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Richmond Beach UCC helps lead a candlelight vigil

Paying attention to careful distancing, Richmond Beach Congregational UCC in Shoreline hosted an outdoor Black Lives Matter solidarity candlelight vigil in the churchyard beside the busy Richmond Beach Road on Saturday, June 6.  

Richmond Beach UCC members help lead candlelight Black Lives Matter vigil. Photo courtesy of Dan Stern

Nearly 75 members and neighbors, many of whom had not seen each other in person for more than three months, communicated their collective grief and love through their COVID-care facemasks with tearful yet smiling eyes.

Beginning with Psalm 6 as a lament, a number of persons gave accounts of pain, activism, inspiration and heartbreak, said Dan Stern, spiritual director at Richmond Beach UCC.

“We stand together on the lands of the Coast Salish People,” RBCC member Aerika began her introduction. “We’re here to grieve, mourn and honor the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Manuel Ellis,  Breonna Taylor, Charlenna Lyles and so many black lives lost. We pray for justice, change, love and peace.” 

Having grown up a Black woman in the South during the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, RBCC member Beverly told of how often she heard her father lament, “How long, Lord, how long?”  

In referencing how some, when confronted with the words, “Black Lives Matter,” reply that all lives matter, Beverly spoke of Luke 15. 

It says: “The shepherd has 100 sheep.  One gets lost.  He goes to find his lost sheep and the 99 question him saying, ‘What about us, don’t we matter?’  And the shepherd says ‘Of course you matter but you are not the one in danger, the one is.’”

“Black Lives are in danger because their lives don’t matter,” said Beverly. 

Then a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin was added, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

At the conclusion, with candles lit against the darkening sky, the gathered faith community listened only to more than 8 minutes of a single human heartbeat.

This represented the entire length of time a knee was held down on George Floyd’s neck as he lay dying. As the heartbeat ended, everyone extinguished their individual flames. 

Asked to give a benediction, the Rev. Paul Ashby, pastor of RBUCC, stressed that “we aren’t finished, that waking up is only the start of a new day.”  

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Pacific NW Conference United Church of Christ News - Copyright © Summer 2020


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