On Sunday evening, I heard over two dozen students and faculty members from the Jacobs School perform in our sanctuary; they were raising money for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. Close to one hundred people showed up–eager to process the conflict through music and to rally support for several causes. It was wonderful to see our sanctuary filled with so many people, and the performers played beautifully.

At the close of the program, a string quartet played the Ukrainian national anthem. An older couple stood when they heard it–a gesture that everyone in the audience followed. I glanced across the room and noticed a woman wearing a blue dress draped her shoulders with a bright yellow scarf like the Ukrainian flag. The audience didn’t know if we should clap when the anthem was over—we were more content to simply reflect (a moment of pause, as Rev. Jessica leads us to observe).

If you are moved to support humanitarian aid in Ukraine financially, here are some of the organizations the concert was raising money for:

Save the Children: assisting children and families with immediate aid, such as food, water, hygiene kits, psychosocial support and cash assistance (https://www.savethechildren.org/us/where-we-work/ukraine)

Sunflower of Peace: preparing first aid medical tactical backpacks for paramedics and doctors on the front lines (https://www.sunflowerofpeace.com)

Care – Ukraine Crisis Fund: providing food, water, hygiene kits, support services, and direct cash assistance (https://tinyurl.com/6m6ye2w7)

UNHCR: providing life-saving protection for families forced to leave their homes due to the conflict (https://tinyurl.com/yjadvaty)

Peace be with you all,

Samuel Grace (he/him)

Music Director, First United Church