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Celebrate the Feast of Absalom Jones

UBE Arizona hosts a Virtual Observance for the Historic Clergyman

The Arizona Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians and the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona welcomes all to participate in a virtual observance for the Feast of Absalom Jones. This observance celebrates the life and legacy of the first African American priest in the Episcopal Church.

Absalom Jones was born enslaved to a wealthy Anglican planter in 1746 in Delaware. He was recognized as an intelligent child and moved from working in the fields to working in the home, where he learned to read and write. When Absalom was sixteen he moved to Philadelphia where he joined the Methodist Church.

However, he grew disappointed at the racial discrimination he experienced in the Methodist Church. Therefore, he founded the Free African Society with Richard Allen in 1787, a mutual aid society for African Americans. The Free African Society included many people newly freed from slavery after the American Revolutionary War.

In 1794 Jones founded the first black Episcopal congregation, and in 1802, he was ordained and became the first African American priest in the Episcopal Church of the United States. He is listed on the Episcopal calendar of saints. He is remembered liturgically on the date of his death, February 13, in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as “Absalom Jones, Priest, 1818”.

The Virtual Observance Service is a compilation of music, spoken word, homily, and meditation on the impact that Absalom Jones had on America and the Episcopal Church. Featured speakers include The Rev. Mauricio Wilson, The Rev. Anita Braden, The Rev. Rosa Brown, and The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall, Bishop of Arizona.