Pastor of Russian-Ukrainian church in Jacksonville talks rising tensions between the two countries

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As tensions between Russia and Ukraine grow, people living right here in Jacksonville have begun to worry about loved ones still in Eastern Europe.

For almost 30 years, Russian and Ukrainian church members have been congregating at Lake Shore Baptist Church. Now, they’re praying for peace in Eastern Europe.

Reverend Anatoli Kadaev has been with the First Russian-Ukrainian Baptist Church of Jacksonville since its beginning in 1993. He’s watched it grow from three dozen church members to over a hundred.

“Some people are Russian like I am, some Ukrainian,” Kadaev said. “We have never had any tension in the body of our church based on the situation in Ukraine.”

The church family doesn’t let differences get between them, Kadaev says. Russian himself, he married his Ukrainian wife more than 50 years ago.

“Despite me being Russian, and her Ukrainian, we feel peace and understanding between us, and I wish the same for the countries, and the people in Ukraine and Russia,” he said.

Current tensions between Russia and Ukraine worry Kadaev; he and his wife have family in both countries.

“The major concern is about the future of the young population,” he said.

While he understands peace doesn’t happen overnight, Kadaev continues to pray for it. He adds that no matter what happens between Russia and Ukraine, his church will stay united.

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