LANSING, MI — Committees are meeting, people are planning, drummers are preparing, and singers are rehearsing for St. Stephen’s Community Church, U.C.C. 24th   Annual Kwanzaa Celebration. This African American cultural event is slated to usher in a new era of the church’s history at St. Stephen’s Community Church, as they introduce our new senior pastor, Rev. Pamelajune “Pastor PJ” Anderson, D.Min.  This year’s ceremony, “Umoja”,  will take place on Monday, December 26, 2011 at 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.  This program will place special emphasis on the importance of unity in our community and how it has brought African Americans from the days of slavery to the White House.  This year’s keynote speaker is educator Dr. Freya Rivers.
Historically, Maulana Karenga, Ph.D., started the seven-day Kwanzaa celebration more than 35 years ago.  Dr. Karenga, chairman of the Black Studies Department of California State University, created Kwanzaa to introduce the values, customs and traditions of Africa and to increase the awareness in African-Americans of their own rich cultural heritage. The celebration includes music, dance, poetry, and feasting on African/African American/Caribbean foods.  The holiday also includes the affirmation of seven Kwanzaa principles, and symbols that represent the spirit and meaning of Kwanzaa.  In Swahili, Kwanzaa means “first fruits of harvest.” For more information, please visit Dr. Karenga’s Official Kwanzaa website at  
The seven principles that are affirmed along with their Swahili terms are unity (Umoja), self-determination (Kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (Ujima), cooperative economics (Ujamaa), purpose (Nia), creativity (Kuumba) and faith (Imani.)  
The church is located at 1007 Kimberly Drive in Lansing.   The celebrations are free and open to the general public.  For more information, call 517-484-2180.
This was printed in the December 18, 2011 – December 31, 2011 Edition