Resolution #6: Recognition and Celebration of Juneteenth as a Diocesan Feast Day and Holiday

Status

ADOPTED BY CONVENTION OCTOBER 17th, 2020
Accepted by the Committee on Resolutions August 11th, 2020
Updated by the Secretary of the Convention August 27th, 2020

ResolvedThat the 171st Convention of the Diocese of California recognizes the historic significance of the Emancipation Proclamation, which, though signed by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, did not reach Texas until June 19, 1865, leaving slavery in existence there for more than two years longer than sanctioned by the United States; 

ResolvedThat this Convention directs the Liturgical Commission to act in conjunction with the Afro-Anglican Commission and the Northern California/Vivian Traylor Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) in creating and implementing a Juneteenth liturgy and series of Juneteenth celebratory events beginning June 19, 2021;

ResolvedThat this Convention urges the Bishop to establish a diocesan local observance (Feast Day) and holiday for Juneteenth commencing June 19, 2021;

Resolved, That this Convention urges the Bishop, working with our Deputation at the 80th General Convention, and acting through resolution or other appropriate means, to work toward the inclusion of the Juneteenth Feast Day in Lesser Feasts and Fasts; and

Resolved, That this Convention advocates making Juneteenth a recognized holiday in the State of California and directs its Secretary to forward this resolution to the Governor and each legislator representing the geographic area of the Diocese of California.

Explanation

The Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery was issued in 1863, however, it only freed slaves in the Confederate States. It took two and a half years, until June 19, 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas read the General Order announcing that the Civil War was over and slavery had been abolished. [1] The General Order Number 3 read: “The people of Texas are informed that . . . all slaves are free. . . . .” [2]

June 19th, known as Juneteenth, celebrates the end of slavery and is a symbolic date of freedom for African Americans. Often referred to as this country’s Second Independence Day, Juneteenth is observed as a state holiday in 15 states and the District of Columbia. [3] Thirty-two additional states recognize Juneteenth through community service and celebration, many of which are considering making Juneteenth a state holiday. California is one of the 47 states that currently commemorate Juneteenth. We are advocating that the state of California officially observe Juneteenth as a state holiday. [4] The annual celebration of Juneteenth is a time of reflection, learning, self-assessment, and healing. [5]

Today, the celebration of Juneteenth has deep and lasting meaning for the Black community as we continue to fight for justice and freedom. We have witnessed a rise in racist and oppressive actions and behaviors that directly conflict with our beliefs and values as Christians. There is a misconception that slavery no longer exists in this nation and that everyone enjoys freedom. However, “More than 400,000 people could be living in ‘modern slavery’ in the US, a condition of servitude broadly defined in a new study as forced and state-imposed labor, sexual servitude and forced marriage.” [6] The majority of those who live in “modern slavery” today are people of color, predominately Black and Brown folks. [7]

It is vital as Episcopalians that we join together in unity to be ever vigilant in fighting for the precious meaning of freedom of all people by celebrating Juneteenth as a Diocesan Feast Day and holiday.


[1] Congressional Research Service Juneteenth: Fact Sheet, dated June 3, 2020, viewed 8 August 2020, p 1 <https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44865.pdf>
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Rebecca Shabad, Senators propose bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, NBC News (June 19, 2020). https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/senate-democrats-introduce-bill-make-juneteenth-federal-holiday-n1231550 (August 27, 2020)
[5] Juneteenth.com organization, Have a Happy Juneteenth, viewed 8 August 2020, <https://www.juneteenth.com/>
[6] Helmore, E. 2019 The Guardian: Over 400,000 people living in ‘modern slavery’ in US, report finds, viewed 8 August 2020, <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/19/us-modern-slavery-report-global-slavery-index>
[7] Walk Free, Global Slavery Index, 2018 United States Report, viewed 8 August 2020, pp.2, 5 <https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/country-studies/united-states/>


Contact

Ms. Jeanette Dinwiddie-Moore, dinwidd@gmail.com

Submitted By

Ms. Jeanette Dinwiddie-Moore, Co-Chair, Northern California/Vivian Traylor Chapter of the UBE, Member of the Afro-Anglican Commission; The Rev. Mauricio Wilson, Rector, St. Paul’s, Oakland, Western Regional Director, Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) and Chair, Afro-Anglican Commission (AAC); The Rev. Deacon Jennifer Nelson, St. Bartholomew’s, Livermore and St. Clare’s, Pleasanton, Co-Chair, UBE, member of AAC; The Rev. Eric Metoyer, Rector, St. Francis, San Francisco, member of UBE; The Ven. Archdeacon Carolyn Bolton, St. Paul’s, Oakland, and member of UBE and ACC; and Ms. Brenda Paulin, St. Augustine, Oakland and member of UBE and ACC.

Endorsed by

The Afro-Anglican Commission
The Peace, Justice and Hunger Commission
The Northern California/Vivian Traylor Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians
The Ven. Canon Nina Pickerrell, Archdeacon of the Diocese of California, Bayview Mission, San Francisco
The Rev. Deacon Alberta Buller, Christ Church, Sausalito
Ms. Carolyn Gaines, St. Augustine’s, Oakland
The Rev. Ruth Meyers, Co-Chair, Diocese of California Deputation to General Convention
The Rev. Michael P. Barham, President, Standing Committee of the Diocese of California, Vicar, Holy Family, Half Moon Bay and Good Shepherd,
Belmont
Mr. Warren J. Wong, St. James, San Francisco
The Rev. Br. Richard Edward Helmer, Secretary of the Convention and Rector of Church of Our Saviour, Mill Valley
Ms. Sarah Lawton, St. John the Evangelist, San Francisco
The Rev. Deacon Pam Jester, All Saints, San Leandro
The Rev. Jill Honodel, St. Aidan’s, Bolinas

Comments

Too often the way Americans, especially white Americans, learn history leaves out important events such as Juneteenth in an effort to make our history seem more palatable to white people. The church can help undo this by centering historical events, such as Juneteenth that have been unjustly overlooked. I hope that this resolution will be adopted.

This legislation passed by a vote of Yes - 223 and No - 4.

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