Kwanzaa was first created 40 years ago to give voice to African Americans, an evolving celebration of history, heritage, and culture.
Kwanzaa's seven days each have a specific value associated, each symbolized by lighting a candle.
As the week wears on, parishioners at St. Stephens in Lansing will celebrate unity, collective work, creativity, and faith, among others.
"The values of Kwanzaa are values we embrace year round," says Pastor Michael C. Murphy. "We want people to be uplifted and inspired."
Though it is specifically a holiday for people of African heritage, Murphy is always hopeful each year each value can teach the greater community
"We live in a time where we are racially polarized--polarized through class--and this is one way to bring people together," he says.