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Church Dinner - A Note from Ocepeks, July 2022

photo of Easter dinner at Stradch Church in Ukraine

Greetings! This message from Ocepek Pottery Communionware is a little different than our usual updates. We feel sure that the churches we are blessed to serve will forgive this diversion.

Does the picture above look familiar? We've all been to church dinners like this: an assortment of people of different ages, personalities, and lives, coming together in the church social hall for a meal. You can probably imagine the sounds and smells, the clatter of dishes, dragging of chairs to and from the table, maybe announcements being made, the laughter. The photo shows what would have been a typical meal of this kind, except for maybe the laughter. Laughter might have been a little hard to come by at this meal in Ukraine at Easter when a group of refugees met, as they do daily, for a meal in the church sheltering them. They didn't finish the meal, clean up, and go home that day because they had no homes to go to. In fact, nothing must have felt familiar or normal about this meal or this day because it was overshadowed by the terror of war and loss. This message is a heartfelt plea for help for this particular church, the Stradch Church, which is doing desperately needed work to help the innocent victims of the war in Ukraine.

The congregation at Bethany UCC (my church!) here in Ohio is small but mighty! They have undertaken the task of assisting this charitable work, and we are asking that you send the link below to others, in order to try to help raise the needed funds.

From the Bethany website, "Since February, The Stradch Church (The Greek Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary), has welcomed war refugee families to live in their retreat center, providing them with housing and all the basic necessities including three meals per day, medical and psychological care, etc. Currently they have 55 residents, 20 of whom are children between the ages of 5 months and 16 years. These families come from areas of Ukraine where there is heavy fighting. Many are traumatized. Some do not have homes to return to. For at least the remainder of 2022, Bethany will raise funds each month to feed these war refugees. Currently it costs about $5,100 per month for food for the refugees (about $ 1 per person per meal.)"

Please visit http://www.bethanyucc.org/ukraine-appeal . There you will find more information about how Pastor Kim Cran was led to connect with the Stradch Church and how this ministry developed. 100% of the donations Bethany receives for this cause will go to purchase food for the refugees we have been entrusted to care for.

Your church is already committed to helping other worthy causes, I am sure, and perhaps you will not find it practical to donate yourself, but I am hoping you can forward this message, or the link to the Bethany site, to at least ten of the most compassionate people you know. This is an urgent need, very urgent. Adam and I have been aware in our personal lives of the fact that many people want to do something that could help the Ukrainians, in addition to prayers, if only they knew what would be the best method. And then this opportunity arose! We are personally endorsing this project and Bethany Church as the steward of the funds, to provide the most effective and impactful way to make a difference. Again, 100% of the funds will be used to feed these war victims (talk about bang for the buck!)

So, my message was not about pottery at all, which is what I usually write to you about. At this time of year, I would typically be writing about how as usual I'm getting caught up in the studio in order to be ready for the fall programs starting in our churches. It seemed frivolous to focus on that, bringing to mind the stark contrast between what's normal in my usual day and what's now normal for the Ukranian refugees in their life of fear and crisis. Unimaginable. I'm thankful that we can now help in some small way. Please, share this link as you are able :

Blessings to you and those you serve,
Debra and Adam Ocepek
Ocepek Pottery Communionware