Ukrainian Baptist Church, 7321 N.E. 110th St. in Vancouver, will be holding a special service at 10 a.m. on Sunday aimed at bringing people together to support Ukraine.
The event will feature Camas investor and philanthropist David Nierenberg and Ukrainian community leaders from Clark County.
The event was organized shortly after Nierenberg read an article in The Guardian about a Vancouver resident and Ukrainian immigrant, Sergey Korenev, who flew back to Ukraine in early March to extricate his mother and to fight for the country.
Nierenberg, whose Jewish grandparents immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe at the turn of the century, said Korenev’s story was a “wake-up call” for him.
“My ancestors come from an area north of Kyiv, and the entire Jewish population there was wiped out in 1941 by the Nazis when they invaded Russia,” he said. “Had my ancestors not left when they did, I would not exist, and so this story resonates very powerfully for me.”
While attempting to locate Korenev and his family, Nierenberg met a man named Alex Moskal, a Vancouver resident and vice president of the Ukrainian American Cultural Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington. Moskal introduced him to Korenev’s family, and Nierenberg was able to offer them support. Now, he’s hoping to do the same for other local Ukrainian families.
“The whole world is watching, and the whole world is outraged about this unprovoked attack on a brave people,” Nierenberg said. “How it will end, I don’t know; but I feel like all of us, each in our own way, has an opportunity and, to use a stronger word, an obligation to help however we can.”
Knowing Nierenberg wanted to provide additional support, Moskal invited him to speak at Ukrainian Baptist Church on Sunday for a special service. Nierenberg agreed. The service will bring members of Clark County’s Jewish, Christian and Ukrainian communities together to stand with Ukraine, Moskal said.
“I’ve never been to a Ukrainian church before, but we’re all God’s children,” Nierenberg said. “I have strong historical ties to Eastern European nations, and, like most Americans, I’m inspired by the resistance of the Ukrainian people to the Russian invasion and by President Zelenskyy’s remarkable and articulate leadership.”
In addition to helping families and individuals, Nierenberg has also been in contact with senators and representatives on Capitol Hill to ensure that military aid and medical supplies are being delivered to Ukraine.
Members of Clark County’s Ukrainian community are doing the same. On Wednesday, Moskal, Ukrainian Baptist Church Pastor Paul Demyanik and other Ukrainian community leaders met with U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, to discuss Ukrainian community support and refugee support. Bess Willis, a Riverview Community Bank board member, was also in the meeting. Riverview Bank recently donated $10,000 to the Ukrainian American Cultural Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington. Moskal is an employee at Riverview Community Bank.
Ukrainian Baptist Church and Church of Christ the Savior have been sending financial aid to an association of churches providing support on the front lines in Ukraine. Now, both churches are also preparing to assist incoming refugees.
“It will be especially women and children,” Demyanik said. “We will open a door for them, and we will do what we can to learn what they need, because they are probably coming with almost nothing.”
“We’re just trying to help in every way that we can think of to relieve the suffering,” Nierenberg said.
People interested in supporting local efforts to aid Ukraine can learn more at uaws.org.