Black Americans in Richmond, Virginia, celebrate Juneteenth with a procession in 1865.

[The Episcopal News] The Diocese of Los Angeles will celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States, with a festive Evensong at St. John’s Cathedral at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 18.

The service will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube.

Juneteenth National Independence Day (June 19) – sometimes known as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day or Black Independence Day – was named a federal holiday in 2021 by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden. It celebrates the end of slavery in Confederate states, which officially began with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It took two and a half years more, until June 19, 1865, for slaves in Texas to be freed when victorious Union soldiers enforced the order. Regional celebrations of the day have been held since 1866.

The 2021 meeting of Diocesan Convention adopted a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a diocesan observance beginning June 19, 2022. The resolution also directs the Los Angeles deputation to General Convention to begin working toward inclusion of the holiday in Lesser Feasts and Fasts. In response, the Bishop’s Commission on Liturgy and Music recently posted liturgical resources for congregational observances of Juneteenth on its webpage.

This year’s diocesan celebration, the first since that resolution was passed, is sponsored by the Program Group on Black Ministry and the H. Belfield Hannibal chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

Bishop John Harvey Taylor will preside at the Evensong; the Rev. Guy Leemhuis of St. Luke’s, La Crescenta, will preach. Members of the Episcopal Chorale under the direction of Canon Chas Cheatham will perform various spirituals and gospel music. The Rev. Lester Mackenzie, rector of St. Mary’s, Laguna Beach, will lead African drumming and song. Stacey Forte Dupre will serve as deacon of the word; Deacons Dominique Piper and Margaret McCauley will also be participants. Canon Suzanne Edwards Acton and the Rev. John Limo will provide welcome.

All are welcome. Attendees are invited to wear festal white or African patterns if they wish.

St. John’s Cathedral is located at 514 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles 90007. The cathedral staff request that all attending be prepared to show proof of full vaccination against Covid-19.