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Celebration of Absalom Jones 

“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 took place in our Sanctuary and livestreamed on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 2pm MST.. The service of liturgy and Holy Eucharist was 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. You can scroll down to watch the full service, the sermon by The Rev. Vanessa MacKenzie and read more.

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall, sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Arizona, presided over the service, with a message from guest preacher the Rev. Vanessa MacKenzie, who grew up in Johannesburg under apartheid (scroll down to watch a clip of her message). Music by Saint Barnabas featured Ms. Jackie Island of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Phoenix who sang “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.”
Saint Barnabas interviewed Br. Lee Hughes, OP about his work with the Union of Black Episcopalians. Click here to read.
Want to learn more about the UBE? Contact Br. Lee Hughes, OP.

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African American Spirituality and the Episcopal Church

In preparation for welcoming the diocese to our parish, we took the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the stories of African Americans in the Episcopal Church. You can join our program by clicking here to find videos and handouts available. (click below):

Resource Page

About Saint Barnabas

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