Congregations bring hope and aid to Ukrainians

  • Niki Clark
  • May 11, 2022

The scenes coming out of Ukraine since the start of the war in late February have deeply moved countless people from around the world. Images of Ukrainians fleeing by foot, car or train, children and belongings in tow. Videos of Ukrainians sheltering in underground Metro stations, community theaters and steel plants to escape shelling from heavy artillery, rockets and airstrikes.

Two small congregations with an immense impact

Nelsonville Lutheran Church seems worlds away from this crisis. Based in a town with just 200 residents in rural Wisconsin, the congregation has just 50 regularly attending parishioners, the oldest of which is 109.

But what they lack in size they make up in impact. Nelsonville Lutheran, along with Peace Lutheran Church of Amherst—both of the Tomorrow River Parish—provided the initial funds for our Ukraine gift match. To date, the match, supported by your generous hearts, has inspired millions of dollars of giving from congregations and individuals.

The churches have a history of turning their faith into action for those in need, generously giving to initiatives supporting world hunger, disaster relief and refugees. Pastor Dwight Anderson, who has co-led Nelsonville Lutheran with his wife, Pastor Gretchen Anderson, for the last 25 years, said it's simply "in the congregation's DNA."

"This is who they are," Pastor Dwight said. "They firmly believe in the piety that to whom much is given much is required."

How your support is helping Ukrainians in crisis

The match, which included gifts from congregations across the country, is being used entirely to reach those directly impacted by the war in Ukraine. Your love is supporting health facilities in Ukraine with medical supplies and equipment. It is providing ongoing support to six facilities used to shelter displaced neighbors in Ukraine. Your generosity is bringing emergency cash and vouchers for Ukrainian refugees in Poland and protecting the most vulnerable from sexual exploitation and abuse. It's providing ongoing support for the Evangelical-Augsburg Church of St. Martin in Krakow, Poland, which has established a hostel for Ukrainian women and children. And your gifts are surrounding our neighbors in Ukraine with warmth and comfort through LWR Mission Quilts and Kits.

We are grateful for your generous response

We're so grateful for the generous and faithful leadership of The Tomorrow River Lutheran Parish and for Pastors Dwight and Gretchen Anderson. And we are grateful for you, for your incredible response and action. You have answered God's call to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry and care for the sick. On behalf of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, we thank you for using your blessings to bless others.

Needs are growing across the globe

While our hearts are overwhelmed by the response from congregations like yours, the needs are still growing, and the situation remains dire. Ripple effects such as the rising costs of food and fuel are extending even more pain to the most vulnerable far from Ukraine's borders, such as families in South Sudan, the Sahel and Yemen. Please continue to support our neighbors in Christ through your gifts and prayers. Until your love reaches every neighbor.

Read more about Lutheran World Relief’s response to Ukraine's war here.

Niki Clark, May 11, 2022 email