BELFAST — About two dozen people gathered at the First Church in Belfast, UCC, March 13 for a vigil in solidarity with Ukraine. The group stood in brisk weather for the roughly 30-minute gathering in honor of the many people enduring cold weather without heat or power in Ukraine.

More than two dozen people gathered at a vigil for Ukraine at the First Church in Belfast, UCC, March 13. Photo by Kendra Caruso

The Rev. Joel Krueger and the Rev. Dr. Kate Winters, co-pastors, led those present in prayers and songs for the country. Some people shared thoughts and poems in honor of Ukrainians and their perseverance. On a table in front of the church was a purple tablecloth in honor of the season of  Lent with three items, a Celtic prayer icon, a candle with the words “honor peace” written on it and a brick to symbolize building a better world.

Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24 and has bombed several cities, killing hundreds of people and injuring hundreds more, according to several news sources. Ukraine gained its independence from Russia more than 30 years ago when the Soviet Union dissolved. Since then, it has organized itself as a democracy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has remained in the country, offering words of hope to citizens through the media. Many Ukrainians are fighting back against Russian aggression with makeshift weapons like Molotov cocktails.

Over a million people have fled to surrounding countries, but men between the ages of 18 and 60 are being made to stay and fight. Some citizens have returned to the country to fight. Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine have fallen short and Russia has been accused of violating ceasefires intended to allow civilians to exit the country.

Churches in Milbridge, Monroe and Blue Hill also held vigils at the same time Sunday. Winters said there has been so much hate and anger at the violence that she wanted to organize a gathering with love, because love is stronger than hate.

The church is raising funds to donate to Ukrainians displaced by the Russian attacks. Checks can be made payable to the church with “Ukraine” written in the memo line and sent to 104 Church St. in Belfast. For more information on donating, contact Krueger or Winters at 338-2282.