The United States is two days away from celebrating its Independence Day, but some celebrated the anniversary of their own freedom just a few weeks ago. Despite the Emancipation Proclamation taking effect on January 1, 1863, black slaves in Texas did not find out they were free until June 19, 1865. Today, this date is remembered and celebrated as Juneteenth.
Juneteenth Encourages Conversation
Chelir Grady with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship explains:
“That’s an important moment in African American History, in particular, for us just to recognize that. Because at the end of the day, even if in 1863 there were black slaves that were celebrating all over the country, there were still those people in Texas, so many slaves in Texas, that were still living that life. It wasn’t until this moment that they were totally free.”
Juneteenth also tugs at an important conversation for the Church as it moves towards unity. Grady explains that on a micro-level, Christians were involved with the Underground Railroad and sought to end slavery. But on a macro-level, the collective Church was involved in the actual business of slavery.
Parts of the Church in the U.S. once distorted God’s Word to exercise control over black slaves. These events impact communities today. Joining this conversation requires recognizing and understanding the mistakes from the past. It also requires seeking forgiveness and reconciliation.
“I think it’s important for the Church to have conversations around this because it’s a part of our history as a Church. But it’s also just the history of the people that are in the Church…And so, I think if the church opens the door for this type of conversation [and] in a way it’s kind of like an act of repentance…so that we don’t repeat our mistakes,” Grady says.
Grady explains that if the Church is to correct its mistakes, it can’t remain silent about hard issues today. Acknowledging sin opens the door for the Holy Spirit to change our hearts and continue the process of sanctification.
“If the Church is talking about these things, and the Church is discussing these things, then the Church is opening up the door for us to not repeat the same mistakes because we’re allowing the love in the room and the unity in the room to help,” Grady says.
“That’s why I would say it’s a conversation that matters.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Bethann Flynn