WLU community comes together to support Ukraine

The altar in the Interfaith Chapel during the Peace Vigil for Ukraine Event.

On Thursday, March 17, West Liberty University (WLU) held a Peace for Ukraine event in the Interfaith Chapel. The event was organized by WLU’s Campus Ministries and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. It was held to promote both peace and kindness for Ukraine. Students, faculty, staff and a few members of the general public attended the event. Patrons were able to gather together in a peaceful setting to listen to music and pray.

The event began with the Director of Protestant Campus Ministry, Diann Nickerson, giving a few opening remarks that welcomed everyone who attended. There were several faculty, staff and students from various different religious backgrounds who said prayers in hopes that peace will be brought to the country and people of Ukraine. A few individuals who attended the event that are members of the campus community include Ann May Thinzar, Chris McPherson, Alexandria Black, Siddhi Prabhanjan Mahatole, Ishika Agarwal, Chahrazed Bouarada, Andrew Dalton, Julia Fisher, Shirley Carter, and Mohamed Isma Amara.

Nickerson invited WLU student Hailey Lewis and Kenneth (Ken) Cover, the piano accompanist from Warwood Methodist Church located in the city of Wheeling, W.Va., to come forward to lead the congregation in a musical selection entitled “Lord of All Hopefulness.” After Lewis finished singing a rendition of the song, Nickerson shared a devotional on why she decided to hold the event. Everyone in attendance was then led outside onto the Hoge Quadrangle (Quad) in front of Main Hall to participate in a candlelight vigil ceremony. During the candlelight vigil, WLU’s Student Government Association played a few songs they selected that represented both peace and unity.

A closing reflection was given by Dr. Monique L. Akassi, an interim Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leader and member of the President’s Cabinet. Nickerson then led everyone in attendance in a brief moment of silence so that they could pray and pay their respects. Everyone in attendance was led in the closing hymn “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

Nickerson said, “A few Sundays ago in my local church, many people were offering up prayers of concern for Ukraine and I thought it was something the campus community might want to do as well.” Nickerson noted that there will be two more opportunities to continue the prayer vigil. There will be a support board where students, faculty and staff will be able to write words of comfort and healing. There will also be a peace banner that those who want to show their support can help color. It will be hung up inside of the Interfaith Chapel on campus when it is finished.

Cody Dixon-Rushman, a junior at WLU said, “I thought it was a great way to bring the campus together in these trying times and helps give me hope that we will all get through this if we work together to help Ukraine and its people.”

Kaitlynn Wheeler, a senior at WLU said, “The candlelight vigil was great. We had prayers from the international students who represent different religions and cultures. I thought it was really good to do this for a country in need.”

Nickerson encourages students or groups on campus to contact her if they would like to host events similar to the “Peace for Ukraine” event. Nickerson thanks the following people and student organizations that helped make the event possible: Kate Billings, Shirley Carter, Ken Cover, Ryan Glanville, Dr. Linda Cowan, Chris McPherson, Dr. Monique Akassi, members of the Student Government Association, Mia Szabo and Maureen Zambito.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can show your support for Ukraine, you can research the following organizations: ActionAid USA, American Jewish Joint Distribution, Caritas International, Catholic Relief Services, Direct Relief, Episcopal Relief and Development, Heart to Heart International, Islamic Relief USA, Stabilization Support Services, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), UNICEF, World Hope International and Zhytomyr Community Fund.