News Release

European Latter-day Saints Find New Ways to Minister to Refugees

Relief efforts continue all across Europe

As the flow of refugees from Eastern Europe increases, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to take an active part in the relief efforts that are happening all over Europe. These efforts include establishing formal structures (such as the Emergency Relief Committee described below) and informal networks with other established humanitarian organizations to serve those affected by the ongoing conflict.

"We are trying to do what Jesus would have us do, to lift the downtrodden. So, we want the right supplies, financial support and people to go where they are needed the most — and as quickly as possible,” said Elder Massimo De Feo, President in the Europe Area Presidency.

This concern led to the creation or reactivation of relief councils and structures across the area, where local priesthood leaders and sister leaders of the Church coordinate the work in close connection with and following the guidance and direction of the Europe Area Presidency.

The Europe Area Presidency is the governing body for the Church in 38 European countries and oversees the humanitarian response and funding from the Church for refugee support.

Elder Rubén V. Alliaud, second counselor in the Europe Area Presidency, added that “anticipating current events, we in the presidency were ready to immediately implement an Emergency Response Committee to coordinate all the relief efforts in the Area.”

This effort is driven by the priesthood line and is supported by those working in the Europe Area office in Frankfurt am Main. The committee coordinates first assistance with local leaders through Area Seventies and mission presidents in the affected countries. More than 600 Ukrainian refugee members of the Church have been directly helped. Elder Alliaud expressed that “it is almost overwhelming to see the goodness and the willingness to serve of so many.”

One specific initiative that was generated in these priesthood-led councils is the Partner Branch System that was devised to support Church congregations near the border of Ukraine and organize humanitarian efforts there more efficiently. The system partners 19 German, Swiss, and Austrian stakes with 24 congregations of the countries in the Europe Area that share a border with Ukraine. A stake is a group of congregations in a geographical area.

This Partner Branch System creates a direct line of communication and system of support between those frontline congregations needing help and the partner groups paired with them to provide it. Peter Huber, a member of the Europe Area’s Emergency Response Council who is working on the project, remarked that “It is extremely challenging to meet the needs of refugees crossing the 2,000-kilometer Ukrainian border. For example, “people in the north have different needs than people in the south.” Huber added, “Members don’t want to just fill out a check. They want to be emotionally involved.”

Greg Pawlik, a volunteer refugee coordinator for the Church in Poland said, talking about his role, “Finally, I am able to live my religion.” Julie Wondra, an Area Organization Adviser for Eastern Europe, said, “The love and desire to help is overwhelming to behold. People’s hearts are drawn towards each other.”

The Church meanwhile announced a new donation of US$4 Million to help the refugees in Europe. The donation was given to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and to the World Food Programme to help those displaced by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

Below are a few new highlights of how the Church in Europe is helping in the current crisis. For previous highlights, click here and here.


Krakow is on the front line of the flow of refugees from Ukraine. Agata Tudor-Hart, the local congregation women’s service organization leader, is temporarily a refugee coordinator in a new informal refugee network. She sent full-time Church volunteer Rick Schroedter to the Krakow train station — teeming with refugees — to find a woman named Marina. “After 90 minutes of searching unknown faces, a woman grabbed my arm, having spotted my missionary name tag.” Schroedter said, “Marina?” she nodded excitedly with a wide grin. “That day God not only answered our prayers, but theirs as well.”

“In Warsaw, no one says, ‘I can’t,’” said Agnieszka Mazurowska, the coordinator in the capital of Poland. “We do no more than everyone else in Poland. Even our friends from faraway are also helping.” Some former congregation members have gone online from abroad to pay for canned food for the refugees in Warsaw. Mazurowska also shared the story of a mother and her pregnant teenage daughter. The distraught daughter, who got married only three months ago, had to leave her father and husband in Ukraine (most Ukrainian men between ages 18 and 60 are required to stay). Mazurowska said, “I could not make her happy, that was not possible. I did try, however, to make her sorrow easier.”

Yulia, her parents, and her 12-year-old son evacuated Kyiv, leaving her husband behind. As her group of fellow refugees grew from 25 then to 66, Yulia became their leader, leading them in prayer and calling them “a union of Ukrainians with one heart united.” In her own words she shared the temple experience which has carried her on her journey. “It is a tradition to go to the temple when our children turn 12 years old. We went on our son’s 12th birthday, the day before the conflict started. All members of my family went to the temple. We were in the most beautiful, safest, and sacred place in the world. We felt the love of God.” Yulia and her family are now in Warsaw, preparing to travel to Germany to live with their relatives.

Mariia’s family has been torn apart in recent weeks. Her father, mother and a brother are staying behind in Ukraine, while she and her sister are moving west, trying to join her brother there. While her home was in Donetsk, in the east part of Ukraine, she was at a conference for young single adults in the west of Ukraine when the conflict began. She was unable to return home. She and her sister decided not to go home and headed instead for L’viv, Ukraine, together with 20 other conference goers.

There they met 16 others, and the large group made their way to Krakow. She used a Church-sponsored Facebook program to find help specific to her situation. Stopping only for a day in Krakow, despite the disruption, she said, “I know that God loves me, that He knows who I am, and that He has a plan for me. I have seen many miracles. I know that Heavenly Father sees what I do.” 

Greg Pawlik, a member of the Church in the Krakow Branch, drove a man from the border area and discussed what he could do to help him. Pawlik asked, in Ukrainian, if he spoke any English. He replied, in Ukrainian, “In English I only know one phrase, ‘I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’”

Pawlik also spoke with another Church member family, also fleeing Ukraine. They shared their last family photo taken in front of the Kyiv Temple in early February, taken by their daughter. Not long after hostilities broke out, the Kyiv Temple was closed, and the family is now separated. The mother and her two children had to leave the father and husband behind. They are being housed and fed by the Gdańsk congregation of only 10 members. She holds this picture dear to her heart, not knowing if they will be together again.


Italy’s East and West Milan Stakes joined the Consulate General of Ukraine in Italy to collect essential goods for the people of Ukraine. Young people ages 14 to 30 distributed lists of materials needed around the city and children drew pictures to send with the packages. Members, missionaries and friends of the Church personally donated and gathered everything requested by the Consulate. Dozens of people sorted, boxed and loaded 25 pallets with 551 boxes of blankets, clothing, food, medical supplies and personal hygiene products on to trucks offered by the Consulate bound for Ukraine. To find out more about this service project, check this article in Italy’s Newsroom.


Leaders and members of the Church in Luxembourg started collecting key items to support the refugees entering in Poland, Romania and Slovakia. They partnered with the Romania-based organization Association MGM, which is supplying relief at the border. Members in Luxembourg are also joining with L’Ukraine, which was already supporting efforts between Luxembourg and the Donetsk region of Ukraine. Hundreds of boxes of donations were collected, sorted and transported to key regions of refugee influx. The ward’s young women started a project in local schools to gather more supplies and spent an evening sorting and packing these the following week.

Through local contributions, the supplies were delivered by the congregation leadership to a local congregation in Warsaw. Upon meeting the Church leadership there, dozens of air mattresses, sleeping pads, first aid kits, medical supplies, blankets and pillows and other goods were offered to further the efforts of the Church in that part of Europe.


In the initial days of the crisis, two brothers from Church congregations in Sweden drove to Warsaw with, among other things, 100 sleeping bags, which were very helpful because they are sold out in Poland. The brothers just wanted to help, and this was the quickest way they found to do it. Members and friends of the Church are now requested to coordinate their efforts first with local leadership in their respective congregation or with established local charities or relief organizations.


In France, Church leader Christophe Mortier from Mulhouse joined with Restos du Cœur, a Slovak relief organization, to collect and transport basics needs to the Slovak border. These goods were delivered a few days later. The group returned with a family of six headed for Luxembourg, who were aided by the association L’Ukraine, which welcomes displaced people. A Ukrainian expatriate who leads one of the Paris congregations organized a similar collection, resulting in three more trips.

The Mulhouse congregation leader, partnering with the APPUIS association, traveled to the country and brought back five displaced Ukrainian families. In the Lille region, five tons of food were collected from congregations by SDJ Solidarité, in partnership with the Secours Populaire de Lomme. Transportation of the food to the front was provided by Confort Luxe of Belgium. More on their work can be found in this article published in France’s Newsroom.


A congregation of the Church in Allerød reported that a member family from Ukraine arrived and attended Sunday church services. Their only possessions were the clothes on their backs. The congregation is supplying lodging and collecting more clothing, food and necessities to help them. Leaders report that the family is very grateful and feels welcome. The various Danish wards (larger congregations) have been collecting food and clothes to send to the refugee camps. They are also taking part in a Danish project, collecting money for different organizations that are helping in Ukraine. They plan to hold more fasts for the citizens of Ukraine. In the first few days of the crisis, the leadership of the Church in Europe invited all members to go without food or water for a day and donate those funds for humanitarian programs of the Church.


In Friedrichsdorf, the youth of the local congregation sorted and folded clothing for Ukrainian refugees. Celia Diez, their adult leader, used Just Serve Community, an online platform sponsored by the Church, to gather clothing. Within 24 hours, they had enough clothing to fill 60 large bags. They filled the van and sent them to the Frankfurt Refugee Center, where 150 Afghan refugees, formerly housed in Ukraine, had to be moved again to Frankfurt.


In Austria, the Church organized crisis teams to coordinate help Ukrainians in need. Within days, members collected donated goods and provided them to relief organizations. Cooperating with the refugee aid group Train of Hope in Vienna, the Church assists by facilitating short- and medium-term accommodation as well as interpreters. Volunteers help by providing needed goods and medication and by preparing meals for more than 50 refugees in a rented family hotel. Find out more in this article published in Austria’s Newsroom

Throughout the country, members contribute to Church relief efforts and projects by charities in their own communities. The Church crisis team in Austria, in cooperation with Church leadership in Ukraine, collects needed goods, such as medicine. And they have set up a transportation team to get this medication to the members and, if needed, transport members to safe homes in Austria or elsewhere.

A common thread expressed by those whose stories are told here is profound gratitude to all who have sacrificed their time, comfort and resources to collect and distribute food, supplies and clothing. These refugees express faith in God and hope for the future through Jesus Christ.

Those who want to help or who need help may check this resource page created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.