Ipswich Vigil for Ukraine
To remember the first anniversary of the recent invasion of Ukraine, an Ipswich Vigil for Ukraine took place on the Ipswich Town Hall steps on Friday 24 February.
Hosted in a partnership between Ukrainian community members, Ipswich in Prayer, Ipswich Borough Council, St Mary-le-Tower and Together for Ipswich, the event brought together approximately 300-400 people for the purpose of 'prayer, solidarity and unity'. Many of them wore blue and yellow clothing, and were draped in blue and yellow flags.
Opening with his much-loved song 'Prayer for Peace' (written as a direct response to the Ukrainian crisis), Andy Rayner and his choir set the scene on what was to be a poignant but extraordinarily atmospheric evening. As the sun set and darkness descended on the Cornhill, the crowd became increasingly aware of the yellow and blue hue that floodlit the grandeur of the Town Hall.
Hosted by Revd Tom Mumford (vicar, St Mary-le-Tower Church, Ipswich), and with introductory contributions from Councillor John Cook (Mayor of Ipswich), and His Hon Judge Martyn Levett (Honorary Recorder of Ipswich), Alan Cutting (Together for Ipswich Ukraine Response lead) then thanked the various agencies, sponsors and employers who have contributed to the welcome of our Ukrainian community. He went on to appeal for the ongoing support of our guests, outlining the challenges they are facing to secure employment and independent housing options, before reading Psalm 27.
With Liz Beaton by her side, Ukrainian Natalie Lawrence then prayed passionately for her country and its people - "Please Lord, bring Peace to Ukraine, Freedom, and a Bright New Future! Bring Justice, Righteousness, Healing, and Reconciliation. - Господи, принеси Мир Україні, Свободу та Світле Нове Майбутнє! Принеси Справедливість, Праведність, Зцілення та Примирення."
Natalie invited the crowd to say the Lord's Prayer together, each in his or her own language, before a beautiful, almost haunting rendition of Mykola Lysenko's "Bozhe velykyj, jedynyj" ("Oh Lord, Almighty and Only", and also called Prayer for Ukraine on poetry by Oleksandr Konysky), rang out across the silent Cornhill, while the crowd, some of them quietly weeping, reflected during a minute's silence, and candles were lit and torch lights shone from one hundred peoples' phones.
The evening ended with the bells of St Mary-le-Tower calling back to us across the town, and hundred's of people who had braved the bitterly cold evening stayed longer still, to meet, pray, hug and weep with one another.