TAMPA BAY, Fla — Members of different congregations gathered Wednesday to show solidarity for Ukraine and to serve as a reminder that Ukrainians in the Tampa Bay area are not alone.
The Epiphany of Our Lord Ukrainian Church hosted a day of prayer at the steps of their St. Petersburg church.
Olya Czerkas is a member of the church and was born in Ukraine. She said the show of support from the community is overwhelming.
"I see that no matter if you are Ukrainian or not you still feel the pain," Czerkas said.
Czerkas still has family in Ukraine.
"The first time that I spoke to somebody she told me that when she heard that things were happening was when she first heard in the middle of the night the planes flying over and then she heard the alarms going," Czerkas said. "They said they're staying. They're afraid. She's afraid because she has high blood pressure. Her medicine is running out."
As the fighting continues in Czerkas first home of Ukraine, the support is shown by the hundreds in the second place she calls home at the Epiphany of our Lord Ukrainian Catholic church.
"We're hoping that unifying we can all pray in our own way to show support to the Ukrainian people," Czerkas said.
About a dozen faith-based organizations gathered at the steps of the St. Pete church.
Denominations were replaced by words of encouragement and support.
Reverend Dr. Guierllmo Marquez-Sterling helped organize the event.
"I thought it was important that feet matched the prayers," Rev. Marquez-Sterling said.
Rev. Marquez-Sterling is with Pass-A-Grille Community church and has congregation members who are directly impacted by the fighting in Ukraine.
He said it's one thing to put a message on social media to show support but it's another to put it into action.
"Too often we are divided. Too often we are pointing fingers at each other. Too often do we stay in our own little comfort zone and this is an opportunity for us to build common ground," Rev. Marquez-Sterling said.
Languages, beliefs, and denominations may be different but Wednesday's prayer vigil served as a reminder that in the end, we're all human,.
Members of the Epiphany Ukrainian Catholic church are collecting donations to send to Poland and surrounding Ukrainian countries to help those who were forced to flee.
For more information on how to help visit https://www.epiphanyukrch.com/humanitarian-aid-to-ukraine.html.