Friends of Lithuania in Support of Peace and Ukraine

As we watch in horror over the war in Ukraine, pray for peace and support relief and aid work through UMCOR. We have “both congregations and mission partners on the ground in Ukraine, offering hope, support and aid in every way they can.” I am reminded of our sister church connection in Lithuania.

Back in the late 1990’s as UMCG undertook a $3.4 million dollar expansion, the church also committed to helping build a church in Lithuania as Protestant churches had received permission to start constructing churches after becoming independent of the Soviet Federation in 1990. Our church not only donated funds to the contribution of a United Methodist Church but sent several mission teams to Lithuania. The war in Ukraine is of great concern to all of Europe, especially the Baltic states. Included in this post are the minutes from a recent Friends of Lithuania Zoom call shared with me by Cindy Anast. Rob and Cindy Anast traveled to Lithuania five times to support our sister church connection. Please remember our sister church and all of Europe in our prayers for peace. As you can see in this post, right now the best we can do is to join our siblings in Christ around the world and in Lithuania in prayer and support of work through UMCOR.

Update March 12, 2022


Lithuania Methodist Church Begins Receiving Refugee Families – HOW YOU CAN HELP!

Dear Friends of Lithuania,
I first became aware of these words by Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer, and theologian, several years ago.  They made a huge impact on me then, but now, they absorb my mind as they bear incredible truth as we have the opportunity to walk alongside our sisters and brother in Lithuania as they take on the support of refugees.  Read on. . .
“When those with money and those who need money share a mission, we see a central sign of new life in the Spirit of Christ.  We belong together in our work because Jesus has brought us together, and our fruitfulness depends on staying connected with him.  Jesus tells us: ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).  With him, we can do anything because we know that God surrounds us with an abundance of blessings’.  Therefore, those who need money and those who can give money meet on the common ground of God’s love”.  Henri Nouwen

Those with money and those who need money share a mission.  WOW!  What simple, but powerful words.  As we all yearn to do something in this horrific time of war, our time is now that we can support our friends in Lithuania as they support their friends in Ukraine.  It is a time when, together, we can show God’s love through a compassionate response to the Ukrainian refugees coming to Lithuania.      

I have been in constant contact with Pastor Remigijus regarding the fluid situation in Lithuania with the arrival of refugees.  The Lithuania Methodist Church received its first family earlier this week and was scheduled to receive another family yesterday.  They are buying food and essential hygiene items and are assembling bags for the refugees coming into Lithuania.    They are working closely with the Lithuanian Government to follow the guidelines for receiving and registering refugees.   

Remigijus shared with me that he had a meal with the family that arrived earlier this week, ironically, communicating in Russian.   A mother, father, and their 12-year-old son, who has Downs Syndrome, spent 3 days traveling from Ukraine to Lithuania. The church was able to provide housing at the Catholic Guest House in Kaunas so the family could rest, shower and take a few days to find out where they will go.  It is possible they may be housed in the apartment in Šiauliai owned by the Methodist Church and then more support will be needed for this family. 

The Church Council for the Lithuania Methodist Church met this week to establish a response action plan for how they will help support refugees.  It is an impressive plan and we have an opportunity to be part of this plan by providing prayers, financial support, and other means that come available in the future.  The plan includes long and short-term shelter, being a source of information regarding resources, providing food, essential hygiene items, and other donations from church members, likely clothing, bedding, shoes, coats, etc.  Below you will read the crisis plan, and after that, will be information on how you can support our sister churches in Lithuania as they provide for Ukrainian refugees. 

LITHUANIA METHODIST CHURCH RESPONSE PLAN FOR UKRAINIAN REFUGEES
Methodist Church in Lithuania stands against aggression and stands for those who seek safe place and peaceful life, because the gift of life belongs to God who is Author and Creator of this World and of human being. 
Methodist Church has developed a plan of response and action to help refugees in Lithuania: 

Long and short-term stay for shelter
Methodists Church in Lithuania will provide a safe space at the church hold properties (two apartments for a long-term stay) in two towns Šiauliai and Pilviškiai town, where use to be active parsonages (still are). One apartment is now on reserve for one Ukrainian family in Šiauliai town. 
When refugees will come through Kaunas City or Kaunas region, Methodist Church will welcome and host them at Kaunas Guest House in old town near Methodist District Office. This stay is for short-term stay up to two or three nights until NGO’s and Lithuania Republic Government will help and provided with permanent place of stay. 

Churches in Lithuania made available space for short-term stay for shelter in these local churches:Pilviškiai, Kaunas, Panevėžys and Biržai. These local churches also have available kitchens and church people are ready to help and assist in receiving war refugees from Ukraine who are in transit way to other towns.         

Information for war refugees from Ukraine
Methodist Church will provide with all available information in four languages (Ukrainian, English, Russian and Lithuanian) with guidance and orientation to reach migration department in Kaunas City and in other towns. Information includes all most important addresses, phone numbers of most vital departments in crisis situation. This information has been passed on to all leaders and local churches in Lithuania. To some churches will be sending this week in printed version by regular post to be ready to hand it out to people. 

Information related to these areas: registration at migration department, health services, social insurance (Lithuania will provide free of charge) social insurance for each refugee (will be includes in system to receive medical care), simplified process for employment and job opportunities, psychological support, schooling for children and enrollment for students at Universities or colleges.

Food and other essential items supply
Methodist Church will provide with food bag for newly received refugees who will be arrive at any of local Churches. Food bag includes non-perishable food that can stay for a longer time. 

Hot food can be cooked or catered in the local church from trusted food suppliers when needed for sheltered refugees in the local church facilities. 

Essential items supplies will be provided for each refugee. Essential items supply packed includes like toothpaste, toothbrush, towel, wet or sanitizer napkins and other important items.      

Donations and support
Each local Church has been informed and encourage to set a particular time (Sunday or any other day when congregations gather for Worship Service) to collect donations for war refuges support.   

How to send and make donation transfer from abroad
The Methodist Church in Lithuania approves trusted ways of sending donations and support which include Global Ministries Advance, UMCOR, wiring money directly to the District Office or Red Cross.  

WAYS TO GIVE:
Global Ministries Advance #12168A Lithuania In Mission Together  For funds to be used for refugee support, you will need to designate “Support for Ukrainian Refugees” when you make your donation online or if you send a check.  When you designate in this way, you can be assured your gift will be used for the many ways that are listed in the plan above such as food for the non-perishable food bags they will distribute, items for the essential kit they will provide, food for providing meals at the church kitchens, overnight housing the first few nights they arrive, etc.   As with all gifts given through the Advance, 100% of your gift will be sent to the designation of your choice. 

ONLINE Giving through General Board of Global Ministries
Go to the website umcmission.org or click on this link and follow the steps:   https://advance.umcmission.org/p-201-lithuania-in-mission-together.aspx.  There will be a box where you can make your designation.  Simply type in:  Support for Ukrainian Refugees 

SENDING CHECK through General Board of Global Ministries
To designate your gift, write this in the memo line:   Advance # 12168A Support for Ukrainian Refugees   
Make check payable to:  ADVANCE GCFA.
Mail to: 
Advance GCFA
P.O. Box 9068
New York, NY 10087-9068       

BY PHONE 
Credit card gifts can be accepted by phone. Call Global Ministries toll free to make your gift: 800-862-4246.  To designate your gift, provide Advance # 12168A Support for Ukrainian Refugees.        

UMCOR – United Methodist Committee on Relief
UMCOR is the global humanitarian aid organization of the United Methodist Church.  A gift to UMCOR is not able to be designated, but it will be used as needed either for refugees inside or Ukraine or outside of Ukraine. For more information, click on this link:    https://umcmission.org/umcor/ukraine/ 

Direct support to the Methodist Church in Lithuania
You can wire money directly to the Methodist Church District Office in Lithuania.  There is a wire transfer fee associated with it that will be taken out of your gift.  Here is the information on how to wire directly:
Name: Lietuvos jungtinė metodistų bažnyčia
Address: J. Naugardo g. 8, Kaunas, Lietuva (Lithuania)
Identification code: 292059860
Account No.: LT70 7044 0600 0330 2076,
Bank name: AB SEB bankas
Bank address: Gedimino pr. 12, Vilnius, Lietuva
SWIFT code: CBVILT2X 

Red Cross
Link directly to Red Cross:  https://www.redcross.org/
Link to read about what the Red Cross is doing to support refugees:  www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2022/ukraine-red-cross-delivers-aid-to-families.html 

Henri Nouwen goes on to say that “even a seemingly small act of generosity can grow into something far beyond what we could ever ask or imagine.  When we give ourselves to planting and nurturing love here on earth, our efforts will reach out beyond our own chronological existence”.   Please join us as we navigate this journey together, trusting in the knowledge that God is with us as our guide and our anchor.       

Praying for peace,  

Rev. Remigjus Matulatis
District Superintendent Lithuania United Methodist Church                                                  +37063688901                                                                                
remailo@gmail.com 

Jeanie Kurka Reimer

“In Mission Together” Partnership Coordinator for Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia
Global Ministries/The United Methodist Church
jreimer@umcmission.org