Juneteenth: A Universal Celebration
June 17, 2020
Jesus gave his followers the Great Commandment to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. The recent murders of African Americans at the hands of police officers demonstrate how far we are from following the commands of Jesus to love every person as a precious child of God.
United Theological Seminary President, Dr. Kent Millard, asked Dr. Elvin Sadler, General Secretary of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and a mentor in the Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program, to share the history and significance of June 19 (Juneteenth) for African Americans in this country.
“On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, TX, General Order #3 was read, which stated: ‘The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.’ Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States,” says Dr. Sadler. “It has served as a day of remembrance and an opportunity for African Americans to honor their history and celebrate black culture.”
In honor and celebration of this historic act, the United Theological Seminary community stands in unity and solidarity with all people of color, affirming that Black Lives Do Matter! Going forward, the Seminary will honor Juneteenth as an annual paid holiday for all members of the United community. The Seminary encourages its staff and faculty to take this not just as a day of rest, but also a day to promote racial equality amongst people of color.
“Lift every voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us;
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.”
(Johnson, James Weldon. “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” 1921.)
United Theological Seminary is a graduate professional school of The United Methodist Church offering master’s and doctoral theological degrees and continuing education with programs offered on campus and online. United’s goal is to prepare faithful, fruitful leaders who will make disciples of Jesus Christ.