Juneteenth Worship and Prayer Resources
In observance of the first national recognition of Juneteenth in the United States, these prayers, Scriptures, and music suggestions reflect the history, heart, and hope of African Americans.
(Suggestions for language modifications appear in brackets for use in non-African American, non-United States contexts.)
Call to Worship
Leader: Hear, O people of God, and declare that the Lord is our God.
People: Our Lord is indeed God, the One who is Creator of heaven and earth and all who dwell in it.
Leader: We gather in response and gratitude to God’s invitation and love for us.
People: We’ve come to worship the God who created all humanity in God’s image and likeness, equal in dignity and worthy of regard and care.
Leader: Let us worship our great God together.
People: To the God of justice, love, and peace we lift up our hearts and minds and voices.
Leader: For even in the midst of injustice and oppression, this is still the day that the Lord has made.
People: And we shall rejoice and be glad in it.
- Psalm 3
- Psalm 5
- Psalm 10
- Psalm 35
- Psalm 37:1-2, 5-7(8-10), 9-40
- Psalm 70
- Psalm 71
- Psalm 124
- Psalm 137
- Psalm 142
- Jeremiah 29:11
Opening Prayer | Invocation
Loving and Liberating God, You who desire the freedom and flourishing of all creation, manifest yourself among us as we worship You today. On this first national observance of the emancipation of enslaved Africana people [in this country] [in America], prepare our hearts to hear and receive what your Spirit will say to us through the Word and prayers, the sermon and song. Clarify our vision so that we may recognize and equally regard the humanity of all people. Reorient our hearts and our minds so that after we depart from this service we may continue your ministry of justice, liberation, and love to and for all in this country and the world. In the name of Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit we pray. Amen.
Faithful God, we are grateful for all the ways You met and spoke to us in this worship service. May all that You have spoken take deep root in the soil of our souls and find expression in our words and deeds. Keep before us the love, care, and concern You have for all people and, on this day, especially for the descendants of enslaved Africana people [in this country] [in America]. Help us to remember that we have a holy responsibility to see and treat them as You do: worthy of regard, respect, honor, and care, today and every day. Grant us the courage and strength not to grow weary or abandon this holy responsibility, and may we be your hands, your feet, and your voice in this world to accomplish it. We offer this prayer, and ourselves, to You in the name of the Liberating Christ, who with the Holy Spirit abides with You forever, Holy One, Holy Three. Amen.
Prayer of Remembrance
Holy God of Liberation and Justice, we thank You for this day. We bless You for your unfailing love, care, and concern for all who have been and are marginalized, oppressed, and enslaved, throughout human history up to this very day. Today we give You special thanks for your unfailing love, care, and concern for the descendants of enslaved Africana people [in this country] [in America].
We remember and lift up [our ancestors] [all the souls] who were forcibly taken from Africa, taken from their families and tribes and villages and lands.
We remember and lift up [our ancestors] [all the souls] who chose the Atlantic Ocean as their grave instead of enslavement in an unknown land.
We remember and lift up [our ancestors] [all the souls] who arrived and survived on these shores even as their humanity was denied, their bodies were abused, and their labor was exploited.
We remember and lift up [our ancestors] [all the souls] whose lives were brutally ended by enslavers and their descendants out of entitlement, anger, envy, resentment, spitefulness, fear, bigotry, racism, and sheer, unbridled evil.
We remember and lift up [our ancestors] [all the souls] who survived in the face of and in spite of the heinous horrors of enslavement and those who enslaved them. Thank You for the strength, tenacity, ingenuity, wisdom, perseverance, and resilience with which You imbued them. Thank You for bringing [our ancestors] [them] through the eras and times of enslavement, Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and fights for civil rights.
We thank You for how those attributes continue to live on in [us] [our] [their] descendants in spite of systems and people who still seek [our] [their] destruction.
And while we acknowledge and are grateful for this day as the first national observance of Juneteenth [in this country] [in America], we praise You for always acknowledging and loving [us] [the descendants of enslaved Africana people] as your children and always desiring [our] [their] full emancipation and [our] [their] full flourishing.
As we remember and lift up those in the American context, we also remember and lift up all people of African heritage around the world who suffer marginalization, oppression, and enslavement because of the color of their skin. God, we pray for your justice, liberation, and love to meet them in their circumstances so that they may be fully free to live safely and abundantly in this life.
Loving and Liberating God, may your vision, love, care, and concern for all people of African descent be fully realized in our lifetime. Help and strengthen us to partner with You in working to make it so.
We offer this prayer, and ourselves, to You in the name of the Liberating Christ, who with the Holy Spirit abides with You forever, Holy One, Holy Three. Amen.
- “A Better Day Is Coming.” (OLOFOB 604)
- “Be Still, God Will Fight Your Battles.” (OLOFOB 473)
- “Down Through the Years (God’s Been Good to Me).”
- “Even Me.” (OLOFOB 167)
- “For the Healing of the Nations.” (UMC hymnal 428)
- “God of Freedom, God of Justice.” (OLOFOB 572)
- “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
- “Guide My Feet.” (OLOFOB 223)
- “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired.” Text and tune by Curtis Burrell ©1978, 1984, Savgos Music, Inc. (OLOFOB 490)*
- “I Will Make the Darkness Light.” Text and tune by Charles Price Jones ©1916. Public Domain. (OLOFOB 121)
- “If It Had Not Been for the Lord.” (Margaret P. Douroux)*
- “Jesus, You Brought Me All the Way.” Text and tune by Kenneth W. Louis from The Mass of St. Cyprian. © 1916 GIA Publications, Inc.*
- “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Text by James W. Johnson. (OLOFOB 632)
- “The Lord Will Hear the Just When They Cry Out.” Text and tune by Kenneth W. Louis from The Mass of St. Cyprian. © 1916 GIA Publications, Inc.
- “Oh, Freedom.” (OLOFOB 634)
- “Thank You for Hearing Our Prayer.” (OLOFOB 82)*
- “The Angels Keep Watchin’.” (OLOFOB 224)
- “We’ve Come This Far By Faith.”
- “We Shall Overcome.” (OLOFOB 631)
*On Hymnary; copyrighted.