Saturday, June 14, my friend, Brenda F, took me to two churches, the Church of the Immaculate in Seattle and Holy Spirit Parish in Kent, Washington. At each church, Juneteenth Celebrations were hosted by Black Catholics.
What is the focus of Juneteenth? This description of its focus appeared in a program distributed at Holy Spirit Parish:
"On June 19, 1865, the Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas to inform inhabitants of the Civil War's end two months earlier. Tow and a half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This finally free the lasgt 250,000 slaves whose bondage, due to the minimal Union presence in the region, had been essentially unaffected by Lincoln's efforts...
Observance of Juneteenth has traditionally tended twoards a church-centered celebration featuring food, fun, and a focus on self-improvement and education.
Althought initially associated with Texas and other Southern states, the Civil Rights Era and the Poor People's March to Washington in 1968, helped spread the tradition all across America-- to the extent that Milwaukee and Mineapolis now host two of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the nation.
Today Juneteenth is promoted not only as a commemoration of African-Amercan freedom, but as an example and encouragement of self-development and respect for all cultures."
The celebration at the Church of the Immaculate, which had been my mother's very much loved spiritual home, touched me on every level:
The welcoming people in the community. Here is a picture of the chef of the day, Jeffrey Petrie-Williams. He put some deep, deep magic on that barbecued chicken.
The spirit of reverence and prayer that permeated the celebration. Here, Sharon Petrie-Williams, the director of the Office of Black Catholics for the Archdiocese, invites us to join her in prayer
The food was taste bud tantalizing and so, so, satisfying
And members of the Immaculate Gospel Choir got us singing joyfully together:
Thank you, wonderful people of the Church of the Immaculate and Holy Spirit Parish. I am looking forward to joining you for many, many celebrations during the next few years...
And, definitely, see you next Juneteenth!!!