You are here

Host a candlelight vigil

A candlelight vigil is a great way to reflect on poverty and the impact it has on our lives, the community and the world. Candlelight vigils can be planned in coordination with other Act! Speak! Build! Week activities.

The following steps can help you plan your candlelight vigil.

Step 1

Find a location.

  • The location should provide the right atmosphere for a vigil and enough space for the anticipated number of participants.
  • Reserve this location through the appropriate channels at your school or community.


Step 2

Design the format of your candlelight vigil. Often candlelight vigils include one or more of the following elements:

  • Prayer.
  • Group or individual reflection.
  • A speaker who can relate to the subject on a personal level.
  • Silence.
  • Physical monument or memorial.
  • Luminaries.
  • Habitat for Humanity homeowner stories.
  • Visual displays that represent the number of people living in poverty or the number of deaths that could be prevented through better living conditions.
  • An open space where vigil attendees have the opportunity to express their thoughts through writing and art work.


Step 3

Publicize the vigil and any event planned in coordination with it.

  • Invite groups and individuals to attend.
  • Write and publish a press release to publicize your event through local newspapers.


Step 4

Purchase enough candles to cover the number of anticipated participants.

  • Battery-powered candles can also be used if necessary.


Prayers and readings

“In Gratitude” Poem
Each line of the poem begins with “In Gratitude,” and the students choose what to say next. Each student produces a list of what he or she is most thankful for.
(Source: New Horizons School Westside, Los Angeles, California)

Litany for Shelter

Leader: O Lord, by whose cross all enmity is brought to an end,
People: Break down the walls that separate us.

Leader: Help us understand how to tear down the former things.
People: Show us how to bring renewal to your world.

Leader: Awaken in us the passion to dream.
People: Guide us as we take small steps toward great visions.

Leader: We ask that you give us wisdom and strength.
People: Patience and compassion.

Leader: Lord, who can make all things new, open our eyes.
People: Let us see in our own communities and around the globe those who are without shelter.

Leader: Today we lift up to you those who yearn for a simple, decent and affordable place to call home.
People: Give us courage to respond.

Leader: As we give of ourselves, let us be grateful for those who give to us.
People: By the power of your Spirit, make us one. Amen.

Prayer to End Poverty
May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships so that we may live deep within our hearts. May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people so that we may work for economic justice for all people.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, hunger, homelessness and rejection so that we may reach out our hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in the world so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.