Archbishop Alexander Sample speaks on screen May 17 at Temple Beth Israel in Northwest Portland. “I want to assure you that we are with you,” the archbishop told Ukrainians. (Courtesy Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon)
Archbishop Alexander Sample speaks on screen May 17 at Temple Beth Israel in Northwest Portland. “I want to assure you that we are with you,” the archbishop told Ukrainians. (Courtesy Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon)
In a Northwest Portland synagogue May 17, dozens of faith leaders expressed solidarity with Ukraine’s people and urged believers to contribute to humanitarian support.

Russian troops invaded neighboring Ukraine starting in February. Fighting continues, with Ukrainians enduring longer than expected. Almost 50,000 have died in the siege and 14 million Ukrainians have been displaced.

The event, called “United for Peace,” drew Jewish, Christian and Muslim spiritual figures.

In a video message recorded at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Archbishop Alexander Sample spoke to Ukrainians, including refugees in Oregon.

“You have been suffering greatly,” Archbishop Sample said. “I want to assure you that we are with you. We love you and we are praying for you.”

The archbishop urged local political leaders to be generous in supporting refugees from Ukraine.

“We are praying for peace and that the hand of the aggressor will be turned away from the Ukrainian homeland,” he said.

Father Ken Olson, a retired priest of the Ukrainian Catholic tradition, sang a prayer. “Behold enemies have once more gathered,” he chanted. “It will be impossible to oppose their numbers unless you give us your help.”

Rabbi Michael Cahana, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, hosted the evening wearing a blue suit and yellow tie, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

“Shock, horror, outrage. These are some of the emotions that run through us as we witness the unjustified aggression and the unjust war being perpetrated on the people of Ukraine,” Rabbi Cahana said. “Nothing can replace the sense of security destroyed.”

Saying that Ukrainians have inspired the world, the rabbi cited Psalm 72: “May peace rain down from heaven.”

Imam Abdullah Polovina of Portland’s Islamic Bosniaks Educational and Cultural Organization said his community shares the sorrow of Ukrainians.

“Ukraine is a beacon to the wisdom of peace,” the imam said, adding that God’s law of human relations is not conflict but cooperation.

Rev. Andrea Cano, a United Church of Christ minister and interim president of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, had a message for Ukrainians: “We see you. We hear you. We are with you.”

Local Ukrainian Americans spoke and sang heartfelt songs from the region. Among the musicians was Inna Kovtun, a well-known recording artist and folk singer who arrived from Ukraine in Portland six weeks ago. Her husband remained in Ukraine to fight.

“Many of those who are being killed are our families and friends and neighbors,” said Tatiana Terdal of the Ukrainian-American Cultural Association of Oregon. She said local Ukrainians are grateful for every blue and gold flag they see flying at houses in the state.

Rev. Volodymyr Yavorskyi of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Southeast Portland said Ukrainians are prevailing against all odds “only because of God.”

Matthew Westerbeck, head of refugee services for Catholic Charities of Oregon, said he hopes more Ukrainian refugees find a home in Oregon. The solidarity the region extends cannot be of the “cheap” variety but must be the type that extends concrete care and support, Westerbeck said.

Leaders from the Latter-day Saints, Assemblies of God and Pentecostal alliances also voiced unity with the cause of Ukrainians.