Our Candle for Racial Justice

by Lauren Shallish, Co-chair, Worship Associates

The lighting of the candles of fellowship — and their accompanying words— can be found at the outset of every service alongside our land acknowledgement. The candles are a familiar refrain read aloud by the worship associates as we name the congregation’s shared commitments and ideals.

The candles are also an invitation: A reminder to rededicate ourselves to the work of creating a world that is caring and rooted in justice. They represent the sacred practice of acting in ways that center communities, experiences, and histories that are marginalized, targeted, or rendered invisible in harmful or colonizing practices of faith or spirituality.

Our five candles attend to peace, race/racism, gender/sexuality, disability, and environmental justice. In this on-going crisis climate in which we all find ourselves, a group of worship associates revisited the existing text on racial justice in collaboration with congregants, the racial justice ministry, Rev. Kim, sacred texts, and others.

The candle for racial justice now reads:

“We work to build a race-conscious and multicultural community through our actions to dismantle racism and other intersecting oppressions in ourselves and our institutions. We commit to the work of anti-racism and collective liberation.”

These changes represent our intention to not only acknowledge but act.

We began our revisions with a call for race-consciousness and multiculturalism. While it is common to hear calls for cultural competence, race and culture are different concepts. Being mindful of differences or cultural traditions is not the same as confronting racism and white supremacy. Here we aspired to create wording that attended to injustice and named, celebrated, and honored the legacies and contributions of a myriad of communities.

We intentionally avoided terms like “color-blind,” which perpetuates ableist beliefs about people with disabilities as passive and un-knowing. The term “race-conscious” calls us to acknowledge race and racism in our every day lives and institutions, to spark awareness and action.

The final call for collective liberation reminds us that we are all in relationship and interconnected. As Audre Lourde writes, “There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives.”

With gratitude for the support and sense of community evidenced throughout this entire revision process, we look forward to joining with you to say these words together on Sunday.