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This is a day to enjoy freedom
In the pulpit
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Many years have passed, but some traditions will never fade. One of the oldest traditions in Liberty County is the annual Emancipation Proclamation Observance Day celebration.
Commemorating the 1863 signing of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which began the process of freeing slaves, the event gets bigger every year. While many counties in Georgia do not have such a day, Liberty County, with its rich history, continues to be in the forefront. This tradition began at the Crossroads community in Riceboro, and has been passed from generation to generation.  
As soon as one celebration culminates, plans for the next one begin. Folks have always gathered for this celebration at noon on New Year’s Day. Year after year, people from across the community come to hear fabulous singing, dynamic speakers, and to reflect and further educate themselves on their rich heritage.  
The year’s speaker is Rev. James L. Evans of Liberty County. Evans, a graduate of the Liberty County School System, is the pastor at St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Ludowici. He is employed with the civil service at Fort Stewart.
“My fond memories of the Emancipation Observance Day program are all centered around a sense of togetherness,” Evans said. “As a people united for one common bond (freedom), we can all come together in one place and give God thanks for our deliverance.
“When I was asked to be the speaker, for just a moment I was in a state of shock and disbelief. Being a chosen vessel of God, I should not have been, but I was. Since I have had some time to reflect on being selected, I have been humbled even more.  
“When I think of all the ministers in Liberty and surrounding counties who could have been asked, I feel so honored. The Emancipation celebration is such an historical event in itself; and as we begin another new year with President-elect Barack Obama being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, it makes the 2009 Emancipation event even more special.
“The observance serves as a constant reminder of being set free by man, but perhaps more importantly, knowing that it was God working through man to make it all happen. I am free, and everyday I give thanks unto God for making me free.”
The 2009 Emancipation Proclamation Observance is set for Bethel African Methodist Church on Gause Street in Hinesville. Richie Williams will be the host pastor.
For more information, call the Rev. Hermon Scott at 368-2258 or Lana Walthour at 369-3407.
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