The Two Cities Church in Minnesota held our first annual Juneteenth celebration this week with a large family BBQ. Juneteenth is a holiday recognized by 45 states in the US that takes place annually on June 19th. It commemorates the day in 1865—June nineteenth —when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally arrived to slaves in Galveston, Texas. At last, they heard that they were free.

The holiday has been celebrated for years by African Americans. But the end of institutionalized slavery in America should be celebrated by all! Hosted by the Cultural Unity and Diversity (CUAD) team of the Two Cities Church, Juneteenth was a night for the entire church and wider community to celebrate freedom from slavery. Rather than the normal midweek gatherings by family group, disciples from across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area came together to celebrate, sing African American spirituals, learning how to double-dutch, play a variety of games, and eat serious amounts of food. There were also numerous invited visitors and a large number of guests that walked by the festivities in the park and accepted invitations to join in on the fun.

The CUAD team strives for the Two Cities Church to be “a gathering of the nations,” by acknowledging and respecting the diversity we all bring to the family of God. Over the past year, members of the Two Cities Church have participated in dialogues on culture, race, socioeconomic status, and gender, and celebrated our various cultures on “Simunye” Weekend (Zulu for “we are one”). We can build true unity when we seek to understand and participate across our cultural, economic, and social differences.

To God be the glory, and happy Juneteenth!