Reverend Michael Kirkland considers himself Ukrainian, not by blood but by spiritual heritage.
The Orthodox priest was ordained by Ukrainian refugees and now leads St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church in New Albany.
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His spiritual heritage, the war between Russia and Ukraine, and the fact that Orthodox Easter, Pascha, takes place around the same time as Judaism’s Passover are the reasons Kirkland wanted to do something for the people of Ukraine. .
So he considered what he knew best: prayer.
So at 4 p.m. on Easter Sunday, Kirkland is holding a prayer service for Ukrainians at Holy Resurrection Church, 4611 Glenmawr Ave, on the northeast side of Columbus.
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Many Ukrainians, about 69%, identify as Orthodox Christians, according to the Religious Data Archive Association (ARDA).
“We want to let it be known that we stand firm,” he said. “God is going to do a miracle for our people. It’s in God’s hands.”
As of Tuesday, around 2,104 civilians in Ukraine had been killed and 2,862 injured since Russia invaded the country on February 24, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
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As Kirkland watched the news stories about the war in Ukraine — and the people fighting for their lives — he felt called to do something.
“We have to take a stand, we have to do something,” he said. “If we can help others in any way, that’s what we’ll do.”
Saint-Nicolas has no building; instead, about six people gather every Sunday in a small chapel in Kirkland’s garage for services.
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But Kirkland hopes many more will gather at Holy Resurrection, a local Orthodox church that Kirkland has worked with in the past, for the Sunday prayer service. He plans to pray for peace in Ukraine and an end to the war, he said.
For “those who live, who fled, who suffer now. We will pray for the families here”.
There will also be refreshments, the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem, prayers in the Ukrainian language, a Ukrainian cake made by his wife and an Easter celebration.
Orthodox Easter is a big event for Orthodox Christians. It usually falls on a different date to the Protestant and Catholic Easter celebrations, April 17 this year, as it is based on the Julian calendar – not the more widely used Gregorian calendar.
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According to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Prayer and intercession with saints are important in the lives of Ukrainian Christians, Kirkland said.
Marianne Klochko, president of the Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio, took a personal look at prayer and her religion during this time. The Powell resident has friends and family in Ukraine and is frustrated with what she sees as a lack of action by the United States and world leaders regarding the war.
She said the group had seen an outpouring of support since the war began more than 50 days ago.
“The church community is very helpful,” said Klochko, who attends a local Orthodox church. “There is certainly a power of people coming together and praying for a common cause.”
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There’s a lot of intercessory prayer, Klochko said.
“Sometimes all that remains is to pray and hope that the transgressors will be punished and there will be peace and some kind of higher power will intercede,” she said.
Although Klochko is relying on her faith right now, she said the larger situation with the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church is unfortunate and frustrating.
In Russia, a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, supported the war and Russia, which put Ukrainian Orthodox Christians at odds with the Church.
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“There have been calls for excommunication from the Russian Orthodox Church or at least from the leader, Kirill, and even from other Russian priests,” Klochko said. “What he is doing, supporting war, is a very anti-Christian thing. Calling for death, calling for destruction is the opposite of what Christians should stand for.”
After more than 50 days of war, Klochko knows people feel tired when it comes to seeing the news and supporting people in Ukraine, but she wants to remind people that the war is not over.
Kirkland hopes people will attend the prayer service on Sunday to take the time to do something for others while enjoying their own safety and blessings.
“We are all still God’s people,” he said. “There’s a lot to pray for. You can’t pray enough for what’s going on.”