Community, Dallas, Faith, Interfaith, Juneteenth

Diverse Faiths, Friends Join to Celebrate Juneteenth

Featured Photo: Marzuq al Jaami of the Islamic community and David Patterson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share a Juneteenth smile. Photo by Mary Ann Taylor.

While it’s true you can’t step into the same stream twice, you do have to come back to that stream to build traditions. No two events are alike, year to year. An important part of returning to the stream is growth—friendships, memories, and commitments.

Celebrating Juneteenth this year in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, members of diverse faith traditions gathered for cheeseburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, Big Red, and, for the second time, homemade teacakes. Attendees included members of Lifeway Church, the Dallas Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, the Bahá’í faith, the Islamic Association of DeSoto, Lover’s Lane United Methodist Church, and Unity Church of Dallas.

(Right to left) Dr. WIllard Smith, pastor of The Answer Church in Atlanta, emcee Dr. ReDonna Polk of Lifeway Church, and Chris McCarty of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The original group was smaller and began with an accidental meeting of Karen Hollie, David Patterson, and Marzuq al Jaami. Dr. Hollie is now Dr. Smith; she and her new husband, Dr. Willard Smith, pastor The Answer Church in Atlanta. Both spoke at the event, emceed by her sister, Dr. ReDonna Polk (who leads Lifeway), and Chris McCarty, an LDS member from Midlothian.

Solotist Dee Morales traditionally sings her gifted Gospel version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Some parts of the event are welcome and expected. Dee Morales of Lifeway always sings “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” acapella and ornamented in her gifted gospel version. Children play games on the spacious rolling hillside at the Oak Cliff LDS building. This year, the cake walk featured a record 62 cakes—people of all ages went home particularly happy.

Planning a lunch for a group of an unknown size can be daunting. Grilling on a hot June day is challenging. Setting up tables and chairs (and afterward putting them away) involves physical labor. It all takes hours. Is it worth it? Words, finally, are just symbols for action. It’s working toward a common goal of friendship that makes the difference. The stream keeps moving. People and circumstances change. So far, to those involved in this unique Dallas celebration, the worth comes from the greater love and appreciation blossoming through the years.

Mary Ann Taylor, Dallas Stake Communication Director

Mary Ann Taylor is communications director for the Dallas Texas Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in Duncanville.