First Presidency asks world leaders to seek peace in Ukraine as church closes Kyiv temple
“We pray that this armed conflict will end quickly, that the controversies will end peacefully and that peace will prevail among nations and within our own hearts.”
As the war over Ukraine intensified again Friday, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement pleading with world leaders to seek a swift, peaceful resolution.
What did the First Presidency say about Russia and Ukraine?
We are heartbroken and deeply concerned by the armed conflict now raging. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has members in each of the affected areas and throughout the world. Our minds and hearts have been turned toward them and all our brothers and sisters.
We continue to pray for peace. We know that enduring peace can be found through Jesus Christ. He can calm and comfort our souls even in the midst of terrible conflicts. He taught us to love God and our neighbors.
We pray that this armed conflict will end quickly, that the controversies will end peacefully, and that peace will prevail among nations and within our own hearts. We plead with world leaders to seek for such resolutions and peace.
The statement was released by Presidents Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring from church headquarters in Salt Lake City on the church’s newsroom website.
Also Friday, the Salt Lake City Catholic Diocese and Catholic Community Services issued a joint statement:
“We join with Pope Francis in his call for prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine and the protection of innocent lives,” it said. “We encourage our government leaders to welcome any Ukrainian refugees displaced by these senseless acts of aggression and urge people to aid our Ukrainian brothers and sisters by donating to the efforts of Catholic Relief Services, which is already serving people in need in Ukraine. Should the situation escalate to the point of resettling Ukrainian refugees in the United States, Catholic Community Services of Utah’s Migration and Refugee Services team is eager to assist.”
What about the Kyiv Ukraine Temple?
Earlier this week, before Russian troops invaded Ukraine by land and sea, church leaders closed the Kyiv Ukraine Temple near the nation’s capital as a precaution, church spokesman Sam Penrod said.
“This temple has suspended all operations and ordinances until further notice,” according to a note posted on the temple’s website.
The Kyiv temple is the only Latter-day Saint temple between Germany and the Pacific Rim.
“If you have an existing appointment for a sealing or your own endowment, you will be contacted by temple staff,” the temple’s website said.
Fighting in Ukraine intensified again on Friday as Russian troops advanced on Kyiv, the nation’s capital. Ukrainian troops continue to provide stiff resistance, however, ABC News reported.
Ukrainians fled Kyiv and other major cities as hostilities grew. Meanwhile, Russia also began to see the affects of the international sanctions. The Russian stock market fell by 33%.
What is happening with Latter-day Saint missionaries in Ukraine and Russia?
The church announced in January, as tensions on the border grew, that it had reassigned all non-Ukrainian Latter-day Saint missionaries to other countries. Some who were near the end of their assignments returned home. Others now are serving in Germany, Croatia, Poland, Sweden, Spain, Canada and in several U.S. states, including Alaska, Illinois, Washington and at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.
On Friday afternoon, a church spokesman confirmed that all of the church’s non-Russian volunteers had left Russia more than a week ago.
“As of mid-February, approximately 50 young volunteers have taken assignments outside of Russia, given the recent recommendation of many foreign governments advising against travel to Russia,” spokesman Sam Penrod said. “Local church meetings and services remain under the direction of local members, who serve as lay leaders in their congregations. The message of peace, love and hope in our Savior Jesus Christ continues to be lived and practiced in strict observance of all legal regulations.”
In July 2016 Russia implemented an anti-terrorism law that included a provision banning public missionary work. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints immediately complied, redesignating its young missionaries as volunteers and directing them to follow the law’s provision that all proselytizing take place in houses of worship.