Prayers for peace, actions for peace

Dear Church,

Sometime after we were married, my husband and I did the responsible thing and made wills. For a number of years – at least 7 or more – upon our demise, 50% of our wealth would go to the UUA and the other 50% to the UU Service Committee.  This only changed when we woke one night to the sound of our crying baby and thought we might need to revisit our estate plans.

Fast forward 20 years.

Something important happened at St. John’s this past season.

Sandy Geiser, who coordinates our art gallery space, was moved to put up a display in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She provided maps to help us orient ourselves, and a way we could share our prayers and wishes for peace.

One of the artists whose work was displayed at our church was moved that we would care this much for people so far away. Nuria Mora Muniz, of Spanish heritage, went home and created an original work of art based on Pablo Picaso’s famous Guernica. Her work is a condemnation of war wherever it happens; a reminder that humanity suffers the same when bombs fall and bodies break. Her work is a visual prayer for peace everywhere.

While we have had congregant-raising awareness of ongoing events in Ukraine, a handful of St. Johners have joined with a group of Baptists and others to help settle three refugees from Afghanistan. (You’ll recall that one year ago this week, the U.S. State Dept. announced a U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for certain Afghans, including those who worked with the United States, the opportunity for refugee resettlement to the U.S.)

Meanwhile, some of us have been distributing food to area immigrants from Latin America every week.

More of us still have helped with a Congolese family in sanctuary at Clifton United Methodist Church. When that family “graduated” and moved out, St. Johners were among those who showed up to help refresh and renovate the space at the Methodist church so that other families might find sanctuary.

A faithful bunch of congregants meets virtually monthly with St. John’s Sanctuary and Immigration Team, connecting our efforts to agencies and broader work done for and with immigrants and refugees in Greater Cincinnati and trying to grow support for those communities.

I think what we are seeing is that when good people are given an opportunity to help, they will.

The UU Service committee works in something of this way. While they work internationally, they do so with partners who live and serve in places of need. Working with others, the UUSC empowers good people to do good work. They actively embody Nuria’s prayer for peace.

I am honored that St. John’s has received this beautiful artwork and am confident that the funds raised will extend the heart of St. John’s to a wider world.

Please take a moment to look at the art and scroll down to read the artist’s statement and consider if you might be inspired to bid on this historic and evocative artwork:

Auction for Benefit of Ukraine (

Yours in faith,

Rev. Mitra

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