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Emancipation Proclamation Celebration Begins Sunday

Six-month observance begins with joint service between Church of the Redeemer and Bethel A.M.E. church on Jan. 20 at Church of the Redeemer.

Church of the Redeemer will begin a six-month celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. during a special worship service with Morristown’s Bethel A.M.E. Church.

The Rev. Sidney Williams, of Bethel A.M.E., will preach and readings will include portions of the 1936 Federal Writers' Project “Slave Narratives.” The combined choirs of Redeemer and Bethel will sing, and Bethel's F.A.I.T.H. liturgical dance ministry will perform. A mission offering will be taken to benefit Family Promise of Morris County.

Issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863, the Proclamation declared all those enslaved in Confederate territory to be forever free. Plans to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation over the course of this six-month period have been underway for a year at Redeemer, encompassed by the theme "Forever Free: Reclaiming the Emancipation Proclamation."

“From its beginning Redeemer has been passionate about fairness, opportunity and equality,” said the Rev. Cynthia Black, rector of Redeemer. “These events will provide a chance for the community to engage in dialogue about the ‘emancipation’ that is yet to happen for too many in our society, as well as celebrating the progress that has been made.”

Beginning on Jan. 13, events will include Sunday Adult Forums on historical perspectives on the events leading up to Lincoln's issuance of the Proclamation and a three-part series titled, "Take the A Train: A Social History of Jazz." A series of special guest speakers are planned throughout the winter and spring months, as well as guest preachers, an art exhibit and a concert. The final event will be Redeemer's celebration of "Juneteenth" on June 16, a holiday which commemorates the end of slavery on June 19, 1865.

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