From Drums to Harp Strings, People of Different Faiths Gathered in Reno to Pray for Peace in Eastern Europe

Reyden Morett, Katelyn Welsh, and Emily Richards report on Sunday’s candlelight vigil held at Saint Catherine of Siena Episcopal Church.

The sun was shining as cars began to turn into the church parking lot off of Double R Blvd Sunday afternoon. People from different faiths poured into the doors at Saint Catherine of Siena Episcopal Church to participate in a multi-faith vigil. Each attendee was warmly welcomed with a smile from Carol Lacy, a regular greeter at the church.

“When folks come in I hand them a program, a candle and a big smile,” said Lacy, “We are all God’s children and we have the same God regardless of our faith.”

For anyone coming in late, the rumble of the Taiko drums could be heard in the parking lot as Rieko Shimbo and another member performed a Shinto prayer. The pair beat a wooden drum erected on a stand at eye level in rhythmic beats that left the attendees mesmerized.

Rows of chairs lined the room from all sides and the faint smell of burning candle wax was in the air. Extra chairs had to be added to the aisles to make room for numerous attendees. Thomas Blake, a rector at Saint Catherine, jointly organized the event with Hindu statesman Rajan Zed.

Rajan Zed and Thomas Blake organized the multi-faith prayer vigil at Saint Catherine of Siena Episcopal Church on Sunday afternoon. They have organized several interfaith gatherings in Reno in response to significant occurrences.

“I believe it is very important,” said Father Thomas Blake, “despite all of the differences our various faiths have, when we agree on something as important as this, it is really important for us to come together and make a statement.”

James R. Eaglesmith and Sevina M. Versales performed a song, “Under One Sky.”

“Hold someone’s hand, even if it’s your own,” said Eaglesmith midsong and continued singing the lyrics. “We are one nation, under one sky, we are one land.”

James R. Eaglesmith and Sevina M. Versales perform “Under one sky,” encouraging the audience to sing along.

Prayers were said in Greek, Arabic, Pali, Hebrew, Spanish, Sanskrit and through instruments such as the violin, harp, guitar and drums. All echoed a prayer for Ukraine, for peace and for the love of one another.

“Peace should not be a thing that has to be prayed for,” said Danae M. Miller, the president of Sabbat Celebrations. “Peace should just be.”

Rieko Shimbo and another member of Tsurunokai Taiko perform a Shinto prayer through Taiko drums, a traditional Japanese instrument. In temples throughout Japan, Taiko is played as a symbol of purification and to dispel evil spirits.

Couples and friends could be seen holding hands, even reaching for those around them to connect with one another. Some clapped after certain prayers, others spoke the different prayers in unison with the representative of their faith, their heads bowed. After the closing remarks by the Hindu cleric Rajan Zed, attendees could be heard wishing one another well and to have hope and faith.

“It feels powerful and it feels like the word is really getting out there,” said Marilyn McDonald, who practices Christian Science. “The spirit is hearing us.”

McDonald, who does not attend Saint Catherine of Siena Episcopal Church, explained how she finds hope in interfaith events because of how they bring the community together. She is hopeful that the prayers spoken and performed are making a difference in Eastern Europe.

Other festivities included choir performances, a peaceful harp melody that welcomed guests as they found their seats and statements from a Reno police commander and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s representative.

The United States and European Union are currently considering banning imports of Russian oil and gas, as the invasion of Russian forces stretches into a second week in Ukraine, with over a million people displaced and hundreds killed.

Reporting for the Reynolds Sandbox by Reyden Morett, Katelyn Welsh, and Emily Richards



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Reynolds Sandbox

Reynolds Sandbox

Showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab in Reno.