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Kate Ott has most recently served in ministry as the Director of Communications and Guest Experience at a thriving multi-campus church in Southwest Michigan. Leveraging a diverse profess... read more

Juneteenth: What Churches Need to Know

Overview: Why Juneteenth matters historically, why we should be talking about Juneteenth as Christ-followers, and how you can care thoughtfully for the Black community every day of the year.  Join the conversation inside the Church Marketers Facebook Group here.  

This article recaps an interview with Pastor Larry Weathers.

What is Juneteenth?

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image,  in the image of God he created them;  male and female he created them.” Gen 1:26-27 

June 19th, also known as Juneteenth, is the date that hundreds of thousands of slaves were freed in Texas. Taking place three full years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Juneteenth is largely regarded as the longest-observed African American holiday. 

As you’ll see in this interview, Junteenth is highly important, not as a political day, but as a day to pause as all of humanity, and remember. As humans, we must ask ourselves what the ideals of Juneteenth mean practically. (3:40)

How to commemorate Juneteenth thoughtfully, especially as a non-Black person.

As a Christ-follower, what compels us forward in understanding those who have different life experiences? It must be more than posting on social media one day a year, when it’s expected. 

If you’re looking for practical action steps, one great way to start is by supporting Black Owned businesses in your community.  Second, be intentional with speaking up and out against racism in your spheres of influence.  And finally?  Be educated. 

“I’m more concerned with what happens June 18 and June 20th than I am June 19th. June 19th is going nowhere. But it’s what happens the day before and the day after.” (9:10)

“We all have to take upon ourselves to say, ‘If I am truly going to celebrate the essence of a holiday and what it means then it has to become a part of my lifestyle.” 

Why education is, perhaps, the best way to celebrate Juneteenth.

(11:00) “If anything, if you take the time to be educated and understand: here are slaves who didn’t even know they were free….It has to make all of us stop and think about how powerful education is. The difference was education, It wasn’t money or social standing, per se. It was: I haven’t been educated.” 

(12:45) “When you become patrons of that black-owned business, you now are joining in celebration, not separation, in a celebration of this ideal: that we’re all equal.”

This is how celebration, education, and agitation come together in a culmination of moving forward in harmony. 

(15:00) “Be intentional in understanding the plight of individuals that look differently than you.” Both historically and presently.

First Steps

If your church is hesitant to address issues of race–hear Pastor Larry speak wisely on a solid first step:

(16:30) “I choose to believe that so many people desire to see celebration of all races. They have a heart for minorities.” 

(18:58) For those looking for a how-to on a Juneteenth post from Pastor Larry, here’s his advice:

  • Talk to your Church about the Emancipation Proclamation & connect the goal to the goal of Jesus Christ; freedom for all people. 
  • Remind that we are all one in Christ, all the same. Gen 1:26-27
  • Talk about the beauty that the Emancipation Proclamation brought.  God can use all things for good
  • All men are created equal, and all have equal standing in Christ. Celebrate that the Emancipation Proclamation is the first time in history this is recognized.
  • This proclaimed freedom to an entire group of people who didn’t know they were free: the message of the gospel. 
  • History doesn’t stand alone, outside of the purview of God.  When you talk about Juneteenth, tie those two together.
  • Instead of just celebrating the ‘holiday’, celebrate + educate; yield is agitation.

Additional Resources

Recommended resources from our community.

Join the conversation around Juneteenth in the Church Marketers Facebook Group.

Juneteenth graphic from Larry Weathers!  🎉

Books

The Birth of a White Nation by Jacqueline Battalora
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reid (published in May of this year)

The Historic References Pastor Larry Mentions:

Emancipation Park
Jim Crow era
Poor People’s Campaign (MLK)
Resurrection City
Solidarity Day March (1968)
2012 death of Trayvon Martin
2020 George Floyd

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