Saturday, February 13, 2016

For All the Saints: Absalom Jones

The Episcopal Church honors Absalom Jones (1746-1818) today, the anniversary of his death. He was an African American clergyman and abolitionist who was the first black man ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church of America. Freed from slavery in 1784, he had already learned to read and write. He first became one of the first African Americans licensed to preach in the Methodist Church, but although the congregation was interracial, he left when told he and the black members could not sit and kneel with the white members. He and Richard Allen (who became a noted African American Methodist leader) formed a society to help freed slaves, the Free African Society. The services of that organization became the foundation of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Philadelphia's first black church, and Jones was ordained a priest in 1804. He was known for his oratory, his anti-slavery sermons, and his work to end slavery in the U.S and to assist freed slaves.

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