Lights and prayers as churches mark anniversary of full-scale invasion of Ukraine

Cathedrals will be floodlit in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, candles will be lit and services, prayer vigils and other events will take place across the country in churches to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Many of the Church of England’s Cathedrals and churches are to hold prayer vigils  – some over a 24-hour period – with contributions from Ukrainian refugees, choirs and other members of the community.

The services are being arranged as the Government announced a national moment of silence at 11am on Friday in solidarity with Ukraine.

In rural as well as urban areas, parishes where families are hosting Ukrainian refugees will open their doors for prayer, reflection and music to mark the anniversary.

At Bradford Cathedral an hour-long service on Friday evening will include lament for the impact of the war, prayer for peace in Ukraine, and music from the city’s Ukrainian choirs.

The Bishop of Bradford, Toby Howarth, said: “Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine one year ago has caused misery not only for Ukrainians but has led to immense hardship for many others across the world. 

“It is important that we mark this anniversary standing together as communities across Bradford in solidarity with all those who suffer from war and occupation.”

Coventry Cathedral will join the Coventry Ukrainian community to commemorate the anniversary on Friday evening with a procession moving to the ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral for a candlelit vigil.

Mary Gregory, Canon for Arts and Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral, said: “It is an honour for us to gather with Coventry’s Ukrainian community to mark the first anniversary of the invasion of their country.

“The vigil will give us an opportunity to acknowledge the terrible pain and loss of the last year, to remember those who have died, and to pray for those in danger. It will also allow us to look forward in hope to a better, more peaceful future.

“Holding together lament and hope in this way is, of course, embodied by Coventry Cathedral, where the Ruins speak of the devastation of war and the new Cathedral points to the possibility of a new, transformative beginning.”

Wells Cathedral will host a devotional performance of the Duruflé Requiem on Sunday as part of its vigil marking the anniversary, remembering the many lives changed and lost in the conflict.

Liverpool Cathedral and the Roman Catholic Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral will host a special vigil for the anniversary on Friday, starting on the plaza of the Metropolitan Cathedral before continuing later at Liverpool Cathedral.

Bristol Cathedral is hosting a photography exhibition in support of the emergency and crisis response charity RE:ACT Disaster Response. 
The Dean of Bristol, Mandy Ford, said: “We are honoured to highlight the vital work RE:ACT are doing in Ukraine. As the anniversary of the war in Ukraine arrives, we pray for the victims, for the wounded and the captive, the grieving and the homeless, for those fleeing from war and those who remain.”

The rural St Andrew’s Church in Colyton, Devon, is holding a 24-hour vigil for peace beginning on Sunday morning. Father Steven Martin, Rector of the Holyford Mission Community, said: “Our 24-Hour Vigil is about offering some solidarity to the people of Ukraine.

“The Vigil is for Ukraine and all places where there is strife and conflict, especially those places which don’t hit the headlines.

“I am hoping that it will be a chance for people to come into church and find a bit of light and peace in their own lives and situations, too.”