Central Florida churches host prayer vigil for Ukraine in College Park

Several churches are continuing to collect supplies, donations for Ukrainians

COLLEGE PARK, Fla. – A crowd of about 60 church and community members gathered in College Park Tuesday night to hold a candlelight vigil to express their support for the people of Ukraine.

The event was held at 7 p.m. in front of Church on the Drive, a nondenominational place of worship located at 1914 Edgewater Dr. in College Park.

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“We are inviting everyone in our community and other churches to come out and pray together for peace in Ukraine and around the world,” Church on the Drive Pastor Josh Plant said in a Facebook post.

Igor Melmik attended the prayer vigil. He said he was born and raised in Ukraine, moved to Russia when he was 22 to serve as a pastor, then move to the United States in 2007.

“My heart is over there, but (I) cannot do much. I can call to them, I can talk to them, I can pay for them, and we get some help here and send it over there,” Melmik said.

He added hasn’t been able to get a hold of his brother-in-law for several days. With his nieces and nephew fleeing to the western side of the country, he said he’s sending them necessities as they continue their journey to safety.

Melmik said because they only brought a few things with them, they still needed clothes, personal hygiene items and food.

Debi Bri Miller also attended Tuesday’s candlelight vigil. She said she was showing her support for her friend in Orlando, who has family in the war zone.

“Her family lives in Kyiv and so we’ve been very in tune to watching the news to see what’s going on and very concerned about her family,” Miller said.

Plant said the faith based community is united, calling for peace for both Ukraine and Russia.

“They are trying to understand how could this happen. Everything seemed fine and suddenly it’s not,” Plant said.

Representatives from five different churches helped lead the vigil to honor the lives lost in Ukraine amid the war, including from St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, College Park United Methodist, Whole Life Church, Belong Church and Church on the Drive.

Several churches say they plan to continue collecting donations and supplies to send to Europe.

To find more ways to help, click here.

About the Authors:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.