Read an in-depth article on how the ECCB and its congregations have been supporting the people of Ukraine from the start of the Russian invasion to the present day.
The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren launched its assistance to Ukraine and to people fleeing Russian aggression already several days before Russian troops invaded Ukraine. You can find a description of the church’s work in the early days of the conflict in this article.This means it has been providing assistance continuously for almost three months now, both at the general church level and at the level of parish congregations. Especially in the first month and a half, volunteer work accounted for a massive portion of the aid and whoever was able to, helped. The initial crisis management of the assistance, which was determined mainly by the need for very fast and effective action and which made the implementation of the assistance very successful, was gradually transferred to a team of assistance coordinators who are dedicated to this activity and ensure it in the long term (currenly until 30 September 2022). The aid is provided thanks to the generosity of our foreign as well as local donors. The total amount of funds received and pledged for this assistance is approximately 253 thousand EUR (8.1 million CZK) and the most significant donors include: ELVKS, GAW, ELKB, EKiR, EKHN, EkiBa, HEKS, HEKS, NFVT-Ř, Diaconia of the ECCB, LWF, Sewickley Presbyterian Church, the Korean Church, and the Korean TV channel CTS International.
The congregations contributed more than 3 million CZK to the Social and Charitable Aid Fund. We intend to use these funds in the coming period, as funding is now only secured until September 2022.
In cooperation with Diaconia and parish congregations, we helped Ukrainian refugees by lending or, in most cases, donating necessary IT equipment. This mainly meant notebooks, tablets, mobile phones, power banks etc. The main donors included SIEMENS, T-Mobile, but also private donors. Material aid from Diaconia in the form of drugstore supplies, hygiene products, etc. is also being coordinated.
In mid-April 2022, CCE together with Diaconia sent a financial donation of 150 thousand CZK to its congregations in Ukraine. The funds were intended as support for the congregations in Bohemka (80 thousand CZK), Veselynivka (45 thousand CZK) and the community in Pervomaysk (25 thousand CZK).
Right at the beginning of the war, the ECCB received an offer of financial help from its partner churches, designated for working with refugees. Following an analysis of the situation, the “Coordinators” project was developed with the aim of supporting the congregations that are providing accommodation to refugees. We have secured funding for 8.5 full-time positions and currently employ 8 people in a range of six full-time positions.
Regional coordinators work in congregations, where they are responsible for day-to-day accompaniment in running errands, arranging accommodation, employment, and leisure activities, and assisting with the coordination of work in their region or seniorate. They cooperate with other non-profit organisations and government authorities (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Police of the Czech Rep., and others). They provide language courses and assist in the adaptation of Ukrainians in the Czech Republic.
At the church level, we employ coordinators who monitor the whole situation, provide material, financial and advisory work to the congregations. They are responsible for the concept and further development in the field of refugee aid. One of the coordinators provides direct care in Ukrainian or Russian for refugees.
The coordinators meet regularly every two weeks, and once in two weeks they also attend church-wide online meetings concerning work with refugees.
Based on monitoring the needs of parish congregations, the Central Church Office has been managing the project called “Minor construction and renovation jobs to increase the capacity and improve the quality of accommodation for refugees from Ukraine”. The aim of the project is to adapt the premises of congregations and make them suitable for accommodating refugees from Ukraine, as well as for leisure activities and teaching the Czech language. 29 congregations have signed up for the project. We expect an increase in capacity or an improvement in quality amounting to several hundred people. Project implementation period: 1 March 2022 to 31 October 2022. Total amount of pledged funds: 2.3 million CZK. By the end of May 2022, we expect contracts to be concluded with the congregations, and the funds to be transferred.
Teaching the Czech language is another activity provided by many congregations. It is organised not only by the congregations and their collaborators, but also in cooperation with municipalities and towns. The Central Church Office, in cooperation with Diaconia, has drawn up a project plan for language teaching, for which 22 congregations have signed up. The total amount of pledged funds for this activity is 1.5 million CZK. The expected duration of the first phase of the project, for which funds have been secured, is 1 April 2022 - 31 August 2022.
As a partner, the ECCB supports the work of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia, which provides very intensive assistance to incoming refugees on the Slovak-Ukrainian border. The ECCB, in cooperation with Diaconia, has sent a financial donation for this purpose in the amount of 10 thousand EUR, the Kofola company donated drinks for the refugees and the volunteers with a value of approx. 15.5 thousand EUR. The ECCB has also been helping with work on the border, through volunteer work etc. Further assistance is being negotiated.
The Central Church Office will seek to secure further funding for congregations, specifically for the “leisure activities for Ukrainian refugees” This activity is already being organised by many congregations and they need help with funding the employment costs (so far, the work has been done on a volunteer basis, which is, however, unsustainable in the long term!), and the related material and operating costs.
The CCC continues to monitor the needs of the congregations. There is a growing need for integration workers, who would help with job searches etc.
The CCC has also entered into negotiations with the Albatros publishing house and with the Scout Institute, and it has been working on the idea of creating a library of Ukrainian-language books. We would also like to secure the patronage of a well-known personality.
We are considering holding a "donor appreciation service" to which foreign and domestic donors who have significantly supported the work of the ECCB would be invited. The day before the event, donors would also be offered the chance to see the work of the supported congregations (following mutual agreement, of course). There is certainly a good reason to celebrate the surprisingly large number of donors who have contributed. The service would probably be followed by a garden party, which would be a great opportunity to share and to deepen relationships and enhance cooperation. The anticipated date is late September/early October 2022.