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In cities across our entire nation, people of all races, nationalities, and religious affiliation will join hands and hearts together and celebrate Juneteenth – The oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the abolition of slavery & emancipation of slaves in the United States. I think what is important to note about Juneteenth is not that it commemorates the day slavery ended, but is actually two whole years later when the last of the persons still being enslaved in Texas were informed of their freedom by Union army general Gordon Granger who read them the federal order for their Emancipation. From its inception in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 up until today it has been a time to stop and reflect, to learn and grow, and to celebrate the significance of freedom for our African American brothers and sisters.

Sadly, I must admit that for most of my life I didn’t celebrate Juneteenth because I didn’t even know it existed. It wasn’t a part of my world. I was ignorant. But over the past few weeks, I have made it my aim to listen and to learn as much as I can, to share in the suffering of others. It has been a season of lamentation, revelation, and repentance and I am better for it.

For as long as I can remember I have been against racism, in all of it’s forms. I have not only thought it to be immoral and unjust, but I have believed it to be demonic and evil. But what I am discovering is that simply “being against” this evil is not enough! Moving forward, I understand and am committed to actively “coming against” the evil of racism in every place I encounter it in all of the ways I can. The shift from “being against” to “coming against” may seem insignificant to some. But it is not for me. It will require great courage and resolve. But the time has come. In fact, it is long overdue to be counted in that number of those who not only want freedom, justice, and peace for ALL, but those who help to make it so!

– Pastor Vince