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Feb 13, 2015 | Carole A. Pinkett

The Episcopal Church Celebrates African American Legacy with Bishop Nathan D. Baxter

February 2, 2015 – Houston, TX – February marks the beginning of Black History Month, a federally recognized, nation-wide celebration that provides the opportunity for all Americans to reflect on the significant roles that African Americans have played in the shaping of U.S. history. It is a perfect time to highlight the contributions that persons of the African diaspora have made to this diocese and the wider communion. The pages of Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints are filled with the names of such persons in the month of February; saints like Absalom Jones, Janani Luwum, Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper and Elizabeth Wright.

Absalom Jones was the first priest in America of African descent (and former slave) to be ordained in the Episcopal Church. In fact, Absalom Jones was the first Black minister of any denomination ordained in the United States. Moreover, in 1973, at the 64th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Absalom Jones was added to the ranks of “common saints” and appointed a feast day in our Church calendar on February 13. Jones’ ministry bore witness to Christ’s death-defying love, in service, in holiness of life and in the face of challenges from existing practices and prejudices from within our Church and our society.

The Rt. Rev. Nathan D. Baxter, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, will lead the Diocese of Texas’ Absalom Jones celebration on Saturday, February 28, 2015, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at St. James’ Episcopal Church, 3129 Southmore Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77004. The event is being co-sponsored by the Commission on Black Ministry for the Diocese of Texas and the host parish, St. James’, Houston. A celebration of the Holy Eucharist will begin the commemoration and will be followed by a reception for Bishop Baxter and his wife, Mary Ellen. Carole A. Pinkett, chair of the Commission on Black Ministry, says “This service is for the entire diocese, and we hope you all will join us.” The February 28 service will feature the St. James’ Choir, Jazz Ensemble and Holy Spirit Dancers. 

Nathan D. Baxter was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania in October 2006 and retired from that position in June 2014. He is a third-generation clergyman; his grandfather was an African Methodist Episcopal Church minister, and his father was a Church of God in Christ pastor. Among his many accomplishments, he is most remembered for his twelve-year term as Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. In that capacity, he eulogized or officiated at the funerals of presidents and other public officials, including Thurgood Marshall. He participated in the National Prayer Service following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Event Information

Name:              Absalom Jones Celebration

Date:                Saturday, February 28, 2015

Time:               11:30 a.m.

Location:         St. James’ Episcopal Church, 3129 Southmore Boulevard, Houston, TX 77004

Admission:       Your Spirited Fellowship

Commission on Black Ministry
The Commission on Black Ministry is an outreach ministry for the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Texas to promote awareness and education of racial and cultural concerns and to allow the opportunity for reconciliation for all people throughout the diocese.  The Commission takes inspiration from Paul’s epistle to the Colossians where he writes “There is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free, but Christ is all and in all!”

About St. James’ Episcopal Church
Established in 1937, St. James’ Episcopal Church is located in Houston’s historic Third Ward. This predominately African American congregation welcomes all to its doors. Known for its dynamic preaching, welcoming congregation and excellence in worship, St. James’ has an ever-expanding ministry to children and young people. Sunday services are at 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The church is located at 3129 Southmore Boulevard, Houston, TX 77004. The website is and the telephone number is 713.526.9571. The Rev. Victor J. Thomas is the Rector.

Contact: Carole A. Pinkett