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Liverpool churches proud of their Eurovision link with Ukraine

15 May 2023

Alamy

Ukraine’s national colours surround Loreen, who performed the winning entry, Tattoo, in the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool on Saturday

Ukraine’s national colours surround Loreen, who performed the winning entry, Tattoo, in the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool on Saturday

CHURCH doors were thrown open and buildings were lit up as part of Liverpool’s show of solidarity with Ukraine last week, as the city hosted the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine.

Liverpool Parish Church and Liverpool Cathedral hosted ecumenical peace vigils in the week leading up to the Eurovision final, as part of an initiative, Imagine Peace, organised by the Methodist Church and the Salvation Army.

Volunteers conducted prayer walks around city landmarks throughout the week, and, on Wednesday evening, the city’s RC Metropolitan Cathedral hosted an ecumenical service.

The Church Times columnist Paul Vallely was in Liverpool for the final (Comment, 12 May), and said that there was a “definite sense of it being done on behalf of Ukraine: it wasn’t Liverpool taking it over, but Liverpool being a kind of surrogate for Ukraine”. Many of the revellers who had arrived in the city for Eurovision had incorporated the Ukrainian flag into their outfits, he said.

“I think Liverpool turned into a little Ukraine,” said the Revd Dr Taras Khomych, a Ukrainian RC priest in Liverpool and a lecturer in theology at Liverpool Hope University. “Ukrainians feel this, and they are proud about this. We are delighted to see all these flags; it is very warming to see all of this happening,” he said in an interview with Premier Christian Radio on Saturday.

The Rector of Liverpool, Canon Crispin Pailing, said: “This was about Ukraine, but also about how we can work together as an international community. This is a unifying event that has brought together many nations, and that’s a great thing, and a privilege for Liverpool to host.”

Crispin PailingThe Ukrainian Minister for Culture, Oleksandr Tkachenko (left, seated), loses a game of chess to a local champion who is a Ukrainian teenager, Marek Korsinsky, watched by Canon Pailing (right, standing); Halyna Horyhorenko; the Ukrainian Ambassador, Vadym Prystaiko; and others. Even two inflatable songbirds appear to take an interest

The Eurovision Village, sited next to the church, was an “amazing experience”, Canon Pailing said, and provided a fantastic opportunity for visitors and locals to learn about Ukrainian history and culture.

“The whole of the UK has been at the forefront of the international response to the war in Ukraine. Liverpool has played its part, and has welcomed Ukrainian people fleeing the war, as we have in our church community; and Eurovision drew together that sense of hospitality and welcome that has been ongoing for the past 15 months.”

On Saturday, the day of the final, Canon Pailing hosted politicians and cultural representatives from the UK and Ukraine, including Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko; the UK Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society, Stuart Andrew MP; the Ukrainian Minister for Culture, Oleksandr Tkachenko; and his deputy, Halyna Hryhorenko.

In honour of Ukraine’s passion for the game, the church had set up opportunities for members of the public to play chess. During the visit, Mr Tkachenko participated in game of chess against Marek Korsinsky, a Ukrainian teenager who lives in Liverpool.

Two large inflatable nightingales, the national bird of Ukraine, were installed at the church and helped to draw visitors to the site. The birds were part of a series of 12 around the city, each decorated with motifs in homage to different regions of Ukraine.

Liverpool Cathedral, meanwhile, hosted a video installation by the Ukrainian artist Katya Buchatsk, tracing a journey from Izyum, a city in the east of Ukraine, to Merseyside, representing the experiences of those who were forced to flee the war.

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