As we approach Juneteenth, it's a time of profound reflection, celebration, and awareness for Black and African American communities across our nation. Yet, it also offers an opportunity for Majority Culture Ministries to join in solidarity, fostering understanding, respect, and a more equitable and inclusive fellowship.
Juneteenth, often known as Freedom Day, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, marking the day that the last enslaved Black and African Americans were informed of their freedom on June 19, 1865. This day of observation is not just a remembrance of historical emancipation but a testament to the resilience, unity, and strength of African Americans.
Observing Juneteenth should never be a mere tokenistic act, but a thoughtful and informed engagement, designed to support and respect the African American community. Here are some thoughtful ways you can join in prayerfully and practically.
Educate Yourself and Your Congregation
Understanding precedes action. Take time to educate yourself and your congregation about the history and significance of Juneteenth. Invite African American speakers, theologians, or historians to share their perspectives and experiences. Utilize books, films, and articles to delve into the history and contemporary issues surrounding race and inequity in the United States.
Take time for prayer and worship sessions focused on racial reconciliation. Prayer has the power to soften hearts, change attitudes, and spur actions. Use this time to ask for God's guidance and strength in addressing racial disparities and fostering unity.
Acknowledge and Address Systemic Racism
The most challenging step is often acknowledging that systemic racism exists and is contrary to God's vision for humanity. Discuss with your congregations and ministries the ways in which systemic racism affects the lives of African Americans. Ask God's forgiveness for any conscious or unconscious part we may have played in perpetuating these structures and seek His guidance in dismantling them.
Act on Your Prayers
Faith, as James tells us, if not accompanied by action, is dead. While you educate yourself and your congregation, pray for wisdom and guidance, it's also time to act. Find local organizations that work towards racial justice and support them. Organize community events that promote racial understanding and unity. Use your influence to advocate for policies and reforms that address racial inequities.
Host a community-wide Juneteenth celebration, honoring African American history and culture. Include music, food, and art that celebrate African American heritage, making sure to invite African American leaders and community members to play prominent roles in the planning and execution. This will not only honor the African American community but also expose your congregation to the richness and diversity of their culture.
Build Sustainable Relationships
Incorporating diversity should not be a one-off or annual event. Form relationships with African American churches and organizations in your community. Look for ways to collaborate and support each other in your ministries.
Observing Juneteenth in a respectful and supportive manner is an opportunity for Majority Culture Ministries to walk alongside our African American brothers and sisters. By taking the time to educate ourselves, address systemic racism, and take practical action, we can move towards the unity that is central to our faith.
As the National African American Missions Council, we commend your efforts to stand in solidarity with the Black and African American community during this Juneteenth observation. We believe that through understanding, respect, and love, we can build a more just and equitable church where everyone is truly valued.
Together in His service,
Eddy Paul Thomas
COO | The National African American Missions Council