Dr John Guns, the new dean of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, will be the guest speaker at the annual Emancipation Proclamation Service at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 1, sponsored by the Conference of Ministers Baptists of Richmond and environs.
The program, now in its 83rd year, will take place virtually through the Fifth Baptist Church and highlight the importance of freedom and promote continued participation in the struggle to protect voting rights in this time of voter suppression. People can view the program on ZOOM, but should contact Reverend Ricardo Brown of Fifth Baptist Church to obtain the event ID and password or login details. Contact Reverend Brown at (804) 355-1044.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that effective January 1, 1863, all enslaved persons in states engaged in the rebellion against the United States “shall then, henceforth and forever be free.”
The important document, however, applied to millions of people enslaved in Confederate states and not to those in border states who remained loyal to the Union.
Dr Gun graduated from Norfolk State University and obtained his Masters of Divinity and Doctorate in Ministry from VUU, where he served as an Assistant Professor.
Previously, he was dean of the School of Theology at Knoxville College in Tennessee and was senior pastor of St. Paul’s Church in Jacksonville, Fla., Where he led a movement working with young African American men. to help them with work opportunities, avoiding teenage parenthood and the management of law and authority.
In keeping with the tradition of the program, contributions and donations from the event will go to NAACP branches in the region.
Robert N. Barnette Jr., president of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, will make the statement on the purpose of the event.
“What the communities we serve face – the voting rights, the constituencies and the importance of staying in the political process – are an important message to all African Americans,” said Barnette.