Pastor Linnéa Clark’s comments from the Elkins Park community vigil in solidarity with Charlottesville, VA, in the wake of the events of August 11 and 12.

On Friday night, people of many races and religious backgrounds prayed together in a Charlottesville church for peace, for justice, and for an end to racism, xenophobia, and discrimination. Outside, angry people chanting Nazi slogans surrounded them with burning torches. Their very presence was an existential threat to the people inside the church — and to communities like ours.

Tonight, we gather as a community of many races and religious backgrounds to reflect together. We condemn white supremacy, antisemitism, and Islamophobia as evil. We seek peace, reconciliation, and a way forward.

Instead of torches, we hold candles, burning for peace instead of for violence or intolerance. We are holding yahrzeit candles, Shabbat candles, and candles from Christmas Eve services. Our candles demonstrate the diversity of our community.

Candles are more vulnerable than torches. They flicker in the wind, and sometimes they go out. But when we gather together, we can keep one another’s candles alight. With collaborative action, we can keep our dream of peace and justice alive.

In An African Prayer Book, Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote these words:

Goodness is stronger than evil;

Love is stronger than hate;

Light is stronger than darkness;

Life is stronger than death;

Victory is ours through [the One] who loves us.

Care for your neighbors. Help one another keep your candles alight. Their light is a glowing testimony that goodness is stronger than evil.