Change Font Size:   A A A

Jan 19, 2011

Cathedral Hosts Absalom Jones Celebration, February 5

More than 200 years ago, Absalom Jones’ ministry helped to establish the African American Episcopal experience. Today, Jones is found among the saints of the Church whose lives expressed the presence of Christ. His saint’s day falls during Black History Month, on February 13 and will be celebrated with a festival Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral in Downtown Houston on Saturday, February 5 at 10 a.m. The Rev. Canon Harold T. Lewis, author and professor, will speak at a luncheon following the Eucharist.

The Rev. Absalom Jones was the first African American ordained as an Episcopal priest in the United States. In 1794, he founded the St. Thomas African Episcopal Church in Philadelphia - the first Episcopal Church with a Black congregation in America.

The African Church applied for membership in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania asking to be received as an organized body with control over their local affairs and that Jones be their licensed lay leader. He was ordained deacon in 1795 and priest on September 21, 1802. St. Thomas was admitted recognized by the diocese in October 1794.

Jones was an earnest preacher, denouncing slavery, and warning oppressors to "clean their hands of slaves." To him, God was the Father who always acted "on behalf of the oppressed and distressed." But it was his constant visiting and mild manner that made him beloved by his own flock and by the community. St. Thomas grew to more than 500 members during its first year. Known as the "Black Bishop of the Episcopal Church," Jones was an example of stalwart faith in God and in the Church as God’s instrument to uplift the oppressed.

In the twentieth century, Jones was received by the Episcopal Church as a common or people’s saint in recognition of his exemplary life as a man of God and the legacy that his presence and his ministry have contributed to the soul of the Church.

Lewis, a native of Brooklyn, has served as rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, since 1996 and has served churches in Washington, D.C., England, Honduras. He was formerly on the staff of the Presiding Bishop as director of Black Ministries. Lewis earned a masters from Yale Divinity and a doctorate of philosophy in theology from the University of Birmingham, and is a former research fellow at St. John’s College, Cambridge. Lewis will also be signing his latest book, A Church for the Future.

This event is sponsored by the diocesan Commission on Black Ministry and the John D. Epps Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

Absalom Jones Prayer
Set us free, O heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of thy servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which thou has given us in thy son our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalm 137:1-6 or 126
Isaiah 61:1-4 or 42:5-9
John 15:12-15 

Register for the Absolom Jones event now.

Special Guest: The Rev. Canon Harold T. Lewis – Luncheon speaker following the service. The Luncheon – featuring Treebeards specials, will be at the Great Hall starting about 11:30 a.m.

The Rev. Canon Lewis will also be book signing his new release ‘A Church for the future’.

Special presentations by the six Texas Diocesan Black Priests.

Sponsored by the Committee on Black Ministry and John Epps Chapter of Union of Black Episcopalians.