The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) has shared the following Juneteenth responsive reading by Leslie Copeland-Tune, COO of the NCC. It was first used at an NCC chapel service held at the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C., on June 10, 2019:
Leader: Today, we gather to remember, to reflect, to celebrate FREEDOM!
Congregation: Freedom is not free. We thank You, O God, today for our freedom in you and remember those for whom freedom was so costly a price to pay.
Leader: We remember those who were enslaved. We recognize that slavery tried to erase the humanity of so many of your people–those who were enslaved and those who brutalized and dehumanized others, not realizing the cost for their own souls. Lord, have mercy!
Congregation: Forgive us, O God. Help us to always treat one another as we want to be treated and to, above all, recognize that we are all created in your image and likeness. We remember today. In your mercy, O God, hear our prayers.
Leader: We reflect on the gift of freedom today and the many ways that the struggle continues. We lament those who are still treated as less than your very own as we recommit to fight for freedom and dignity for all of your people.
Congregation: Help us, O God, to be courageous in fighting for justice and righteousness for all of your people until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream!
Leader: We celebrate today! For freedom has come and will come again. For those in cages at our borders, for those locked up in jail cells away from their families, for those who are caught up in human trafficking, for those living without clean water, for those trapped in the bondage of an opioid addiction–God as we celebrate freedom today, help us to continue the fight for freedom across the global village in every form and in every way.
Congregation: We celebrate FREEDOM today! We celebrate with renewed determination, knowing that our work is not done and our task has not been fully accomplished until all of God’s children are truly free from bondage.
ALL: We remember, we reflect, we celebrate this Juneteenth. Thank You, O God, for reminding us that freedom is possible, necessary and a promise from you.
— Permission is granted for the use of this responsive reading if proper credit is given to Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, COO, National Council of Churches.
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