Have American megachurches failed to offer help to the Ukrainian people? No, that's not true: An informal survey by Lead Stories shows several of America's largest congregations and denominations are actively soliciting and distributing relief to the people impacted by the war in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his "special military action" in Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on March 5, 2022. It opens:
Funny how we haven't seen a single American mega church offer ANYTHING to the Ukrainians...
This is what the post looked like on Facebook on March 8, 2022:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Mar 8 16:54:19 2022 UTC)
The church pictured in the Facebook post is Lakewood Church in Houston. It's one of America's largest megachurches with approximately 45,000 people attending services and activities every week. While Lead Stories couldn't find anything about Ukraine on the church's website, the congregation's Facebook page was a different story. A post and video (archived here) from March 7, 2022, said:
Not only are we praying for the people of Ukraine, but we are also doing what we can to partner with churches that are helping refugees fleeing the war in places like Slovakia and Poland. With our partnership with Dr. Todd & Sue Price, we are working inside Ukraine to help those who are in the midst of the conflict right now. We will continue to look for ways to help. Thank you for partnering with us!
This is what the post looks like on Facebook:
Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, is another American megachurch (20,000). The front page of its website says "PRAY FOR UKRAINE." A link takes you to a page dedicated to Ukraine relief. It says:
Caring for Ukraine
02/24/2022Join us in praying for Ukraine. Saddleback Relief is in touch with local pastors in Ukraine who are asking for 'prayer, prayer, prayer.'
They are preparing to receive and care for displaced families. These local churches need to prepare rooms, generators, blankets, and food. If you'd like to support the people of Ukraine, you can give at saddleback.com/relief
Here are some ways you can join us in praying:
- Pray for peace to be restored immediately and for the war to come to a full stop.
- Pray for the refugees they will be receiving.
- Pray for the churches to be equipped to care for the community.
- Pray for people to know the love and hope of Jesus during this difficult time.
Thank you for praying with us. We will continue to be in touch with Ukrainian pastors and update you on how we can assist them.
North Point Community Church
North Point Community Church is another American megachurch (30,000+) and is located in Alpharetta, Georgia, north of Atlanta. Lead Stories found nothing about Ukraine on their website. After calling the church, we were directed to a nonprofit (NGO) volunteer organization called Global Leadership for any charitable giving for Ukraine. The church's Facebook page included this post:
Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, is by many counts, the largest megachurch in the United States with more than 100,000 people attending each weekend at multiple locations. The congregation has a webpage dedicated to "Serving Ukraine," which, in part, says:
Our hearts are heavy for the people affected by the war in Ukraine. We can be involved in bringing the help and hope they need through giving and praying. ...
Gateway has sent funds to our partners who have already been serving in Ukraine and the surrounding countries hosting those who fled. We have partnered with Storyline and World Relief over the years. We also have set aside budget resources for disaster relief. We have used some of these funds during the first weekend of the conflict. As we assess the situation, we plan to send more. When we give to our campuses, we are helping with this crisis and our work to bring life and freedom to our world.
Methodists and Catholics
While megachurches are often nondenominational and work independently, smaller churches in mainline denominations tend to band together. The website for the United Methodist Committee on Relief has an appeal for peace in the Russian-Ukraine conflict, while also calling for donations:
United Methodists and others wishing to provide humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country may contribute to Advance #982450, UMCOR International Disaster Response and Recovery. This fund will provide direct assistance to those in Ukraine as well as assistance to Ukrainians fleeing to neighboring countries.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is providing support as well. In a March 1, 2022, news release, the agency said:
CRS is sending staff and resources to support local Caritas partners in Ukraine, Romania, Moldova and Poland to address the growing needs.
The Church's initial support of displaced families includes, but is not limited to:
- Food distributions
- Support with reception centers at Caritas offices, train stations, and transit hubs.
- Transportation services
- Support with evacuation centers, which provide shelter, food and counseling services for displaced families.
- Evacuation of vulnerable children from conflict areas to centers in safe zones.
Other Lead Stories fact checks related to the 2022 Russia-Ukraine conflict can be found here.