The following is the text of the Bishop Megan’s Juneteenth Message:
Greetings, my friends in Christ. I hope that you are well. As we are moving into summer. We are coming very close to the celebration of Juneteenth. We celebrate it, of course, on this Sunday, which is also Father’s Day. And it is observed on Monday June 20th. You may want to remember what Juneteenth is about.
You may recall that on January 1st, 1863, Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all slaves were free at the end of the Civil War. However, that freedom was not actually delivered right away. For instance, in Galveston, Texas, when General Gordon Granger came by with his union troops, two and a half years later, he discovered that either the news had gotten through or just the planters were interested in freeing their slaves. And so, in June of 1865, the general got up into a balcony so that he could address everybody at the town square. And he declared that Emancipation Proclamation again and said, in addition, that these black men, women, and children were equal.
It was a dramatic time. And as we are remembering back on this day, we’re honoring all the stories that are connected to Juneteenth. We are going to hear stories and remember stories of great courage, great joy, and great sorrow. Great joy, because this was the moment that the black women, children, and men, who were slaves have been praying for, weeping for, waiting for, working for, for many, many years. Great courage, because it was at this point, with no economic support for them whatsoever and facing horrible racial violence, they still made a way for themselves and found a way to establish their families. And great sorrow, because we know that the aspiration of Emancipation Day is not yet complete, despite our best hopes for that we see evidence around us that justice is not complete. It has not been delivered. There is no safety where there should be. There are no opportunities as they should be. And racism raises its ugly head everywhere that we look.
But we are a people of hope. So, I invite you to commemorate Juneteenth, this weekend, in several ways. First, follow the links at the bottom of this page and learn more about the accounts of that day and the courageous lives that have followed and the need for justice in our communities and in our world.
Second, learn some stories about your own family. What generation was alive? How many generations back was it when that proclamation was first made in 1863. For myself, my grandfather, on my father’s side, was one year old. One year old. That is darn close to living memory in my family. I invite you to find out who in your family was alive at that time.
Where did they live? Were they touched in any way by this proclamation? And lastly, I invite you to join me in prayer. Prayer for justice for our black communities, prayer for justice for all those of any color and diversity, because we follow a God who freed the slaves and has made us all free in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Let us pray.
We pray, O Lord, for change. Jesus, you revealed God through your wise words and loving deeds, and we encounter you still today in the faces of those whom society has pushed to the margins. Guide us, through the love of you to the love that you revealed, to establish justice you proclaimed, that all peoples might dwell in harmony and peace, united by that one love that binds us to each other, and to you. And most of all, Lord, change our routine worship and work into a genuine encounter with you, the living God, and with our better selves so that our lives will be changed for the good of all. We ask this in Christ name. Amen.