MONTMORENCI — A celebration of cultural awareness came to life at Mt. Hill Community Fellowship Church on Sunday, as congregations from several churches observed Kwanzaa with festivities that reaffirmed the need for family, community and tradition.

“We’re rekindling what’s important to one’s culture,” said the Rev. Joseph Harrison Jr. of Mt. Hill Community Fellowship Church.

The celebration included a dialogue that featured a panel of community leaders, song, dance and poetry that paid homage to black history and heritage. Afrocentric attire was also worn in honor of the occasion.

Community investment, education, discipline, unity, loving one another more, getting our lives in order, directing our energies toward Christ and having the courage to address problems were topics discussed by the panelists.

Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in the United States, but its origins can be traced to Africa.

The Nguzo Saba, or Kwanzaa, upholds seven principles – Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and reponsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative ecomomics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith) – that are relevant to everyone’s lives, said Harrison.

“In the black community, the African American community, we have lost a sense of foundation of our history, especially our younger generation,” said Harrison. “The principles that we are trying to instill in them are the principles that have sustained us.”

There were several themes that resonated at the celebration. Kwanzaa provides families an opportunity during the seven-day celebration to discuss each one of the principles and the chance to evaluate oneself.

Everyone has value, talent and potential, and being able to identify that in oneself will help you in giving back to the community, said Harrison.

“The family is the glue that held us together,” said Harrison. “That extended to not only our nuclear family but our church family and our community. It takes a village to raise a child. We do this today to remind us of what’s important.”

Elder Ed Wright used the Acronym “ACE” to convey to the congregation that one can maintain strength by self-determination. ACES stands for attitude, maintaining a positive attitude; confidence, developing self-confidence, and effort, making an effort can make for a stronger community.

There appears to be a void in unity, especially when it comes to the younger generation who aren’t familiar with their history or heritage, said Wright.

“We wanted to have a celebration but also a worship experience, ending the year in prayer and together in fellowship,” said the Rev. Brendolyn Jenkins-Boseman.