Emancipation Service 2021 will be held virtually this year to ensure that people continue to remain safe during COVID-19.
According to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley, this year’s service will reflect our ancestral history and emancipation story. In addition, a special remembrance will be held for those who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 virus.
“Now more than ever, the Virgin Islands must continue to unite in the strength of prayer and purpose. We must continue to remember the strength of our ancestors and foreparents who, like us, went through similar experiences and they always came together, unified for the Virgin Islands, and our action must be no different.”
The annual Emancipation Service will be held on the first Sunday in August. The service which will be held virtually and will include remarks by Minister Wheatley and Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie. There will also be tributes and presentations from various churches as well as original pieces from the Virgin Islands Poet Laureate, Dr. Richard Georges; writer and researcher, Eugenia O’Neal and singer/songwriter, Mr. Jovan Cline.
The sermon for the day will be given by Senior Pastor of the Cane Garden Bay Baptist Church and Chairman of the Virgin Islands Heritage Month Committee, Reverend Dr. Melvin A. Turnbull.
Director for Culture, Dr. Katherine Smith said, “It was heartwarming to witness the spirit of compassion with which the churches and participants in our virtual Emancipation Service 2021 are giving of their time and talents.”
She added, “This special remembrance ceremony will be held in honour of those who have passed due to the COVID-19 virus even as the commemoration of our ancestors remains the reason for this virtual service.”
To ensure the health and safety of persons in the Virgin Islands during this time where the Territory is experiencing a COVID-19 spike, the Festival and Fairs Committee has cancelled the Emancipation Celebration events except for the Emancipation Service. More information will be provided at a later date on the Miss BVI pageant.
The public is invited to tune in to the Emancipation Service on Sunday, August 1 at 3:00 p.m. The service will be streamed on the Government of the Virgin Islands’ Facebook page (@BVIGovernment) and ZBVI Radio.
The Emancipation Service is held every year on the first Sunday in August and celebrates freedom from colonialism and slavery through prayer and worship. The following first Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are holidays to celebrate the history and culture of the people with different activities ranging from musical and talent shows, to cultural displays of food and games. On August 1, 1834, the Emancipation Act saw the abolition of slavery from Britain.