UCC commemorates Juneteenth, exploring ‘healing as freedom, freedom as healing’

The comforting words to the African American spiritual “There is a Balm in Gilead” remind us of the freeing power there is when one finds healing. This Juneteenth, United Church of Christ congregations are invited to discover the healing balms that can still “make the wounded whole” and “heal a sin-sick world” today.

On June 20, the Racial Justice Ministries and the Join the Movement campaign will host a webinar — “Healing as Freedom, Freedom as Healing: Lineages of Emancipation Toward Wholeness” — to commemorate Juneteenth. The webinar will explore the healing practices that have “sustained freedom in the bones of our ancestors, before and after emancipation.” (Register for the webinar here.)

A centuries-long struggle

In addition to discovering the music, prayers, poetry and art that have inspired, consoled, sustained and empowered Black Americans throughout the centuries-long struggle for freedom, the rich history of Juneteenth will also be discussed.

Attendees will remember how on June 19, 1865, Blacks in Texas finally learned of their freedom — two years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. (It would take another 156 years before the nation’s “second Independence Day” officially became a federal holiday, with President Joe Biden signing the Juneteenth bill on June 17, 2021.)

The Rev. Velda Love, minister for Racial Justice and lead for Join the Movement campaign, noted that Juneteenth serves within many African American communities as their Independence Day as opposed to July 4. It’s reach, though, is growing throughout the country as more congregations and communities learn about the history and join in on the celebration — and the work that is still to be done to ensure freedom for all.

The Rev. Velda Love will join activists and educators in exploring “healing as freedom” in a June 20 webinar commemorating Juneteenth.

“The movement for equity and full inclusion remains on the hearts and minds of each generation. Juneteenth is a day of remembrance that will continue for generations to come,” said Love. “Our commitment as a family of faith is to come together and remember that the freedom and liberation of African Americans is tied to the liberation and freedom of our siblings who cannot experience life without war and suffering across globe.”

As Juneteenth approaches, Love envisions “congregations remaining on a journey of living into God’s vision” of full inclusion beyond June 19.

“We are all created in the image and likeness of God. There is no hierarchy within the human family. There are no superior people groups. African Americans have sacred stories that are historical, contemporary and beautiful,” said Love. “We can all thrive and live into the abundance of God’s grace and love when we open our hearts for the kindom of God to manifest today on earth. That’s what I envision. May it be so.”

For more Juneteenth resources, click here.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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