Juneteenth Gospel Celebration 2022 Recap Video
June 27, 2022
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. In churches across our Conference, people of all races are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. At the 2022 Annual Juneteenth Gospel Celebration, hosted by Lake Junaluska and the Smoky Mountain District, we joined with Americans across the nation to tell the stories of our past and celebrate the hope that comes through freedom!
We’re not keeping this to ourselves,we’re passing it along to the next generation— God’s fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done. -Psalm 78:4
In the fall of 2020, Ken Howle reached out to The Smoky Mountain District on behalf of Lake Junaluska to partner and plan a worship service to show solidarity with African Americans all over the country who were protesting gross injustices such as the death of George Floyd. Those conversations led to the formation of the Smoky Mountain District's Justice and Reconciliation Team and the Juneteenth Gospel Celebration was conceived, with the first annual celebration held on June 19, 2021.
This year’s Juneteenth Gospel Celebration focused on telling our stories through the power of song.
Three phenomenal musical acts headlined the event:
The Catamount Singers from Western Carolina University,
Dr. Tiffany Jackson, who performed her one woman show From the Hood to the Ivy League, “an autobiographical account of a girl raised in the hood and born to a sharecropper’s daughter, whose gift to sing paves a path for her to travel the world singing classical music, but whose heart recognizes the need to return to the hood to serve in purpose,” and
The Community Gospel Choir led by Rockell Scott.
The spirit of the Juneteenth Gospel Celebration is one of community and festivity. Friends and family gathered at the Nanci Weldon Open-Air Gym at Lake Junaluska for food, fellowship, and of course gospel music! The kids enjoyed bouncing on inflatables and running around the field. Everyone enjoyed good food from the food trucks and free watermelon and cake. Old friends were able to connect and new friendships were formed.
It is the hope of the planning committee that through these annual celebrations, strangers and neighbors will build relationships from this shared experience, which will in turn help to break down barriers and stereotypes.
There is still much work to be done as we attempt to combat the forces of racism in our churches and conference, but we will not stop this good and right work. Together, with God’s strength and grace, we will build a better tomorrow for our churches, communities, and children.