On Sunday, June 18, Grace, Silver Spring’s Racial Justice Ministry–Wade in the Water–conducted an educational forum on Juneteenth. Speakers were Gabby Whitehurst of the Diocesan Committee on Reparations, and Keith Allen, who grew up in Galveston Bay, Texas, celebrating Juneeteenth.
Keith shared the story of Harrison Barrett (1845-1917), who was born enslaved and received the news of his freedom in June 1865 in Texas. Following his emancipation, he searched for his family members and discovered all except for his sister. In 1889, Barrett purchased the largest settlement of land to be acquired by a formerly enslaved person in Harris County, Texas. In 1947, a school was built on the settlement and named in his honor. You can learn more about Harrison Barrett’s story here.
Following the forum, Grace conducted their worship service using the African American hymnal and following the lead of an African American choir. Missioner for Equity and Justice, Rudy Logan, preached over Matthew 9:35-10:8 in the context of Juneteenth. Rudy shared that Juneteenth invites us into constant remembrance, anonymous love, and living out our discipleship to bring about a harvest for all to experience. Following the service, Grace, Silver Spring partnered with St. Matteo, Hyattsville, to facilitate a food distribution.
The Church of the Epiphany, DC also held a Juneteenth celebration, hosting saxophonist Irvin Peterson and organist David Houston, who performed music of Leo Sowerby, Paule Maurice, Duke Ellington, Jimmy Dorsey, among others. You can find the video of Irvin Peterson and David Houston’s performance at Epiphany below in the resources section. The celebration also included performances by liturgical dancer P.J. Green-Young, drawing on “Sounds of Blackness: Sunup to Sundown” and “The Drum”, and poets C. Etta Powersand Angie Whitehurst, who performed their respective works titled, “1863” and “Juneteenth.”
Parishes across the Episcopal Diocese of Washington remind us that Juneteenth isn’t just a moment of celebration but an ongoing process of remembering and journeying for the realities of freedom. May we honor those denied freedom and delayed justice in our justice work and all ministries. Contact Missioner for Equity and Justice, Rudy Logan if you are interested in sharing about your parish’s Juneeteenth celebration, or have interest in holding Juneteenth celebrations going forward.
Contact: Rudy Logan, Missioner for Equity and Justice