Jun 19, 2020Juneteenth — liturgy and history

Juneteenth — liturgy and history

Juneteenth Flag

In 2015, the 126th Diocesan Convention passed a resolution regarding the response of the Episcopal churches in West Missouri to the ongoing sin of Racism. One of the provisions was the use the service closest to “Juneteenth” as an opportunity to remind ourselves of the constant vigilance needed to address racism. The provision called for “liturgical resources” to be provided from the Diversity and Reconciliation Commission for use to the wider diocese.

The commission offered the use of a special “Confession and Absolution” reproduced below (adapted from Seeing the Face of God in Each Other).



In this worship and when we leave this place, we pray for more than conviction. We pray, O Lord, for change. Change the easy peace we make with ourselves into discontent because of the oppression of others. Change our tendency to defend ourselves into the freedom that comes from being forgiven and empowered through your love. Change our need for disguises, excuses, and images into the ability to be honest with ourselves and open with one another. Change our inclination to judge others into a desire to serve and uplift others. And most of all, Lord, change our routine worship and work into genuine encounter with you and our better selves so that our lives will be changed for the good of all.


Bishop (if present) or priest:


Take heart: God’s Spirit empowers us to move from the ways of death to the ways of new life. Our sins are forgiven. Let us forgive one another and give ourselves to one another in joyful community of justice and peace.


Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, is a holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South.

Celebrated on June 19, Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states. In practice, the Emancipation Proclamation only freed persons held in Confederate States who were either behind the Union lines or close enough to take advantage of the Union advance. Therefore, the news and practice of freeing enslaved people moved slowly. The date marks the moment when the news of the end of the Civil War and the complete emancipation of all slaves was announced in Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865, over two months after the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. We mark this moment as a Church not only as the end of the institution of American slavery, but also in the spirit of reconciliation and new life as we journey together towards togetherness and community.

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