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Message from the Minister

Message in Response to Ukrainian Invasion from Rev. Pat Trudeau - Feb 26, 2022

This has been a particularly tense and trying week as many of us wonder how to respond to the hostile invasion of the Ukraine. Our hearts are broken and our minds reel as we as we witness the escalating violence imposed by the Russian military under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. We find ourselves unable to fathom how this will all end.

My first response was denial. On Tuesday, I thought this could not happen despite all evidence to the contrary. When news of the invasion broke on Wednesday evening and throughout the day on Thursday, I felt numb. There was nothing to be done and prayers for peace seemed premature.

By Friday, I was searching the Internet for wisdom from various faith groups around the world. All were heartfelt. Many called upon God and the Savior and invoked Scripture. Some called for inner peace that might radiate out into the world. Some expressed condemnation this act of war and empathy for the Ukrainian people in Ukraine and around the world.

I grew restless looking for a message with teeth. Reflections and prayers just weren’t enough. I wanted nothing short of the outrage. I found some of what I needed in the message from the Methodist Presidency, “We are horrified and heartbroken as we witness the violent assault on Ukraine by the Russian military. This devastating action and ensuing loss of life have rightly been condemned across the world. It is a clear violation of the UN Charter and as such imperils the foundation upon which international security is built and on which we all depend.” The message resonated with the indignation rising in my chest.

I also looked for responses from my own Unitarian Universalist faith in opposing attacks on innocent civilians by powers claiming to be protectors? I certainly understand that statements of conscience in response to injustice take time. They must be carefully considered and approved. I have faith that our UU organizations will present thoughtful and strong responses. In the meantime, there is nothing preventing the Unitarian Fellowship of Northwest Toronto from constructing our own response to post on the website.

This week, I was inspired by one story I was able to find online about a UU response in the wake of the invasion. A vigil was organized by the UU Congregation at Montclair. In response to the concerns of one congregant, the co-minister, Reverend Anya Sammler-Michael, reached out and invited local residents to gather at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Thursday evening for a peace vigil. The event began indoors with words of solidarity for the Ukrainian people interspersed with music and song, and was followed by an outdoor candlelight vigil.

It was reported in the local news that nearly 100 people attended. The event was hosted by the co-ministers and life partners, Reverends Scott and Anya Sammler-Michael along with members of the Montclair African-American Clergy Association and Interfaith Clergy Association. Cantor Meredith Greenberg of Temple Ner Tamid lead songs. You can watch the Service on YouTube  and the vigil.

In the weeks and months to come, my hope is that members and friends of the Unitarian Fellowship of Northwest Toronto will find ways to reach out to the Ukrainian communities near us. A simple response may be to share with our Ukrainian friends and neighbours words of both compassion and outrage. ми піклуємося (We are witnesses) ми піклуємося (We care)

Yours in peace,

Rev. Pat Trudeau, Minister (she /her), the Unitarian Fellowship of Northwest Toronto