Blessing a Congregational Banner

A black-and-white “Black Lives Matter” flag flying on a short flagpole being carried by a Black person with glasses and a procedure mask, in a march. The flag is the central part of the image, with the person's head, blurry, just visible in the lower left as they pass by the viewer.

Overview

This ritual, published in Blessing It All, is written for a congregation to bless a Black Lives Matter banner and raise it on their church building. It could easily be adapted for rededication of a banner, or for other banners that a congregation might display on their building to declare their values.

Materials

  • Black Lives Matter banner
  • [Optional] Materials to raise the banner during the ceremony

Setup

Participants should be gathered in such a way that those at the front can touch the banner. If you are able to set things up so that you can raise the banner smoothly during the ritual, that is ideal.

Make sure that all participants can access the space you are using for this ritual. This may mean you cannot bless the banner in the same place as you plan to display it. In this case, raise it after the benediction, instead of in the middle of the ritual as shown here.

Script

Opening Words

We believe that every person is worthy of love, imbued with inherent worth and dignity. Too often in this country, our institutions fall short of embodying this principle. Too often, Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color are told in words and deeds that their lives do not matter.

We are called to proclaim that Black Lives Matter here in [name of town or city] and all across our country. When hatred and discrimination rise up, we are called to rise up in love and work for justice for all. For we know that none of us can be free until we all are free.

Today we join with hundreds of other congregations, communities, and organizations across the country in displaying a Black Lives Matter banner outside our church. Today we commit to working together, and partnering with those in our community, to dismantle white supremacy, both in our hearts and in our institutions. May the words on this banner remind us every time we see them of our values and our commitments.

Blessing

I want to invite you now to join me in blessing our banner. If you are close to the banner, reach out a hand to touch it. If you are further away, reach out and put your hand on the shoulder of someone near you, so we can all be connected for this blessing. If you would rather others did not touch you physically, feel free to move closer to the edges of the group and cross your arms over your chest to signal your wishes to others. We will include you in spirit only.

[Pause and wait for everyone to get connected, offering additional direction as needed.]

We bless this banner, and each other, with courage. There are many who seek to silence those who would speak out on behalf of Black lives. There are parts of our own hearts that fear speaking out. May we be brave enough to speak and act in spite of our fears.

We bless this banner, and each other, with persistence. The wounds of white supremacy run deep; they will not be healed in a day, or a month, or a year.

This is a long, hard road we embark on today. May we find the endurance we need for the long-haul journey of racial justice.

We bless this banner, and each other, with solidarity. This is not a time to go it alone. We need one another to do this work. We need our partners in the community. May we be guided by our belief in the interconnectedness of our liberation.

We bless this banner, and each other, with love. For, in the words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” May we harness the power of revolutionary love to drive out the injustice that surrounds us.

May it be so. Blessed be, and amen.

Banner Raising

[Plan ahead of time with your congregation’s leaders to raise the banner as part of the ritual, if you can. You can include music here or just raise it in silence. If you can’t raise it now, describe here the plans for doing so later.]

Benediction

Friends, today is only the beginning of our journey. May you go with courage, persistence, solidarity, and love, ready to move forward together on the road to freedom.

Go in peace. Go in love.