Prayer Vigil for Ukraine held at Salisbury Amphitheater

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SALISBURY, Md- A lit candle, Ukrainian flag, sunflower; These are the items participants brought with them to the Ukraine Prayer Vigil in downtown Salisbury on Thursday evening.

“It was very emotional and I was there and I was frozen and I thought how lucky I was to be here frozen here rather than being shot,” said participant Ron Wilder. Wilder tells us he heard about the event online and attended the event with his wife, both with a sunflower in their hands.

“I brought the flower because of this woman who went viral in Ukraine giving them to soldiers, but the rest of this story isn’t too appropriate for me to tell,” Wilder says. The woman Wilder is referring to was captured in a viral Twitter video handing out sunflowers to soldiers, telling them that if they fell, flowers would grow in their place.

Ukrainian Orthodox pastor Father Steven Hutnick, who led a prayer during the vigil, said the displays of support moved him as he watched the crowd of more than 50 gathered at the Riverwalk Amphitheatre.

“It was one of the things that brought tears to my eyes,” he said, adding “there was a sense of togetherness that it all brought out.”

Vigil organizer Mike Mathers says that’s why he wanted to hold the vigil; to give people that feeling to cling to.

“We’ve all been glued to our TVs watching what’s going on, but as the weeks go by, this war drags on, there will be other things that come to light, so I want the feeling that we have now to be cemented in the hearts of everyone and able to maintain that togetherness by being here tonight,” he said.

Mathers tells us he was deployed to neighboring Moldova as part of the Peace Corps where he fell in love with the Ukrainian city of Lviv. He tells us that his deployment area is now the site of thousands of refugees and that he felt the need to organize the rally and involve the religious leaders.

“There are more Ukrainians in this community than we realize and we wanted to show this support to them and their families abroad,” he said.

As part of their message of solidarity, vigil attendees were asked to light their candles and pledge not to let the local sting of US sanctions against Russia, such as rising gas prices, breaking their support for the Ukrainian people.

“They’ve made a commitment that whatever penalties might hurt here, that they’ll help, they’ll continue to help and help those who can’t afford it and I think that’s a really beautiful promise to have taken,” Father Hutnick said.

Hutnick tells 47ABC that what struck him most was driving to the vigil, where he was shocked to see the number of street signs and businesses that had changed their colors for the night. Ukrainian flag; a clear blue sky above a wheat field.

“If there’s anything good that comes out of it and nothing good comes out of war, it’s that simple fact that it united the world,” he said.

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