Approaching Holy Week, an Update on Aiding Ukranian Refugees

Approaching Holy Week, an Update on Aiding Ukranian Refugees

The following is an update from the Rev. Kazimierz Bem, pastor of the First Church in Marlborough, MA, and a native of Poland. (More on his church's fundraising efforts here.)
Dear Friends & friendly Churches,
It is hard not to think about our sisters and brothers in Ukraine, especially in the light of the atrocities we have seen this past week. I hope you all continue to pray for peace in that area of the world, as well as for healing and light to all who have lost their loved ones in this war.  The number of refugees from Ukraine in Poland has surpassed 2.6 million and is approaching 8% of Poland’s population. While some have made the decision to return – others are pouring in, overwhelmingly they are women and children. Polish schools have added over 700 000 children in the past month to their numbers. As Holy Week draws near, and Palm Sunday is around the corner I thought I would give you another update on the work supported by the Lutheran Diakonia in Poland thanks to your generosity.
  • The shelter for women and children in the Lutheran & Reformed congregation in Cracow is running. The 40+ guests are housed, fed, and kept in warmth thanks (amongst others) to you.
  • In the Polish “Bible Belt” southeast of Cracow, the Lutheran congregation of Drogomyśl has turned all their commercial guest rooms & youth rooms into guest rooms for 13 refugees. The old manse is being adapted too, and a couple of families were taken in by congregation members. Also, thanks to our support, a mother and her 5 children have been able to move in into the congregation owned apartment and begin to settle down in their new home.
  • The two-point charge Lutheran congregation of Radom and Kielce (around 100 members) in the east has opened up their church halls for refugees. It will house ca. 10 refugees.
  • The small Lutheran congregation in Giżycko, in the Northeast of Poland has offered its only guestroom to a refugee mother with a child.
  • Even the German minority in Poland joined in: their small 80 member St. Christoffer Lutheran congregation in Wrocław is housing a few refugee families in their manse and guest room. The Polish-speaking congregation of God’s Providence in town is also working with dozens of refugees on a regular basis.
  • Humanitarian transports are being sent to Ukraine all the time with personal hygiene products, basic medication, and food.
If my unofficial count is correct, these congregations are now housing over 900 refugees if not more. Help is given to all regardless of their race, religion (or lack thereof), gender or sexual orientation.
Again, as you are holding Palm Sunday and Easter collections – please, please, please consider supporting our efforts. So far, we have 31 UCC congregations, mainly from New England, who have participated. We also have had individual, generous donors. To all of you: Thank you!  Together we have raised $50,000 (we wired $20,000) but I am told to look out for more checks in the coming two weeks. I will be visiting my family in Poland after Easter and will talk with some of those pastors in person and share their news with you. We hope to identify 5-6 most active congregations and wire them & Diakonia the money collected as an Easter-tide gift in the first week of May. With the forecasts of an impending battle in the South of Ukraine I am afraid the need for your caritas (love of humanity) will not diminish. This help is for the long-haul. Do not hesitate to email me with any questions you may have.
So please, if you can donate to our common effort, there is a link below or send checks to First Church in Marlborough, 37 High Street, MA 01752 – always with “Ukraine Relief” in the memo line.  God bless all of you who have donated – your contributions make a difference!
May you all have a blessed Holy Week and Easter!
Yours in deep gratitude
Pastor Kaz
Participating UCC congregations (*signifies ones that joined since the last email update):
South Glastonbury Congregational Church, CT.
South Congregational Church, East Hartford, CT
Milton Congregational, Litchfield, CT
Shalom UCC, New Haven CT
United Church on the Green, New Haven CT
United Congregational Church of Westerly UCC, CT
First Church of Christ Congregational, Bedford, MA*
First Congregational Church of Brimfield, MA
Old South Church, Boston, MA
Second Congregational Church, Boxford, MA
United Parish of Craver, Carver, MA*
First Congregational Church of Chelsea, MA
Groveland Congregational Church, Groveland, MA
Pilgrim Congregational Church in Harwich Port, MA
Pilgrim Congregational Church, Lexington, MA
First Church in Marlborough (Congregational) UCC, MA
Elliott Congregational Church, Natick, MA*
First Congregational Church in Needham, MA
First Congregational Church of Saugus, MA
First Congregational Church of Sheffield, MA
First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury, MA
Vaquoit Congregational Church, Vaquoit Village, MA*
First Congregational Church of West Boylston, MA
Old South Union Church UCC, Weymouth, MA*
Village Congregational Church, Whitinsville, MA
Foreside Community Church, Falmouth, ME
Presque Isle Congregational Church, UCC, Presque Island, ME
Congregational Church of Sandy Point, Sandy Point, ME
United Congregational of Little Compton, RI
Richmond Congregational Church, VT
First Congregational Church of Huston, TX
First Congregational Church of Griswold, Jewett City CT*



Kaz J. Bem

The Rev. Kazimierz Bem is the Pastor of the First Church in Marlborough (Congregational). 

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