Federal employees will be granted a paid holiday to celebrate Juneteenth it was announced today, Thursday, June 17, 2021. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law this week.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Originating in Galveston, Texas, it commemorates the announcement on June 19, 1865, of General Order No. 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas. Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement.
You can read more about Juneteenth in this article, The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth on the Smithsonian website, and also in this PBS article, What is Juneteenth?
The following prayers from the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America respectively were suggested by Bishop Deon Johnson, eleventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, and can be used as part of your daily prayers or commemorations of the day.
Almighty God, you rescued your people from slavery in Egypt, and throughout the ages you have never failed to hear the cries of the captives; We remember before you our sisters and brothers in Galveston, Texas who [on this day] received the glad tidings of their emancipation; Forgive us for the many grave sins that delayed that liberating word; Anoint us with your Spirit to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of your favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image. Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression. Help us, like those of generations before us, resist the evil of slavery and human bondage in any form and any manner of oppression. Help us to use our freedoms to bring justice among people and nations everywhere, to the glory of your Holy name through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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- 06-21-2021 The prayers were originally credited to Bishop Deon. The text has been updated to correctly reflect the sources of the prayers.