The use of candles in worship is an ancient tradition. The light reminds us of The Light that shines in the darkness and can not be overcome. The smoke symbolizes our prayers and petitions climbing toward heaven directing our thoughts to the God who hears. Many denominations include a votive display in their sanctuaries so worshippers can say prayers and light candles during the service. Though, not as common in Baptist churches, a display of votive candles during the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent can be very meaningful. In fact, because it isn’t as common in your local Baptist church, the chance to light a candle in worship can be even more meaningful for participants. As part of a Holy Week display of candles, members of our church in Maryland painted votive candleholders.

This collaborative art project began as one for the children in the church, but when the adults saw how much fun it was (and how easy) they joined in as well. What helped make the craft doable, for all ages and abilities, was the use of paint markers. You can find paint markers at arts and crafts stores and online. Simply shake, tap the tip of the marker on some scrap paper to get the paint flowing, and use it as you would any ink marker. Paint markers can be more precise than using paint and a brush, so are ideal for very young crafters, older crafters who have loss dexterity in their hands, and neurodiverse crafters.

The glass votive holders should be cleaned before hand with alcohol or according to instructions with the paint markers to remove dirt and oils. Some of our artists free handed designs while others used stencils I provided of Christian symbols that coordinated with our Lenten theme. Because we were working on clear glass, it was easy to tape the paper pattern to the inside of the votive candle holder and let participants trace the stencil from the outside and paint it.

Some glass paints need to be finished in the oven for the paint to set. For our craft it was enough to let the candleholders dry for 24 hours.

The painted votive candleholders were a nice addition to our Holy Week display, and all the more meaningful because we had created them together as a congregation. We did a similar activity for Advent with our congregation in Toronto. When each liturgical season was over, members were able to take their candleholders home to enjoy them.