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Juneteenth Is for All God's Children

Posted: May 26 2023 at 10:45 PM
Author: Drawn from United Methodist agency sources

It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that Black Americans in Texas learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was announced by President Abraham Lincoln two and half years earlier. The enslaved people in west Texas were the last to learn of their freedom.

The next year, Black Americans began celebrating this historic day through Juneteenth celebrations. Over time, annual observances spread to other states. These often include prayer, religious services, educational events, and festivals.

“Juneteenth ought not be a celebration only for those in the Africana tradition, but for all of God’s people,” write the worship resources staff of Discipleship Ministries. “As a part of the denominational efforts toward dismantling racism, Juneteenth can be an observance of solidarity and hope for God’s people and a sign of unity within the body of Christ.”

The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society urges the denomination to make Juneteenth a priority observance. In a press release on its website, the agency says it “stands with and advocates for the rights of all Black persons.

“Inspired by the Gospel and the church’s Social Principles, Church and Society is dedicated to making lasting change for racial justice and equity. Current advocacy priorities include fighting for voting rights, defending rights of formerly incarcerated persons, calling to reform police and criminal justice practices, access to safe and affordable housing, and ensuring educational equity.”

Discipleship Ministries suggests these hymns for Juneteenth observances:

  • “Freedom Is Coming” (The Faith We Sing, 2192)
  • “O, Freedom” (The Faith We Sing, 2194)
  • “Siyahamba” (The Faith We Sing, 2235)
  • “Goodness Is Stronger than Evil” (The Faith We Sing, 2219; Upper Room Worshipbook, 436)
  • “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (The United Methodist Hymnal, 519)
  • “We Shall Overcome” (The United Methodist Hymnal, 533)

Find more Juneteenth worship resources at Discipleship Ministries' Worship Planning page.

An engaging illustrated explanation of Juneteenth—and its historical Methodist connection—is depicted in Rev. Charlie Baber’s comic “Wesley Brothers." (See below.)

Wesley Bros Knowledge Is Power

Copyright Charlie Baber. Used by permission.

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