Magazines 2023 Jul - Aug Canadian church leaders expand perspectives on spiritual backdrop of the conflict in Ukraine

Canadian church leaders expand perspectives on spiritual backdrop of the conflict in Ukraine

19 July 2023 By Joel Zantingh and Phil Wagler

Turning complex questions into action requires hope and a good process.

How can we foster shared understanding and action? This was the question being considered 13 months ago by a small group representing the World Evangelical Alliance’s Peace & Reconciliation Network, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and the Canadian Council of Churches.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spawned a catastrophe with wide-reaching consequences, and many Canadians responded generously to the resulting migration, these Christian leaders sensed a nudge to expand the circle.

Good work had already been undertaken in prayer and humanitarian response. But as the total of Ukrainians approved for emergency travel to Canada since March 2022 has now surpassed 800,000 and continues to rise, it has also become clear more is needed to equip the Church to respond.

Through canvassing what had been done, this group discerned a significant need for more purposeful and discerning conversations, which could lead to shared understanding and perhaps to action. Canadian Christians need to address a series of questions together, in all their complexity.

  • How should the various parts of the Christian Church in Canada work together to love, serve and encourage the growing Ukrainian diaspora in our country?
  • What do we need to hear from Ukrainian Christians in Canada about the war, rather than simply relying on our daily news cycles?
  • How might Canadian Christians advocate well for suffering people, and for an end to violence?

These first small steps of curiosity led to a significant breakthrough. A series of Ukraine, Canada and the Church sessions has brought Canadian Christian denomination and organization leaders together with Ukrainian Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant leaders to listen, lament, learn and discern.

What follows here is a first-hand reflection on the first session of June 21, 2023, focused on the historical and religious context of the war that continues to escalate.

Download this reflection by Bobette Emilienne Jansen of Saint Paul University

As you read this five-page PDF, ask how God might be opening your perspective a little wider, inviting you to pray with fresh faith and encouraging you to take additional steps to support spiritual and diplomatic efforts to speak hopefully and act discerningly as outsiders to a conflict that is more complex than many of us understand.

“Ukraine, Canada and the Church” reconvenes on July 25.

Peace and Reconciliation Network logoJoel Zantingh of Guelph, Ont., is Canadian coordinator of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Peace & Reconciliation Network (and is also director of engagement for Lausanne Movement Canada). Phil Wagler of Kelowna, B.C., is global director of the PRN (and also global liaison for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada). The PRN can do its work through the generosity of donors like you. Connect with the PRN or donate. Invite Joel Zantingh or Phil Wagler as a speaker. Arrows image by Freepik. Read more of these blog posts at