Multicultural Ministries | Remembering Juneteenth

Multicultural Ministries | Remembering Juneteenth

The Rev. Leah Burns was recently appointed as Holston Conference's first associate director of connectional ministries for multicultural ministries. Join her as she shares a lesson on the federal holiday, Juneteenth, along with resources and actions United Methodists can take to educate themselves and others.


How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith. Among the powerful reflections contained in the book, this best-selling author offers a powerful reflection on his visit to a Juneteenth commemoration in Galveston, TX. 
Here are some video resources to check out, to show in your church or district gatherings and then to have conversations about them. There are some discussion starter questions to accompany these, or you can use your own. 
The Truth About Juneteenth | Black History Explainer is an informative video about the origins of Juneteenth. Daniel J. Middleton discusses the Juneteenth remembrance, which originated in Galveston, Texas with the June 19, 1865, announcement of General Order No. 3. Formerly enslaved Texan slaves started the commemoration of this date and carried it wherever they migrated.
Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom is a powerful and very moving video that seeks to revealthe deep spiritual significance of America’s newest federal holiday with pastor Rasool Berry. In this documentary, you will learn how Scripture inspired the faith of enslaved people, you will travel to the church where America’s first Juneteenth celebration took place and you will discover why newly liberated men and women credited God for their freedom (Total watch time: 1 hour 16 minutes)
Juneteenth - A Celebration of Freedom is a three-part video series about the history of Juneteenth Day from its inception to today. (Viewing all three together takes 20 minutes total; or you can view and discuss each one separately):
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
I would suggest scheduling a meeting in your church or in your district to study the Clint Smith book or to show these videos…followed by facilitated discussion. Use the questions and discussion starters below. And don’t forget to wrap up the discussion with reflection and discussion on the tie between Juneteenth Day and what is going on today in terms of the violence to Black people. 
Juneteenth questions and discussion starters to accompany a book study and/or these videos:
• Why is it important that Juneteenth is a national holiday?
• Why is Juneteenth Day important for the United Methodist Church to commemorate and teach?
• What are the barriers that people may have regarding Juneteenth as a holiday for all to commemorate?
• What is the reality of slavery that makes Juneteenth necessary?
• Consider the text of General Order No. 3 and discuss its implications meant when first delivered.
• Discuss why Juneteenth is a Black-centered but not Black exclusive holiday.
• What is the difference between celebrate vs. commemorate which is important for Juneteenth?
• Add your own questions.



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Leah Burns

The Rev. Leah Burns is Holston Conference associate director of connectional ministries for multicultural ministries.