On January 20, UCM Executive Director Rev. Evan Young delivered a prayer at the beginning of the 20th annual MLK Silent March at Ohio University. It was an extemporaneous and heartfelt prayer, and it has taken us some time to find a recording and transcribe it for sharing. We’re indebted to Athens NEWS Associate Editor Conor Morris for sharing with us a recording of the event, our transcription of which we now share with you.

“When I accepted the invitation to perform this service, I acknowledged that it felt a little bit odd to be a white man offering an invocation on this particular day, on this particular occasion, around this particular issue in our lives and in this historical moment. But I was reminded recently of the words of Nelson Mandela, who said, much more eloquently than I could hope to, that “the oppressor and the oppressed must both be liberated.” So it is in this humble spirit of acknowledging both my own complicity in and my own oppression by the systems and structures that Dr. King crusaded against, that I invite you into prayer with me:

For ourselves, for each other, for our communities, local to global and beyond, for any God or power that lives in our hearts and lifts up our spirits, we offer this prayer. Lord, this road we have been walking has been long, and like so many roads it has had its straight stretches and its torturous stretches, its difficult and dangerous passes, and passes in which we are tempted to sink into comfort and forgetfulness. This particular passage we’ve come to feels in many ways dangerous. We have witnessed the rise of sentiments and systems of white supremacy; we have witnessed the increasing permission felt by some of us to act on and argue for the otherness, oppression, and marginalization of many of us. And yet we know, because we have been shown by so many before us, that however long, however difficult our road is, there is an end, a destination, that is better, more whole, more holy than this place. And we know, today, in this group, that there are many who continue on that path with us, carrying that same vision in their hearts. May our feet be guided on the path toward justice. May our hearts be buoyed up by our companions on that path. And may we return with steadfastness and resolve to the work of making that road by walking, so that all may experience the liberation that some have promised and that is our common vision. This we pray in all the names we give to you who have ever been beyond naming. Amen; blessed be.”

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