Today the Church remembers the life and ministry of Absalom Jones, the first Black Episcopal priest and he was ordained deacon in 1795 and priest in 1802 (61 years before the Civil War). (By contrast, Augustus Tolton was the first Black to be ordained a Roman Catholic priest was in 1866, a year after the Civil War ended.)
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church at the time was Williams White (1789-1st PB; 1795–1836-4th PB). James Kiefer writes: “1786 the membership of St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia included both blacks and whites. However, the white members met that year and decided that thereafter black members should sit only in the balcony. Two black Sunday worshippers, Absalom Jones (1746-1818) and Richard Allen (1760-1831), whose enthusiasm for the Methodist Church had brought many blacks into the congregation, learned of the decision only when, on the following Sunday, ushers tapped them on the shoulder during the opening prayers, and demanded that they move to the balcony without waiting for the end of the prayer. They walked out, followed by the other black members. Absalom Jones conferred with William White, Episcopal Bishop of Philadelphia, who agreed to accept the group as an Episcopal parish.”
That parish, St. Thomas, has thrived since the late 1700s to this very day where Fr. Martini Shaw serves as the parish’s 17th rector. Here is a link to their parish’s website: http://www.aecst.org/.
On Saturday, 22 February at 11 A.M. at St. James Episcopal Church on 3129 Southmore, Houston, the Diocese will gather together to celebrate the life and ministry of Absalom Jones. Please come, if you are able, and be a part of the celebration.
Let us pray: Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear: that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servants Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Seaside Seniors will celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on Thursday, 20 February starting at 11 A.M. The children, under Lee Runion’s guidance (and maybe the help of some adults), are making the centerpieces.
Please remember everyone on our Prayer List, especially Pat, Xavier, Patricia and Karen.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550