Juneteenth Commemoration Father’s Day Observation

Music as We Gather Jim Pearce

Chiming of the Singing Bowl: Brian Freeman 

Words of Welcome and Announcements Brian Freeman 

Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation seeks to create loving community, inspire joy and spiritual growth, and support courageous action. All are welcome, as together we journey towards justice and equity by learning, caring, and acting together. We especially welcome any newcomers and visitors we have today. I hope you’ll join us after worship for coffee hour… from the comfort of your own homes. The link to our Coffee Hour Zoom room will appear in the chat box toward the end of worship, and we will remind you about it again there. When you click the link to join coffee hour, please remember that the password is “coffee”. Again, you will be reminded in the chat, toward the end of our worship service. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to grab whatever materials you’ll need to light your own chalice if you’d like that to be part of your worship experience today. As always, kindly set your phones to worship mode; we won’t know, but I think you might enjoy the hour free from distractions. And feel free to check in on your social media of choice to let your friends and family know about this place of caring you’ve found today. Our congregation is an exciting place to be, and we love it when you share the good news. 

And although we cannot be physically together to greet each other today with hugs, high-fives, smiles, and words of love, we are all together in spirit and each and every one of us is welcome. 


Next Sunday at 10 am we will not have our own regular Zoom service but will be participating in the General Assembly service that will be shared by most UU communities. On June 28th at 10 am, join the largest annual gathering of UUs participating in worship. This powerful, communal worship experience will stream on 

uua.org/ga.And now let us prepare for worship with the song “Enter Rejoice & Come In” by Larry Helferich. 

Prelude: Enter Rejoice & Come In, Larry Helferich

Call to Worship: Adia Fields-Udofia 

Good morning! I am Adia Fields-Udofia, and I serve as the Director of Religious Education for Children and Youth here at Northwest. Today we have joined to celebrate Father’s Day and commemorate Juneteenth. We acknowledge the role that fathers play in our personal lives and in our community; whether they are still with us or if they left us far too soon. As a community, it is our responsibility to join together and empower fathers all over the world. One way that we can do that is with words of gratitude and appreciation. Throughout our service today we will hear from children and youth in our congregation as they share words of appreciation for their dad. Come, let us worship together as we welcome the Bush family who will share a father’s day tribute before lighting our chalice. We will then enjoy a Father’s Day tribute from the Stewart family. 

Father’s Day Tribute #1: Jax Bush

Lighting of the Chalice: Jax and Harper Bush 

We Light Our Chalice For Fathers And For Fatherhood 

Father’s Day Tribute #2: Dominic Stewart

Reflection: Brian Freeman 

Today is a day we honor Father’s in our lives. In whatever form they came to us in. Biological fathers, step fathers, adoptive fathers, foster fathers, uncles, brothers, scoutmasters and single mothers, all those who have helped fill the role of father in our lives. 

Let’s face it father’s are human. They make mistakes, stumble and hopefully get back up again. Some of us may have mixed feelings about a day honoring our fathers. For me, I choose to look beyond the mistakes, the shortcoming, the failings and honor the legacy of the fathers in my life. 

Growing up I remember my biological father being the “fun” dad. He would lead songs around the campfire, build stilts, wrestle with the kids in the pool and even jumping on the trampoline with the kids. I 

spent many summers working with and for my dad. I learned to have fun, the value of hard work, perseverance and integrity. 

In high school my mother remarried. My stepfather worked for NCR and serviced electronic cash registers, terminals and early computers. He brought the first home computer into my life and a curiosity of how they work. He provided stability into our life and welcomed 3 foster boys into our home. 

When my father wasn’t around or filling his fatherly role I looked to others to help fill that gap. I’ve shared before that a strong positive male role model in my life was my grandfather. We sang together, he tried to teach me harmonica and we would sit out on the porch and listen to the local baseball games on the radio. 

Filling out my short list are a scoutmaster and youth advisor at my church. They modeled compassion, caring, integrity and a living spirituality. 

Later in life I met Daisy, my mother-in-law. She stepped in and filled both mother and father roles when her husband passed away when Pam was 13. Pam would honor her mother on both Mother’s day and Father’s day for the, sometimes heroic roles she filled in her life. 

I remember the almost overwhelming feelings inside when Jared was born and I became a father myself. Then two years later I stood in front of a judge, with a lump in my throat and swore to be a good parent and father to Ethan. I can still remember the joy, standing at the Northwest pulpit, with a boy in each arm, and announcing that we were an official family. In the days, weeks and years to follow I have tried to honor and pass on the legacy of fathers who have come before me. Attempting to model a good father. 

I have strived to be an equal partner and parent with Pam from Changing diapers, to feeding, to reading to them at bedtime. Modeling what I felt a father/parent should be. We’ve shared and swapped roles as necessity dictated. I’ve been involved, been playful and attempted to discipline. I’ve been a teacher, a listener and sometimes the instigator. I certainly have made mistakes, but I come back and try again, and again and again, if necessary. 

Now I see Jared and Ethan as men themselves. I look forward to being a grandfather, and besides spoiling my grandkids, watch Jared & Ethan being fathers themselves and passing on the legacy of fatherhood to their children. 

Father’s Day Tribute #3: Gabriel Stewart  

Story Wisdom Adia Fields-Udofia 

Today’s story is entitled Just the Two of Us by African American actor, comedian, and rapper Will Smith. Although he has made significant accomplishments in his career and was even recognized by Newsweek magazine as “the most powerful actor in Hollywood” at one time. No role or award would be more important to him than the role of being a dad. 

As we celebrate Father’s Day and remember Juneteenth, we are each called to do our part to ensure that every father and father figure as well as those who love them live in a space where they are able to embrace the promise and hope of equality and freedom. 

We will be reading the lyrics to Will Smith’s hit song, which shares the joys and fears of fatherhood and the many roles that fathers play as teacher, disciplinarian, protector, and sometimes even playmate. Let’s enjoy these heartfelt words from a father to his son, which highlight the immeasurable amount of love each father holds in their heart. 

PowerPoint Screen share- Just the Two of Us by Will Smith 

Let’s welcome Cameron Moore who will be singing One More Step. 

Music: One More Step, Cameron Moore

Reflection: Veta Tucker 

Today we are commemorating a very important African American holiday. African Americans and their friends worldwide are celebrating African Americans’ Emancipation Day. This is a state by state holiday; it has not yet been legislated as a national holiday, but it has a special meaning for African Americans, in ways, that July 4 has meaning for other Americans. 

More than 3 months after the Civil War ended and more than 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was first announced, many African Americans were still enslaved, especially those in remote areas of southern slave states. The last of the enslaved people to officially learn of their freedom were the enslaved people, who were still working in fields in the state of Texas. On June 19, 1865, US Gen. Gordon Granger read the announcement of freedom in Galveston, Texas for all Texas slave owners and enslaved people to carry out. The enslaved people who heard the announcement could finally celebrate freedom. They endeavored to enshrine that day in memory forever by giving it a special name; so June 19th became Juneteenth. 

Juneteenth is even more significant this day, June 21st, because today is also Father’s Day, and no family role was more shattered during the reign of slavery than the role of ‘father.’ Indeed, enslaved children were not permitted to legally claim a father. This does not mean that enslaved people did not know their fathers; it only means that the relationship of father to children, or husband to their children’s mothers was not recognized by law in the slave states. This created the absurd contradiction in enslaved families of fatherless children, husband-less wives, and childless fathers. This was done so that each enslaved person could be sold away from their non-fathers and non-sisters and brothers whenever the “owner” found it convenient to cash in that human property. 

This bizarre contradiction was not lost on enslaved people because they tried to honor their family relationships the best ways they could, even in the face of constant separations. I know this happened in my own family because in the only conversation I ever had with my grandfather, he made it a point to tell me everything he knew about his father, who was born into slavery. From that conversation, I know that my great grandfather’s legacy lived on in the lives of his son, my grandfather, and in the life of grandfather’s son, my father. Both my grandfather and father were brilliant electricians even though neither of them attended elementary school long enough to graduate. That day while talking to him, there was a corner of grandfather’s living room where several old TVs sat. They were there because my grandfather was a TV repairman for people in the neighborhood. 

My grandfather also told me that he had once been a janitor in a clothing factory in the city of Little Rock. Of course, the sewing machines would often malfunction and he would tinker with them and fix them during his night cleaning shift. When the shop managers found out that my grandfather could fix the sewing machines, they told him he could continue to work on the broken machines, but he couldn’t tell anyone that he was the one fixing them, and of course, they never paid him anything beyond his janitor’s wages.

Years later I learned of a similar experience from my father. My father understood electricity and mechanics in ways that I marveled at when I was a child. Not knowing my grandfather when I was a child, I didn’t understand that this skill was passed on to my father by my grandfather. I remember one evening after dinner, watching my father take apart a men’s wristwatch using tiny pincers. He took the back off the watch and laid each small piece from inside the watch on the dining room table. I got sleepy watching the delicate operation and finally went to bed. I don’t know how long my father worked on the watch, but when I woke the next morning, the watch was sitting on the table all re-assembled, ticking loudly and regularly like a new watch. 

My father was also the tv repairman for our entire neighborhood, but that wasn’t his real job. His real job was produce stockman for Wrigley’s Supermarket. In his retirement years, my father told me that when he was hired at Wrigley’s, the district manager told him that he would be trained to become an assistant manager of the store. However, the manager of the store made sure that my father never learned how to do anything other than stock the produce tables. When my father reminded the store manager that he was supposed to be trained how to manage the entire store, his manager laughed. 

My father had a hungry family to feed, and he couldn’t afford to lose his job so he continued to work as a produce man. But one day the district manager came back in the store. He greeted my father and asked him how his training was coming. This put my father in a difficult situation. He wanted the district manager to know that he wasn’t being trained, but if he said that, the store manager would be furious with him and might fire him later. So my father told me that he just stood there and said nothing as tears welled up and dropped from his eyes. Fortunately, my father was able to leave that job. He finally got hired in the local General Motors factory. But that job at Wrigley’s was forever burned in his memory. I often think about what my father and grandfather might have invented if they’d had more education and opportunity. 

So on this Father’s Day I want to honor my great grandfather, my grandfather and my father and all our fathers, whose legacies live on in all of us. 

Father’s Day Tribute #4: Sebastian Stewart

Joys and Sorrows Valerie Johnson

Good Morning. I’m Valerie Johnson, and I am here this morning to bring you the Joys and Sorrows. This is our time to honor these sacred moments and milestones. 

For our Ritual, we have water and we have river stones. Smooth and heavy in our hands, these river stones symbolize life’s pleasures and times of ease and life’s burdens and times of heaviness. 

The water in our bowl is a precious natural resource. We use it sparingly, reminding us of the preciousness of each life and its unique journey.

And now, I invite those of you who have Joys and Sorrows to share. Please click on the Chat Box at the bottom of your screen and then share your Joys and Sorrows with us. We want to know how you are doing. I will add this final stone for those joys and concerns that we hold in silence. 

Prayer and Meditation Valerie Johnson 

In our hungering for meaning 

By Bruce Southworth 

In our hungering for meaning, In our aching for friendship and yearning for justice, In our hearts remembering of finer days, 

May we look deep with the mystery of things and gather strength. May each of us proclaim the grateful power of Life and Love, and So may we live in hope. Amen 

In our hungering for meaning, Bruce Southworth

Introduction of Interlude: Philip Rogers 

Good morning. My name is Philip Rogers, Director of Music here at Northwest Unitarian. 

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads. 

On June 19, 1865 Texas revealed to all slaves in that state that the Emancipation Proclamation was being enacted two and a half years after it was instituted by President Abraham Lincoln. The elated former slaves labeled that event as Juneteenth, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day and Liberation Day. 

Although slavery had been abolished on paper Black Americans began to encounter heightened violent acts toward them as well as experiencing the results of surreptitious well written Jim Crow laws instituting structural, systemic racist practices in law enforcement, housing, education, economic development, land ownership and voting rights. The demand for equal rights throughout the remaining 19th century, well into the 20th century and this century focuses on those rights and the reversal of injustices enacted on black Americans. 

The song you are about to experience is lifted from the musical, Ragtime. Its message implores black Americans and all Americans of conscience to proclaim through sermons, written documents and public action that “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice” and that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

The clarion call of this song is being lived out in the streets of America and internationally as well as through sermons and written literary accounts proclaiming that systemic racist realities must be addressed and ended. The compelling message of the song… “Make Them Hear You” is what I submit to you today for your consideration and action. ”

Reflection: “Juneteenth” Dave Zenner, Justice Ministry Team Leader 

I have to confess that in the past, I haven’t paid enough attention to the history and significance of Juneteenth. I’ve been able to ignore this celebration marking the final, legal emancipation of African-Americans because I’ve never, in my 65 years of a life of privilege, been subjected to any of the enduring consequences of slavery – what has been called “America’s Original Sin”. 

And when I heard about George Floyd’s brutal murder under the knee of a Minneapolis policeman, I was outraged and frustrated, but I was also cynically certain that this was just one more killing in an endless and unstoppable procession of modern day lynchings of young black men and 

women, when justice would once again be swept aside by the forces of cronyism and structural racism within many of our police departments and our judicial systems. 

Because, from my vantage point as a leftward leaning, privileged white male, I have the prerogative of being able to shake my head, curse and grumble in the face of such outrage. I have never once had to endure the utter despair and hopelessness visited on people of color in the face of this relentless tide of subjugation and killing. 

This horrific killing appears finally to have prompted, if not a turning point, then at least a watershed moment in our nation’s struggle with racism. But while we may be in the midst of a watershed moment, I can’t bring myself to believe that it is a turning point. Because, for the last 157 years, although there have been conspicuous mile markers along the tortuous road toward racial equality, there have been too many times when the signs pointed toward a new, higher path, but the road only continued along its too predictable course. 

In her recent address to graduates, Michelle Obama, who personally witnessed the consequences of systemic racism on her own father, said: 

“Over the past couple of months, our foundation has been shaken… by the rumbling of the age-old fault lines that our country was built on. The lines of race and power that are now, once again, so nakedly exposed for all of us to grapple with.” 

What’s happening right now is the direct results of decades of unaddressed prejudice and inequality. The truth is, when it comes to all those tidy stories of hard work and self-determination that we like to tell ourselves about America, well, the reality is a lot more complicated than that. Because for too many people in this country, no matter how hard they work, there are structural barriers working against them that just make the road longer and rockier. And sometimes it’s almost impossible to move upward at all… If you don’t feel safe driving your own car in your own neighborhood? Or 

going for a jog, or buying some candy at 7-11, or birdwatching? If you can’t even approach the police without fearing for your life, then how do you even begin to chart your own course?” 

On Friday we observed the 155th anniversary of the belated announcement to enslaved Texans that, they were emancipated. They were told that: “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.” 

Along with the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, it was the first, hopeful sign of a new direction for America. But the actual response to the northern victory in the civil war, and the emancipation of slaves was the prompt enactment of “Jim Crow laws”, legalizing racial subjugation and discrimination. Whites disenfranchised blacks by means of the poll tax and literacy tests, and relegated black workers to low-paying jobs, and poorly funded public schools for black children. In this way, whites crafted a bitter web of political, economic, and social barriers to full and equal citizenship for their fellow black citizens. As W.E.B. Du Bois’ has summarized Reconstruction: “The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.” The new direction turned out to be disturbingly elusive, because proclamations don’t change fundamental beliefs. 

The mile markers continued to appear. The Civil Rights Act that Dr. King and so many others fought for was finally passed 99 years after the 1865 announcement to the enslaved Texans that they were absolutely equal to whites in all respects. But Jim Crow has clearly not been dismantled by the passage of laws. Because there was also a subtler, social dimension to Jim Crow, which required that African Americans demonstrate subservience and inferiority to whites at all times. A black man who succeeded in business might find his shop burned to the ground by jealous whites. A black woman who failed to step off of the sidewalk to make way for a white man might be fired by her employer the following day. A black man who had a relationship with a white woman might be hanged in the middle of 

town. Many whites interpreted any claim to pride or equality by African Americans as an affront. 

This Sunday, in addition to commemorating the final emancipation of enslaved people in the United States of America, we also celebrate father’s day, a day to honor fathering at its best: gentle understanding, mentoring, constancy, love and quiet strength. Yet while honoring the father figures in our own lives, still we must also acknowledge that it was our “founding fathers”, many of whom owned slaves, who decreed in 1776 that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

– A bold proclamation of the rights of all human beings – words that were substantially repeated by Gen. Gordon Granger in his proclamation to enslaved Texans in 1865, and again by the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and most recently by the current Attorney General of the United States and the National Security Advisor to the President, who stated their belief that the law enforcement system of the United States is not systemically racist. Words that ring hollow in the face of overwhelming evidence that equality is an elusive dream. 

So while there has been advancement of legal civil rights, and significant economic and social advancement for many people of color, the recurring history of violence and oppression, on full display these last seven years since Trayvon Martin’s killing, up to and including the police killing last week in Atlanta of Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy’s parking lot, have forced me to confront what I, from my privileged position, have thus far failed to adequately confront: that Jim Crow racism and systemic white privilege are still very much alive and in force today. Those insidious, and deeply held convictions and institutions cannot be denied or ignored or eroded by looking away and complaining. They need to be acknowledged and addressed and vigorously opposed by me, and by each of us daily, at every opportunity. And I as a white male steeped in a lifetime of systemic white 

privilege, must look to my black brothers and sisters for guidance and direction, to struggle to gain a new understanding of the world, not the world as I have been given to believe it to be. 

Music for Reflection Father’s Day Tribute: “Cannon in D” Robert Niedermeyer 

Father’s Day Tribute #5: Chloe and Ella Morgen  

Offering Introduction: Adia Fields-Udofia, Director of Religious Education 

The offering that we take each Sunday isn’t just a stale habit: it’s an opportunity to recommit to this place, and to this people. Our offering is an affirmation—a “yes.” When we give, we say yes to something we value. With our gifts, freely given, may we say yes to the values of our faith. 

May our text-to-give offering help us practice Unitarian Universalism within and beyond our congregation, as tools to empower our mission. The text to give information will appear at the beginning of this video which has music composed by our own Anthony Kahn, a member of our youth group. Our offering will now be given and gratefully received. 

Offering Video

To the work of this congregation, which is weaving a tapestry of love and action, we dedicate our offerings and the best of who we are. 

Benediction Adia Fields-Udofia 

Please consider joining us for coffee hour. The link and password will be posted in that chat. 

I’d like to close today with an amended prayer by Rev Eric Williams and Rev Alan Patton 

Blessed is the path on which you travel. 
Blessed is the body that carries you upon it. 
Blessed is your heart that has heard the call. 
Blessed is your mind that discerns the way. 
Blessed are your eyes that they may see the needs of others 
Blessed are your ears that you may hear their cries 
Be blessed with courage to defend the weak among the anger of the strong 
Be blessed with determination to defend the poor among the anger of the rich 
Blessed is the gift that you will receive by going. 
Truly blessed is the gift that you will become on the journey 

May you go forth in peace. Amen 

Music Going Forth Jim Pearce