June 18, 2021
Beloved in Christ:
Greetings in the precious and matchless name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Yesterday (June 17, 2021), President Joseph R. Biden signed into law that Juneteenth is now a federal holiday.
At the signing, Vice President Kamala D. Harris declared: "Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names: Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, and today, a national holiday."
This day of remembrance marks when Major General Gordon Granger, who had fought for the Union, led a force of soldiers to Galveston, Texas, and read General Order #3 on June 19, 1865.
This military-enforced order enacted Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that freed enslaved African Americans. Although the proclamation was issued by executive order on Sept. 22, 1862 and went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863, it was not until Juneteenth (June 19, 1865) — two and a half years later — that Black people were freed in Texas.
Indeed it has taken quite some time for us to arrive here today. As we celebrate this great landmark, we give thanks for all who endeavored and led us to this monumental day.
And as followers of Jesus Christ, we recommit ourselves to the ongoing work of liberation: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19). Our Savior declared these words at the start of his public ministry. May we deepen our ministry today, as we seek freedom and justice.
During my Episcopal Address a week ago today, I stated:
“Later this month, on the 19th, we celebrate Juneteenth and the abolition of slavery in the United States. Unfortunately, the legacy of slavery endures, and economic inequity and racial discrimination runs deep — and more painfully still, slavery continues even in our present-day world. Let us not rest until the legacy of antebellum slavery and modern-day slavery and human trafficking are abolished entirely.
As we continue to fight for justice and for the liberation of all the children of God, we must not forget that Juneteenth is also a celebration of black resilience and joy. We rejoice that reconstruction, rebuilding, and flourishing happens — even in the face of unthinkable violence and devastation.”
It is my prayer that this weekend of remembrance and thanksgiving will energize us for the journey that is ahead.
In Christ’s love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
Find information and resources about Juneteenth from the General Commission on Religion and Race