At least 38 people have been reported killed in twin explosions at stations on Moscow’s metro rail system, reports Al Jazeera.  The first blast took place at the Lubyanka station in the center of the city.  A spokeswoman for Russia’s emergencies ministry, told the news sources; “The blast hit the second carriage of a metro train that stopped at Lubyanka, at 07:56 (03:56 GMT).”  The headquarters of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), successor to the Soviet-era KGB, is located just above Lubyanka station.

A second blast followed at Park Kultury in the southwest of the city.  Moscow authorities believe that the explosions were carried out by two female suicide bombers wearing explosive belts.

ELCA Global Mission has had a long standing relationship with the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy (MPC), an international, interdenominational Christian ministry serving the English-speaking community of Moscow. The Chaplaincy was established in 1962 by the National Council of Churches of Christ of the U.S.A. and today has many social ministries serving vulnerable groups in Moscow including refugees, students, elderly and the poor. ELCA Global Mission currently supports the work of MPC soup kitchens, serving more than 200 people a day, five days a week.

Rev. Robert Bronkema, chaplain at the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, sent the following message early this morning:

We just got news of the bombing on the metro subways stations. So far we have not received any notice of MPC members who have been affected by the blasts but have not been able to contact a number of them. Please keep MPC in your prayers during this time and especially all of the bombing victims and their families.

The blasts occurred on the red line which is the line that we use fairly much on a daily basis. It is also the line where the foreign student university is located and I know of one group of students who were on the line during the blast, but quite a ways away from the actual blast.

We continue to try to reach all of our community. We had to close one of our Soup Kitchens for the day, Kuznetsky Most, which was exactly at the station where the first bomb went off. All the other ministries are running.

May we continue to hold our brothers and sister in Russia in our Holy Week prayers. We pray for those who have died and been wounded. We pray for families and care givers. We pray that we may all turn away from violence and respect the dignity of the other.