Utah Greek Orthodox Church hosts special prayer service for Ukraine

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HOLLADAY — A powerful gathering in Holladay sent prayers for peace to Ukraine, and the congregation that came together shares a special bond with Ukrainians.

Inside the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church Sunday afternoon, hymns and prayers echoed throughout the building. Clergy from all Greek Orthodox churches across the entire state gathered to lead a special service. Those who attended became emotional at times, wiping away tears.

The people they were praying for were part of their own church family.

"My husband and I have been praying for the people in Ukraine," said parishioner Jeannine Timothy. "So, when we got the notice that there was a prayer service today, we thought, 'I mean what else can we do?'"

The words and beliefs deeply connect this congregation to two countries at war half a world away.

"Both Russia and Ukraine are predominantly Orthodox Christian countries; the vast majorities of both of their populations are members of our church," said Father Patrick O'Rourke, assistant priest at the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake. "So, to watch a war unfolding between them is deeply, deeply troubling."

Every Sunday, Father Patrick explained, Orthodox Christian churches around the world celebrate the same services, sing the same hymns, and read the same scripture passages based on an ecclesiastical calendar used for 1,400 years. Sunday, they shared the same pain.

"We think about, if you have two brothers that just can't get along and then it gets to the point of violence, there's a deep wound that everybody in the family feels," Father Patrick said.

Just as a family may turn to their mother for a solution and resolution, the Greek Orthodox Church of Greater Salt Lake turned to Mother Mary for answers.

During Sunday's Supplicatory Canon to the Mother of God, Father Patrick explained, they asked the Virgin Mary to pray for them.

We pray for her to intercede for us, hear our prayers, carry them to Christ. And send help, send peace, send healing to the nation of Ukraine — which means, of course, there's got to be healing in Russia too.

–Jeannine Timothy, parishioner

In addition to prayer, the clergy announced during the service a fundraiser by the International Orthodox Christian Charity * that members can donate to, to send relief to Ukraine.

The Supplicatory Canon to the Mother of God service is a way for a priest to gather people and pray for a specific reason — in this case, the people of Ukraine. He described how in Orthodox Christianity, the Holy Mother is seen as the greatest spiritual power within the church itself.

"We pray for her to intercede for us, hear our prayers, carry them to Christ," Timothy said. "And send help, send peace, send healing to the nation of Ukraine — which means, of course, there's got to be healing in Russia, too."

Healing, Timothy and Father Patrick expressed, that they sent through the power of prayer to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

"Prayers have been answered in my life, and so I'm hoping that many, many people in Ukraine and Russia have peace and that it comes to them," Timothy said, as tears welled in her eyes. "And they recognize the power of God in their lives, and hopefully it will get them where the world needs for them to be."

*Disclaimer: KSL.com has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does KSL.com assure that the monies deposited will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit or donation you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Lauren Steinbrecher
Lauren Steinbrecher is an Emmy award-winning reporter and multimedia journalist who joined KSL in December 2021.


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