Candlelight vigil for Ukraine brings OBX community and faiths together

By on March 26, 2022

Olga Kramarenko lighting vigil candles for Connie Pounders and Nancy Byrne. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Carrying in the Ukrainian flag. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
The Rev. Dr. Gaye Morris and Anastasiia Forlano. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
The Rev. David Morris of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kitty Hawk. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
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As a cool breeze chilled the air at Dowdy Park on Friday night, about 100 people gathered to mark a month of war, suffering and destruction in Ukraine with a candlelight vigil. Organized by the Rev. David Morris of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Outer Banks and the North Dare Ministerial Association, the evening brought together different faiths of the Outer Banks to mark the passage of the month through prayer, song and community.

The evening was about the human cost to the Ukrainian people, and the members of the Ukrainian Outer Banks community who came to the stage bearing the Ukrainian flag were the focus of the evening.

Anastasiia Forlano, the spokesperson for the group on stage, carried a message of loss and gratitude.

“The first day of war is just as important as a person dying yesterday, today and every person that unfortunately is most likely going to die,” she said. “Thank you so much for showing up and showing your support. It is overwhelming and it means the world. Thank you so much for keeping us in your prayers.”

The Rev. Dr. Gaye Morris, wife of Rev. David Morris, spoke of the horror of what Ukrainians are enduring.

“They’re left hungry and cold without homes or livelihoods because of cruel and relentless Russian aggression,” she declared. “Today it’s estimated that roughly ten million Ukrainians, or about a quarter of the entire population of the country, have left their homes in the past month. More than half of Ukraine’s children are no longer living in their homes.”

Dr. Morris also assailed the deliberate targeting of civilians by Russian forces.

“Russia is using a deliberate strategy of attacking civilians to destabilize Ukraine,” she said, describing a number of instances where local mayors and city leaders were abducted by Russian troops.

It was with that thought in mind—the deliberate attempt to disrupt or destroy local government—that brought mayors Ben Cahoon of Nags Head, Elizabeth Morey of Southern Shores and Craig Garriss of Kitty Hawk to the stage.

The evening began with the music of local musician Ruth Wyand, and later during the ceremony, she led the people who were gathered in singing Bob Marley’s “One Love.” As the chorus was repeated by those who chose to sing, Wyand sang over that Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.”

Although he could not attend the vigil in person, Chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners Bob Woodard sent remarks that were read by the Rev. Spottswood Graves.

“Why would you want to kill your neighbors in Ukraine who are innocent and just want the opportunity to leave their lives as they see fit?” Woodard asked. His letter called upon Russian President Vladimir Putin to bring an end to the hostilities.

“I can’t help but be upset, distressed, troubled, unsettled and heartbroken. And what I have seen taking place in Ukraine I asked you to please continue to pray for the citizens of Ukraine,” he said.

The meaning of the candlelight vigil was explained by Rev. David Morris. As he spoke, members of the Ukrainian community lit the candles of the crowd.

“What is happening in the world right now, it seems to me, is that the people of Ukraine are spreading the light of democracy and freedom to the world,” he said. “And what I wanted to invite you all to do, is to be the ones who carry the weight around…to help us spread the light.”

Outer Banks Jewish community lay leader George Lurie addressed the crowd, asking for divine assistance in ending the bloodshed.

The final prayer for the evening was from Rev. Dr. Jody Moore of the Outer Banks Outer Banks Presbyterian Church, a prayer that touched upon those same themes, but ended with a note of hope.

“When we see the horrors of war, there are times we can feel so powerless. But the truth is, we have power. Each of us has the strength that brought us here tonight to be a part of this community…And now as we light these candles, we know that the candles produce just a small flame. At first it may seem so insignificant in comparison to the jolting glass of bombs and artillery. The light that shines in the darkness is our way of shining God’s grace into the depths of despair. This light represents our common will that destruction, war, violence and death are not the only things that matters.”





  • Chris Smyers

    Guess I missed the vigil for the Afghanistan Children… let’s wag that dog.

    Saturday, Mar 26 @ 5:57 pm
  • resident

    Go ahead Chris . Do it.

    Tuesday, Mar 29 @ 2:38 pm