Among the worshipers at All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Manhattan on Sunday, Tetiana Geletei prayed fervently for her father. 

Geletei’s whole family is in Ukraine, where her father has been called by the Ukrainian army to fight the Russian invasion. “I cannot connect to him,” she said. “I don’t know where he is now. Is he safe?” Her pitch rose as she voiced her last worry: “If he has something to eat at all.”

At the service, Pastor Vitaliy Pavlykivsky urged congregants to pray for Ukraine and to donate money to support the Ukrainian army.  The church is located at 206 East 11th Street in the East Village.

A flier on a table near the prayer candles for sale at the church’s entrance listed a bank account and routing number for donations. “Ukrainian National Federal Credit Union has open account: ‘Help Ukraine’ for the Armed forces of Ukraine. Collected funds will be wired every day to support Ukraine,” it read.

At the end of the formal part of the service, when Pavlykivsky had blessed each of the worshippers individually, Iryna Rusyn, 22, asked where she could donate money to support the army. She’d brought cash with her. 

Rusyn had spent more than an hour traveling to the church by train from Queens, she told me outside afterwards. She doesn’t have time to make the journey every Sunday. In fact, she’d only been to All Saints once before. But she needed to be there this week. 

“I felt that I needed to pray for my country, for my people,” she said on the church steps, hands stuffed into the pockets of her long black faux fur coat. Despite the cold, she’d made plans to meet up with a friend, a fellow Ukrainian, to go to a rally in support of their homeland. 

After she had left, most people still lingered in the church. “Because of this event, of course they pray a bit longer now,” she explained.

Inside, children ran from side to side along the back aisle and bounded up and down the stairs to the balcony where some of their mothers were singing in the choir. Four kids wore the colors of the Ukrainian flag, which flew outside the church door.

The mood among the adults was somber and anxious. One woman wiped her eyes repeatedly during prayers. She hastily stepped outside twice to take calls on her cell phone, pressing it to her ear before she’d even reached the door. 

Geletei, 30, a human resources coordinator, is here in the United States by herself. She described the how church’s atmosphere felt changed: “It’s different because people are hurt.”

The president of the church, Oleh Mykulynskyy, had left New York for Ukraine that morning, Geletei said. 

“He served [the] Ukrainian army before he came to the United States. So he felt like he needs to go back and try to help,” Geletei said.

As the whole church prayed for Mykulynskyy, his wife sang upstairs with the choir, as she does every Sunday.

“When we found out that he left, half of the choir was crying,” Geletei said.

Rusyn was not the only person who came to support the church community because of the ongoing crisis. Pavlykivsky greeted a small group of Georgians in English and thanked them for their prayers and support, and a young woman named Samantha whose grandparents had belonged to the church after they had immigrated from Ukraine visited for the first time. But for members, being together was emotionally intense. 

“It’s really hard to be here. It’s really hard,” Geletei said. “Because, you know, you can feel the pain.”

“Praying helps,” Geletei said. “And all this long prayer at the end, it was specifically regarding the war. So we were praying for stopping the war, we were praying for strength for Ukrainians.”