,

Update from Odessa

Update from Rev. Andrei Ziltsov. Odessa

Dear friends!
Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

Easter this year was a very essential experience! The seriousness of Holy Week was felt much more clearly than usual, especially during the daily Gospel work and the common reading of the Gospel texts at the hour of the death of the cross in front of the altar. And the real miracle was that the joy of Easter is a reality that no war can stand in the way of. The joy was quiet and tender, but very clear and deep, and also the hope for the future was and is really present. Despite that everything else is also present.  Of course, without any confidence that tomorrow something will change radically, but everything will already have a meaning. And the hope that from the graves of souls a new future can rise.

On Easter Sunday we had a human consecration ceremony at 7:30 in Ukrainian and then again at 10:00 in Russian. The first time was due to curfew, which lasted until 6:00 am, and we wanted to give people a chance to arrive on time. At 11 o’clock we could even celebrate a Sunday act with 4 children and afterward, as it is proper, enjoy a festive table. On that day, many people who had not been in the community for a while came to the ceremonies and I was surprised that, despite the fact that many had fled, we had a total of forty “feast-guests” together.

Today is the 62nd day of the war. The events in Ukraine are more and more localized to the east and south, and by south we mean not only Mariupol and Melitopol but also Kherson, Nikolayev, and Odessa. After the sinking of the armored cruiser “Moskva” two weeks ago, the situation in Odessa had become somewhat more relaxed for a few days, although hardly a day or night passed without air alarms or explosions.  And life in the city had become a lot more lively: quite a few people had returned, some cafes were and are open and even some activity can be seen on some construction sites. I was even able to visit a hair salon on my birthday! And then it came again last Saturday: the whizzing of an anti-aircraft missile right over the community center, explosions in town, and the burning of an apartment building three kilometers from us. In the meantime, we had in the house two confirmands, who stayed in Odessa with their parents all the time, and some helpers. The matter especially upset the children but did not prevent them to go for a walk after an hour. And even the task: to find something that gives joy and strength to the soul, – was brilliantly fulfilled. The children enthusiastically told about the grass… and flowers… and even a little lamb. In this way, we prepared for confirmation this year. And on Sunday Dasha and Lola wished that at the confirmation some unoccupied chairs in their row be put down, so that in this way we could include all the other children who belong to the group and are now in Germany, Poland, Spain, and elsewhere. And there it came again: the true Easter spiritual reality: quietly, but surely and inexorably. The feast was a real one and afterward, we could play boisterously and greet the now confirmed young people.
Otherwise, we are in contact with friends in Eastern and Western Ukraine. We offer to move to Odessa to people who are in a worse situation, and it is wonderful to see how Waldorf-anthroposophical life in the west of the country is inspired and blossoms by Waldorf teachers who have come from Kyiv, Dnjepr, and Odessa.

On the streets of the city or in the supermarkets warm short conversations arise with unknown people because everyone is much more open and helpful than usual. It is strange how this exists together, as if in parallel worlds: Attacking troops, who are about 170 km away from Odessa and are constantly shelling the neighboring city of Nikolaev from some “Grad”, “Igla” and whatever the stuff is called; the permanent missile danger from the air in Odessa and the “almost-normal-looking” life in many spots in our city.

The Odessa parish continues to carry the daily rhythm of consecration acts, alternately in Ukrainian and Russian. There are quite a few people from the parish active as volunteers, always doing or collecting something for the refugees or for the army.

We were even able to celebrate a baptism about two weeks ago. Because the godmother came to Odessa for three days and the family wanted to use the opportunity to “give the child a godsend”. It was necessary to quickly look for another godfather, because the “old” one supported the fact of war from the side of the aggressors, if not outwardly, but inwardly. The preparation was fast and turbulent, but at last, we were all allowed to congratulate the happy Vasilisa and her family.

During Holy Week I decided to record daily video sermons. A new experience – to speak blindly “in front of no one”. My wife is teaching two eurythmy students “live” in the parish hall and many others are online 4 days a week. As fate would have it, on the first day of the war – February 24 – I was supposed/allowed to give an online lecture in Forum 3 about Ukraine, later also some talks and interviews with friends in the West. Now it is to go online to the proseminar east to Moscow from 6 to 9 May. During my last visit to Russia, we agreed with Annushka that we should start it there as well. Now more than a dozen students are registered and we don’t want to cancel it either. Am curious!!!

Otherwise, besides the church’s everyday life, I work in the Ukrainian anthroposophical Sophia Foundation. Thanks to many donations from Europe, we have already been able to provide 400 individuals and families with emergency aid. Soon we want to have a flyer printed to appeal for donations in Europe. If any of you can help with printing and distributing flyers as widely as possible in the anthroposophical institutions and foundations, please contact me (or use admin@thechristiancommunity.org)

In this spirit, I greet/hug you all warmly from Odessa and look forward to seeing you again.

Yours, Andrei Ziltsov.
Odessa. 26.04.22

Note: Original available here.

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Update from Rev. Tatiana Nechytailo, Ukraine

Update from Rev. Tatiana Nechytailo, Ukraine

Dear friends,

First of all I want to thank all of you who keep writing, asking, helping and praying with and for us. At the moment, life is happening completely in the present. There are no plans in the conventional sense. On one day, when I thought that it was no longer dangerous Kyiv was bombed again. Again, houses in the city center were hit, again there were dead. For us humans it is important to be able to plan, but planning is now in the category of “luxury”. There are children in the Waldorf school “Sophia”, who can’t go to school because there is always a danger that Kyiv will be bombed, and after the recent events we know it can hit a school, a hospital or a church.

But there is also the other side – being present means always being in relationship with Christ. Never before have I experienced such a strong and deep connection with the spiritual world. He helps us, He is always there, He works with us. This is also felt by the people in the community. In Kyiv, not many people come to the parish at the moment, but they come quite faithfully to the human ordination ceremony and help with all questions.

Our life in the parish has changed a lot. Although we cannot plan, every now and then, after the Act of Consecration of Man, deep conversations arise. I celebrate every day, including three times a week in the parish. We don’t have many altar servers and decided it could be three times a week. Any more would be too much for the altar servers. Every Saturday we have a human consecration service for the deceased. We deal with the biography of these people and share their fates. Every Saturday there is also in this circle of deceased a known person. The war is very close, many men – fathers, sons, brothers – from the school are in the war. Some have already crossed the threshold.

Every person in the community is helping as a volunteer. There is a small bakery, they bake bread for people in the suburbs of Kyiv, where everything is ruined. Some people go to these suburbs every morning and help clean up. It is a terrible job. But this is “a minimum we can do for these people.”

There is a great spiritual longing for understanding – where is the root of this situation, what is our future. We work with history and first try to describe all the phenomena, then to understand them a little bit. To this I want to say that we are offended by the reflections and descriptions of many anthroposophists and Waldorf teachers who understand the situation as “tension between Amerika and Russia”. You are cordially invited to Kyiv and I can lead an enlightening execution myself. Do not forget!

As I conclude, I want to write a request. At the moment there are many people in Kyiv without work and without knowing what awaits us. We get quite a lot of help, but for mental health it is important to work and to know that the work needs someone. My community is very talented, there are many women and men who make beautiful things. If some communities offer and sell our works – it would be beautiful and very healthy. People want to work, just taking money is very hard. If someone can imagine helping make this possible, please write me directly (or use admin@thechristiancommunity.org).

With warm regards and great gratitude,

Rev. Tatiana Nechytailo

Note: This has been edited in very small ways to accommodate translation differences.  The original can be seen here.

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Announcement: The Beloved Community in Exile

From the North American Seminary:

We are pleased to announce the details for our first in-person Open Course since before the pandemic! Beloved Community in Exile will take place Monday, May 30th – Friday, June 3rd at the seminary in Toronto, Canada. Coinciding with this event will be a Seminary Extension Course, a mirror event hosted by the Seminary Extension Course team in the Spring Valley, NY area. And finally, there is the possibility of participating in three of the offerings each day online. This is the first time we’ve attempted such a broad and inclusive hybrid event! We hope it will be a true expression of the times we live in; an opportunity to strengthen and build the beloved community, despite the challenges we face.

We encourage you to click on the registration links to explore the details of the offerings in each location and the online ‘space.’ It is important to note for our online participants that only the morning presentations coming from the seminary will be recorded each day and made available for 48 hours. We hope you understand our decision is based on the nature of this year’s theme and what we are trying to build together over the course of the week. Everyone who registers can expect to receive a packet of support materials the week before the course begins.

To register for the Beloved Community Open Course in Toronto OR for the online-only portion of the week’s events, please use this link:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-beloved-communityin-exile-seminary-open-course-in-toronto-on-line-tickets-328403071427

To register for the Beloved Community Extension Course hosted by the Spring Valley Area Congregation (NY), please use this link:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/beloved-communityin-exile-a-seminary-extension-course-in-chestnut-ridge-tickets-321512862627

All donations towards the Beloved Community in Exile courses will help support the ordinations being celebrated in Toronto on May 14th and 15th. Any extra monies received will be directed to the Seminary Publishing Team, who are fundraising to print 200 copies each of our three latest books: Prayer; Faith, Love, and Hope; and Reverent Devotion. More to come on the exciting work of the publishing team!

Thank you for all you do to support The Seminary of The Christian Community in North America!

We could not do it without you.

Camilla Lake for The Light in Every Thing Patreon Community

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Ukraine: Ways to donate

Here is a summary of ways one can contribute to support efforts:

Non-profit Relief Fund: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ukraine-crisis-relief-fund/

The Christian Community in Hillsdale, NY has offered to receive checks and PayPal donations which they will wire to The Christian Community in Germany.  These donations will go to support refugee and humanitarian aid in connection with the war.  If sending a check via mail:

The Christian Community
c/o Treasurer
10 Green River Ln.
Hillsdale, NY 12529
Memo: Ukraine

You may also use their PayPal donation button, but be sure to add Ukraine as a note/instruction.

Those wishing to help Waldorf schools and their families in Ukraine can make donations directly to the Friends of Waldorf Education (Freunde der Erziehungskunst), which has already mobilized a worldwide network of financial and logistic support via its secure website by clicking here.

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Pencils, Paint, and Emergency Pedagogy for Ukraine Refugees

Supplied with pencils, paper, paints, and brushes, Karine Munk Finser, Director of CfA’s newly founded Kairos Institute, flew to Scandinavia in mid-March to welcome Ukrainian refugees into her parents’ empty cottage on the Danish island of Bornholm and to begin administering a program of acute healing art therapy to mothers and their young children.

Those wishing to help Waldorf schools and their families in Ukraine can make donations directly to the Friends of Waldorf Education (Freunde der Erziehungskunst), which has already mobilized a worldwide network of financial and logistic support via its secure website by clicking here.

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Upcoming Presentation: The Turning Point in Rudolf Steiner’s Life

To register for this event: https://forms.gle/LAeTsEt9AzsYWBrm9

PK Talk March 30 2022Rev

To register for this event: https://forms.gle/LAeTsEt9AzsYWBrm9

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Ukraine Update 5

Here is the FIFTH UPDATE from Ukraine.

Ways to Donate:

Donations to support refugees and humanitarian aid in connection with the war can please be transferred to the account of the West German Region of the Christian Community with a corresponding reference in the purpose of use:

Bank account holder: Die Christengemeinschaft
IBAN: DE96 3702 0500 0008 2597 00; BIC: BFSWDE33XXX; BLZ: 37020500

Or:

Bank account holder: Die Christengemeinschaft in Deutschland (Foundation)
IBAN: DE16 8502 0500 0003 6204 00; BIC: BFSWDE33DER; BLZ: 85020500

Or:
https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ukraine-crisis-relief-fund/

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Our Humanity

From Rev. Michael Latham, priest to the San Francisco congregation, writing from Germany:

Here the war is more immediate.

Not because there is more news coverage, not because there is more consciousness, not even because we are closer in distance. No, the immediacy is in meeting the “refugees”. They have names, biographies, and homes they have been forced to flee. They have voices that tell the story of their journeys. They have brought everything they can carry in their arms with them.

Maria is 33 years old.

She celebrated her birthday with us on Thursday in the community house, surrounded by people she had only met a few days earlier. She speaks neither English nor German. She speaks her mother tongue Ukrainian. She has bright eyes and a bright smile that seems incongruent to her story. She is destined to bring joy into this world. Beside her, sitting at her birthday dinner, are her two children, Varvara, who is 12 and Elizer, who is 9.

They are deeply, lovingly connected to one another and with the infectious joy of their mother. They run up and down the stairs in the community house with the free abandonment of children. Gisela Thriemer, the priest here, is teaching them German. How to count, how to name things they are eating. And they both agree that ice cream is their favorite food!

They also brought a cat with beautiful blue/grey fur who wants to know who everyone is, because he is also part of the family.

Maria is – was – a music teacher at a Waldorf school in Kyiv. She is also a cellist. She escaped to Poland with her two children and the cat, and anything they could carry in the way of clothing. There, she was met by a friend living in Darmstadt, Germany who brought her to this town where she stayed on a couch until more refugees arrived,  then she needed to move out.

She came to the church on a Sunday, and asked the priest, Gisela, if she could help her to find a place to stay. Gisela did not know Ukrainian so called a friend to translate, while Maria stood by her. ‘Can you help me?’ She is now staying in a room in the community house sometimes used by an intern, to live there for now with her two children and the cat.

Maria plays cello. During a service for peace on Wednesday evening in the church, she joined the beautiful musicians and choir in Darmstadt to play together. The congregation was invited to say prayers, light a candle, then place it in a golden basin filled with water. Many children and families were there; older and younger members sung together. Dona Nobis Pacem was sung, reminding me of our service for peace a week earlier in San Francisco, where we sang this also.

Maria played the cello, loaned to her by one of the congregation. It was beautiful, soulful, and poignant. Yet nothing prepared us for a Ukrainian folk song she sung accompanied by the guitar. It didn’t so much reach our ears and bring its haunting melodies into our hearts. It tore apart the soul – tears were rolling down many eyes. The pain of our human desolation was laid before us.

After this we began the vespers service, candles on the altar were lit.

The trinity crosses that we all share…

The Father-God,
The Son-God,
The Spirit-God.

 

 

Then the trinity epistle…

Conscious of our humanity…
Aware of the Christ in our humanity…
Grasping the Spirit through our humanity…

 

 

What is said and done at the altar is more immediate.

We have become connected to all our brothers and sisters through our humanity.

Before I joined Maria, her children, and friends at her birthday dinner, I joined Micky Eisele and his sister Julia Eisele-Nazael. Years earlier I had the blessing to accompany a youth group from Darmstadt on a trip to Namibia. Micky was a teenager then, and there in Africa I had the pleasure of getting to know him on his journey towards adulthood.

Julia had been left a rather large, old house from her grandmother. It remained empty of all furnishings until last Thursday night. With Micky and a large van, borrowed from a farmer nearby his home, we went door to door of several members of the community, picking up dressers, dining tables, lamps, bedding, kitchen cookware, plates, knives and forks, and a washing machine and dryer. Julia packed her car with bedding. The three of us filled the house with donated furniture and basic cleaning supplies for the next arrivals:

A mother with two children 9 and 12 years old.
A mother with a daughter 14 years old.
A mother with an 8-month-old baby.
The grandmother to this baby.
A mother with her 4-year-old child and their dog.
They would be arriving in 3 days, also coming through Poland.

The following day we, Gisela Thriemer & I, made our way to Berlin for the ordinations of the priests. She was often on the phone coordinating what was still needed to receive these displaced human beings, and to make sure the beds would arrive at this house on time for their arrival. Although I had helped a little, I felt that there is still so much I could do. But what?

As we alighted in the Berlin Central Train Station, my thoughts were turning to meeting my colleagues and my ordination brothers & sisters that I have not seen in 2 years.

We were on track 10. Directly opposite on track 8, there is a very long and wide platform where people wait for the train. We both stopped and stood overwhelmed. On this platform a sea of humanity was gathered. Thousands were packed together waiting for a train. Many, many women and children with bags and rucksacks.

Deutsche Bahn have given the refugees free passage to anywhere in Germany. These were the ‘refugees’ from Ukraine, arriving now from Poland, waiting for trains to take them to many different towns and cities in the south. There were helpers in day-glo vests with signs inviting those seeking shelter to come and speak with them.

As we moved into the main part of the station, I saw families with little children huddling in groups on the floor of the station, comforting the children, feeding them, playing games.

Holding their children to keep them free of the uncertainty and the unknown of their lives.

Tears welled up in my eyes. I thought everything I was about to do seemed superfluous, silly even – to go on when there are so many needing help. What do you do?

Meeting my colleagues, my friends, my fellow walkers with Christ, we all feel this. It’s not something you can avoid. We are all overwhelmed by the need in front of us. The communities in Germany are responding. They help in any way they can.

Later we prayed together in our vestments, celebrating the arrival of new colleagues into our circle. The heavens opened once more to receive and bless them, and us.

We are a small worldwide church really. Yet, we have been given something so precious & real that we barely know its significance. And its power.

The Sun Being of Christ alights at the altar, and we can unite with Him there. His Body and Blood is given to us, to strengthen us, so we may step into this world of conflict and separation. We can help unite with all our brothers and sisters struggling all over the world.  We can share out of this cup of life, the communion for the evolving of our humanity.

My colleague Guido Rosell in Berlin asked if I would co-celebrate with him this morning, as his colleague was feeling unwell.  The time came for communion. I stood beside my ordination brother at the altar and knew, no matter if it is in San Francisco or in Berlin, this sacrament lives as the sun-filled power needed for our time on this earth and for the journey onwards after we leave it.

I feel blessed to have received my ordination in this church. I feel blessed to have met you, dear community of Christians, who strive with open hearts to bring the real presence of Christ into this world-time that is desperate, and aching, for His Love.

For Maria, Varvara & Elizer.

–Rev. Michael Latham


These pictures below were drawn by the students of the 5th-grade religion class in the Waldorf School in Darmstadt.

The word painted is pronounced “MIR”  and is the Ukrainian word for peace.
Frieden sei mit Euch – is German for Peace be with you.