Commemorating the Life of a Civil Liberty Pioneer
“What we do for the African American community benefits everybody. Anything that knocks down barriers is a good thing.” -Br. Lee Hughes, OP
Bl. (Blessed) Absalom Jones holds a special place in history as a pioneer in civil liberty and service. Born into slavery in Delaware in 1746, Jones purchased freedom for his family and began attending St. George’s Methodist Episcopal congregation which was, nominally, an interracial congregation. However, one Sunday, African American congregants were asked to move from their seats on the first floor to the upper balcony – where they would not be seen. Following this incident, Jones left the congregation but continued to be an active member of the Episcopal Church, going on to be ordained as the first African-American Episcopal priest.
Since his death on February 13, 1818, commemorating the Feast Day of Absalom Jones is one symbolic step we can take as a community toward ensuring that such treatment of African Americans – or any “other” group – is not only never repeated but that we proactively and continuously course-correct to avoid it, always striving to improve equality, fairness and representation for all people.
A celebration of Jones’s Feast Day will take place in the Sanctuary. The service of liturgy and Holy Eucharist is hosted by The Karl and Virginia Washington Arizona Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians, in partnership with the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Arizona.
The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall, sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Arizona, will preside over the service, with a message from guest preacher the Rev. Vanessa MacKenzie, who grew up in Johannesburg under apartheid. Music by Saint Barnabas featuring Ms. Jackie Island of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Phoenix who will sing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.”
This event will be open to all. Questions? Contact Br. Lee Hughes, OP.
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Saint Barnabas recently interviewed Br. Lee Hughes, OP about his work with UBE. Click here to read.
In preparation for welcoming the diocese to our parish, we will take the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the stories of African Americans in the Episcopal Church. You can learn about attending this program by clicking here or you can find videos and handouts from previous sessions by going to our resources page (click below):
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