Dearest friends in Christ,
Greetings and peace to you from Kyiv, and the ministry of the United Methodist Church in Ukraine. We pray that you are well, and that the beginning of the summer season in your family and community has been blessed.
It’s been a busy week and a significant few months for our ministries here in Kyiv. First, a word about this past week. Today
marked the end of a week-long Bible camp for children, sponsored by the congregation of St. Luke’s UMC in Kyiv. This ministry was a significant event in the life of our local church—it was the first children’s camp fully envisioned, organized, and carried out by the indigenous Methodist clergy and lay leaders of Kyiv. The theme of the week was the simple yet profound message from 1 Corinthians 13: “Have faith, hope, and love.”
And what a week it was! On Monday, the first day of the camp, expectations were modest. We had hoped that five or six of the neighborhood children who attend St. Luke’s Sunday School program would take part in the camp, and we were pleased to see about that number show up on Monday morning. The day was full with a variety of activities prepared by Pastor Ruslan and his wife Zhenya—Bible study and reflection, singing, making crafts, learning English, and playing board and table games, all in an atmosphere of love and joy.
At the end of a long and sweaty day, the children said goodbye and promised to return on Tuesday—and they did, along with their friends. By Wednesday, we had 15 children enrolled in the camp, and on Friday, more than 25 kids and their parents took part in our final activities and closing ceremony!
In speaking about his hopes for this camp a few weeks ago, Pastor Ruslan said he prayed that by gathering the Sunday School children together for a week of Bible lessons and activities, he might lay the groundwork for doing future evangelization in the community. But as it turned out, the camp itself became an act of evangelization. And in this case, the evangelists were our children! Monday’s campers went home and told their neighbors that something fun was happening at the local church, and brought a friend with them on Tuesday. Tuesday’s campers went home and did the same thing…and on and on, until our center was full of kids and their parents for the closing worship on Friday. Imagine the scene—children evangelizing to other children, bringing their friends to church for worship, study, fellowship, and fun. This is what we witnessed this past week here at St. Luke’s UMC in Kyiv. Thanks be to God!
The faithful ministry of the pastor and lay leaders of St. Luke’s is a witness to another exciting change taking place within the United Methodist Church in Kyiv. In recent years, the presence and witness of the UMC in Ukraine has grown in size and strength, and has laid a foundation to further develop its ministry in Kyiv. To that end, the bishop and leadership of the UMC in Ukraine have decided to convert and expand the existing Family Center ministry into a new Methodist Church Center. Leadership for this new Church Center will be provided by the Ukrainian pastors and lay delegates of the two UMC congregations in Kyiv, with my continued involvement and support. This new leadership team will be responsible for all aspects of the Church Center, including project development, resource allocation, and fundraising.
The ministry of the new Methodist Church Center in Kyiv is intended to be holistic. The core programs of the existing Family Center ministry—afterschool assistance to school children in vulnerable situations, and an ongoing ministry of healing with former street children—will continue in the new Church Center.
In addition, the Church Center leadership team will place a renewed focus on evangelization, community outreach, and church growth.
We view this transition as a necessary and positive step towards establishing a true church in Ukraine, one that thrives under indigenous leadership offering holistic ministry in the Wesleyan tradition.
For now, let me thank you for your continued prayerful support for me, my mission service in Kyiv, and my sisters and brothers of the United Methodist Church in Ukraine.
I wish you a joyful summer, and all God’s blessings!
Yours in Christ,