely come.  Indeed, welcoming Ukrainian refugees in the US is not new--as many entered the US as refugees in recent decades due to religious persecution as Christians and Jews.  In my personal life, these connections--as fellow staff members and faith partners whose Ukrainian choir even sang at my wedding!--have been deeply inspiring, and make today's heartbreak even more profound.  

Yet until then, let us continue to use our bodies and voices as our power to advocate for Ukrainians globally and already among us!  Let us continue our welcoming work right here in the DMV to receive our brave Afghan allies and friends!  Let us urge they be protected by immediate passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act (https://bit.ly/AfghanAdjActAlert)!  And let us ensure protections are likewise offered to Black immigrants--and keep calling for TPS protections for Cameroonians, Haitians, and other Black migrants, which we have been asking for over YEARS! (https://bit.ly/BlackMigrantsAlert)

Blessings to you!
Sharon
Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries (RIM)
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. & Canada
202-957-7826 (cell), sstanley@dhm.disciples.org, 5 Thomas Circle NW, Washington, DC  20005
(2nd floor, National City Christian Church)
Web: www.bit.ly/DisciplesRIM, Facebook: www.bit.ly/RIMFacebook
Twitter: @StanleyRea

(posted March 7, 2022)

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