Today, February 24, marks a year since the invasion of Ukraine and the start of a war that has brought huge loss of life and dispersed millions of people; bringing great upheaval across Europe.
To mark the solemn moment, The Church of England in Lancashire has pledged to hold a weekend of prayer and fasting from Friday to Sunday, February 24-26. Parishes in the Diocese are being encouraged to get involved and the mark the event collectively and in individual prayer.
Meanwhile, this morning at the first of a series of five Clergy Study Days planned for the coming weeks around the Diocese (this one held at St Thomas’ Lancaster) clergy from across Lancashire also stopped to join the rest of the country in one minute’s silence for Ukraine at 11am.
The weekend of prayer and fasting has been promoted for several weeks across all Diocesan communications channels. This includes a special page here in the events section of the Diocesan website where parishes can find links to a huge range of resources; including an order of Evening Prayer produced in our Diocese for download with a focus on Ukraine and specifically for peace.
We have also partnered with friends such as the Disasters Emergency Committee; the Church Urban Fund; the Diocese of Europe and Christian Aid in the build-up to the weekend.
Christian Aid is encouraging participation across the country via prayer events to mark the anniversary. You will find their information and resources to engage with and download here and also here. Meanwhile, the Diocese of Europe has also been sharing a series of videos on the run up to the anniversary with accompanying news stories.
The videos, available via a YouTube playlist here, tell stories from projects which the funds from their appeal (still ongoing see below) have gone to support. Our churches here in Lancashire are also being encouraged to show them at church services, if they can, as a way of reflecting on Ukraine at this time.
Writing recently to the Diocese to encourage involvement, Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Blackburn-designate, said: "Whilst the return of war to Europe brought deep shock and sadness we have also been moved and blessed by having many Ukrainians move into the county.
"Over the weekend of 24-26 February, Bishop Jill and I invite you to set aside specific times for prayer and fasting for the people of Ukraine and specifically for a peaceful and just end to the war.
“In situations such as this, peace seems so far out of our grasp that it appears impossible, but we remember that we approach a God for whom nothing is impossible and that His peace passes our understanding.”
Captions for photos top to bottom:
The Ukrainian flag flies high after a year of suffering
Clergy at the Clergy Study Day in Lancaster stand today at 11am for a minute’s silence and prayer