Seal of the Historical Society of the Episcopal ChurchHistorical Society of the
Episcopal Church

HISTORICAL SOCIETY NEWS

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   Next >  Last >> 
  • 2 Aug 2021 9:35 PM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    Dr. Ed BondDuring the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Dr. Robyn M. Neville, President, honored the work of Dr. Ed Bond as Editor-in Chief of Anglican and Episcopal History, the journal of the Society. Below is the citation presented.


    Citation in honor of the work of Dr. Ed Bond

    Dr. Bond came to the editorship of Anglican and Episcopal History as a seasoned scholar.  He received he B.A. in religion from the College of William and Mary; an M.A. from the University of Chicago; and a Ph.D. in history from Louisiana State University.  His scholarly work is significant and wide-ranging.  He has published works on colonial Virginia, including Damned Souls in a Tobacco Colony: Religion in Seventeenth-century Virginia and Spreading the Gospel in Colonial Virginia, comprising two volumes dedicated to preaching and sermons in the Old Dominion. He also lent his expertise to local history publishing a book on the history of St. James Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge Louisiana, as well as co-authoring, with Joan Gunderson, a volume on the history of the Episcopal Church in Virginia, which commemorated the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth.  As a teacher, Dr. Bond served as professor of history at Alabama A&M University and as a Visiting Professor of Church History of the School of Theology at the University of the South. 

    In 2006 the Board of the Historical Society approved the appointment of Dr. Bond as the editor of Anglican and Episcopal History.  The Society’s minutes reflect (then) President Fredrica Harris Thompsett noting that “Dr. Bond will in June 2007 succeed the longtime editor, the Rev. Dr. John F. Woolverton upon his retirement.”  Since his first number of the Journal in September 2007, Dr. Bond admirably served as the John F. Woolverton Editor of Anglican and Episcopal History for the next 56 numbers, totaling 14 years of service. Under his capable leadership, the journal maintained excellent scholarship with an international scope including authors hailing from every continent of the globe (except Antarctica).  Dr. Bond also supervised the transition of the journal to the twenty-first century, supporting the changeover to an electronic format for members and various subscription services, which vastly expanded the accessibility and readership of AEH. Dr. Bond, in recent years, also forged a strong working relationship with the Board’s Publications Committee, whose chair remembers gratefully regular dinner meetings and fellowship in Richmond, while Dr. Bond worked with his newest co-author on their latest book project about the Episcopal Church in Virginia.

    Such career accomplishments are worthy indeed of praise, but the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church also recognizes that Dr. Bond’s efforts were not for his own sake alone but for the greater service of the Church.  To this end, Dr. Bond’s service furthered the mission of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church by promoting “the preservation of the particular heritage of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and its antecedents in order that the Church may be served in its mission of proclaiming Christ crucified and risen, and in its servanthood in the world.”  For this, Dr. Bond has the thanks of the Publications Committee, the Board, this president, and the membership of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church.

    We have come to understand that Dr. Bond collects vintage cufflinks. We present to Dr. Bond, as a token of our esteem and gratitude, this pair of vintage Soviet-era Amazonite cufflinks.

    Vintage Soviet-era Amazonite cufflinks In my own undergraduate years at the College of William and Mary, I double-majored in both Religious Studies and Geology. It might interest Dr. Bond to know that potassium feldspar, which is what Amazonite is (in the "microcline" family of potassium feldspars), actually has a storied history. It was used by the Egyptians in funerary decorations (on King Tut's funeral mask, for example), and by Amazon peoples in religious rituals (although what those rituals entailed, we simply don't know). The cufflinks as they appear here have a number of Albite inclusions (those are the white, wavy-looking strata that appear in alternating patterns), which would have seeped in during the process of igneous formation. Igneous minerals form in the Earth's crust out of the dual processes of both pressure and time. It seems to me that both historians and editors operate under analogous processes of pressure and time, with demonstrably beautiful results.

    We are grateful to Dr. Bond for his dedicated service, witness, and sense of Christian mission. I invite us now to bow our heads for a prayer in thanksgiving of Dr. Bond’s work as editor, a ministry that he has imbued with his own personal style and expertise.

    The Lord be with you.

    And also with you.

    Let us pray.

    We give thanks to you, O Lord our God, for all your servants and witnesses of time past: for Abraham, the father of believers, and Sarah his wife; for Moses, the lawgiver, and Aaron, the priest; for Miriam and Joshua, Deborah and Gideon, and Samuel with Hannah his mother; for Isaiah and all the prophets; for Mary, the mother of our Lord; for Peter and Paul and all the apostles; for Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene; for Stephen, the first martyr, and all the martyrs and saints in every age and in every land. In your mercy, O Lord our God, give us, as you gave to them, the hope of salvation and the promise of eternal life; and we ask especially for your continued blessings on our colleague, Ed Bond, in gratitude for his ministry and service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the first-born of all who serve the Kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


  • 30 Jul 2021 8:26 PM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    The Rev. Dr. Alan HayesThe Historical Society of the Episcopal Church is pleased to announce the Rev. Dr. Alan Hayes as recipient of the 2021 Nelson R. Burr Prize. Hayes is the Bishops Frederick and Heber Wilkinson Professor of the History of Christianity, Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. A priest in the Anglican Diocese of Niagara, Canada, he earned a B.A. from Pomona College, a B.D. and a Ph.D. from McGill University.

    Dr. Hayes is honored for his article “The Elusive Goal: The Commitment to Indigenous Self-Determination in the Anglican Church of Canada, 1967-2020,” published in the September 2020 issue of Anglican and Episcopal History (Volume 89, No. 3), where he argues “…colonial assumptions and structures have proven tenacious, and that, although Indigenous self-determination is consistent with historical patterns of Christian mission and organization, the theological, constitutional, and financial obstacles to decolonization have defied solution.” Models which could better promote indigenous self-determination within the Anglican Church of Canada are explored.

    The Burr prize honors the renowned scholar Nelson R. Burr, whose two-volume A Critical Bibliography of Religion in America (1961) and other works constitute landmarks in the field of religious historiography. A selection committee of the Historical Society determines an author of the most outstanding article in the Society's journal. The award also honors that which best exemplifies excellence and innovative scholarship in the field of Anglican and Episcopal history.

    The Burr selection committee also decided two other articles that merit recognition for excellent and timely scholarship. Samuel J. Richards’ “Historical Revision in Church: Re-examining the ‘Saint’ Edward Colston,” published in the September 2020 issue, investigates the legacy of a philanthropist, enslaver, and High Anglican who lived from 1636 to 1721. David M. Goldberg’s “Drink Ye All of This: The Episcopal Church and the Temperance Movement,” published in the March 2020 issue examines the Episcopal Church’s approach to the temperance movement of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

    Each article is available as a PDF by clicking the title.

  • 29 Jul 2021 9:17 PM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    The summer 2021 issue of Anglican and Episcopal History (AEH) represents a wide range of Anglicanism. It includes peer-reviewed studies related to trans-Atlantic Anglo-Catholic networks and ways the Book of Common Prayer shaped Unitarianism. The summer issue also includes church reviews and book reviews.

    This issue of AEH also marks the final one for Ed Bond as editor-in-chief. Bond, an expert in the history of colonial Virginia, is retiring after long-time service that began in 2007.

    In Bond’s final issue, the lead study examines ways Anglo-Catholicism and Confederate sympathies in England influenced fundraising efforts for the University of the South, Sewanee, led by the then-Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee.

    In this study, Sewanee church history professor Benjamin J. King calls for a closer examination of cotton manufacturing connections between England and the American South. He argues that “such research opens up a new field of enquiry in ecclesiastical and Confederate history by examining those lay and ordained Tractarians in Britain who were Confederate supporters.”

    King’s study is titled “Church, Cotton, and Confederates: What Bishop Charles Todd Quintard’s Fundraising Trips to Great Britain Reveal About Some Nineteenth-Century Anglo-Catholics.” He shared an earlier version of this study with the Anglo-Catholic Historical Society.

    David Ney then examines ways fondness for “the central role of common prayer” influences the Anglican faith. Ney uses Prosper of Aquitaine’s well-known dictum Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi to frame his analysis.

    Using Theophilus Lindsey (1723-1808) as a case study, Ney warns that, “The story of the genesis of the Unitarian Church invites clergy, liturgists, and worship leaders to consider whether what is corporately prayed (and sung) accords with what is said to be believed.” Lindsey, a Church of England priest, later founded the Unitarian church in England and introduced his own revised Book of Common Prayer in 1774.

    Ney is a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada and associate professor of church history at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa.

    AEH also includes three church reviews in its summer issue.

    Church review editor J. Barrington Bates examines ongoing adaptations to worship during the covid pandemic. He examines ways Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago has used podcasts during “coronatide.” Other reviews examine a Triduum custom among Lutheran seminarians in Philadelphia and Gettysburg, Pa., and Sunday worship at St. Ursula’s Anglican Church in Bern, Switzerland, part of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe.

    Subscribers will also enjoy over 20 book reviews related to church history and the global Anglican Communion.

    Examples include:

    Bloy House seminarian Kathryn Nishibayashi’s review of Asian and Asian American Women in Theology and Religion edited by former Episcopal Divinity School professor Kwok Pui-Lan. Nishibayahsi praises this collection of essays because it “…sheds light on this group of relatively unknown women” and helps move discussions of race in the United States beyond a predominately black/white binary.

    Benjamin M. Guyer of the University of Tennessee at Martin reviews Peter Marshall’s Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation, calling it “a model of dispassionate reading and incisive analysis.”

    Sr. Mary Winifred from the Episcopal Diocese of Easton reviews Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s Faith and Courage: Praying with Mandela. A book she describes as being about “reconciliation and love” and “full of insight and understanding.”

    Well-known author Christopher L. Webber reviews the republished paperback version of Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America by University of Pittsburgh professor Kirk Savage. Webber writes the book “…gives us so much to think about” and that it “leads us carefully through the history of the monument movement and helps us understand how carefully citizens and committees and sculptors worked to create monuments.”

    The summer issue of AEH is available to members of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church and later available via JSTOR.org and other online services.

  • 28 Jun 2021 9:08 PM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    The Annual Meeting of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. The meeting will include reports on the activities of the Historical Society over the past year and elections. There will be time allowed for members to share thoughts and ideas for the good of the order.

    The Rev. Dr. Robyn Neville, President, will chair the meeting. Additional reports will include the awarding of grants to recipients, the status of the Historical Society’s quarterly journal, Anglican and Episcopal History, the recipient of the Burr Prize for the best article in the journal, a financial report and a report on the African American Episcopal Historical Collection.

    If you are a member of the Historical Society you may register by visiting hsec.us/annualmeeting or may contact Matthew Payne, Director of Operations, at administration@hsec.us or (920) 383-1910.

  • 11 May 2021 7:05 PM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    10 original contributions from presentations at the 2019 Tri-History Conference in Toronto have been published as a book. Trauma and Survival in the Contemporary Church: Historical Responses in the Anglican Tradition, edited by Jonathan Lofft and Thomas Power, adds a layer to the phenomenon of trauma reflecting experience within the context of the church, specifically the worldwide Anglican Communion.

    Readers may explore of a variety of impacts and effects on individuals, groups and the institution of the Church caused by trauma. Chapters include:

    • Samuel Hume Blake’s Pan-Anglican Exertions: Stopping the Expansion of Residential and Industrial Schools for Canada’s Indigenous Children, 1908 by William Acres
    • Postwar Pacifism, Trauma, and The Canadian Churchman, 1919-1939 Gordon L. Heath
    • ‘Behold the Deaconess and the Rector of St. George’s’: Sexual Harassment, Church Polity, and Middle Class Respectability in Early Twentieth Century Canadian Anglicanism by Norman Knowles
    • Transmuting Trauma: The Emergence and Proliferation of War Honour Rolls in Anglican Churches by Glenn J Lockwood
    • Anglican Orders after Apostolicae Curae by J. Luis Dizon
    • Post-War Trauma: Church Growth and Contraction in Toronto by David Harrison
    • The Church of Ireland: Trauma, Opportunity, Legacy by Thomas P. Power
    • Southern Protestant Experiences during the Irish Revolution, 1919-1923: Reports from Church of Ireland Synods by Brian M. Walker
    • Earthquake Trauma, Recovery and Resilience: The Story of Christchurch Cathedral, Aotearoa New Zealand by Victoria Matthews
    • Recovery from an Evangelical and Pentecostal Cult W. by David Neelands
    Learn more here
  • 29 Mar 2021 6:59 PM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    The spring 2021 issue of Anglican and Episcopal History (AEH) considers approaches by Anglican Communion clerics responding to racist policies in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and at the University of the South, Sewanee. These two research essays are complemented by 3 church reviews and 25 book reviews.

    In “The Brightness of Dying: Arthur Shearly Cripps as Poet and Priest,” Deanna Briody investigates one missionary’s work among the Mashona people in Southern Rhodesia. She examines the English-born Cripps’ (1869-1952) prolific writing focused on Christology as “the central and driving force of his life” to conclude that his “theology of God as self-emptying sufferer… informed his poetic vision.” Briody considers Cripps’ hatred of racism as motivating his advocacy of territorial segregation in An Africa for Africans (1927). The irony of advocating racial segregation as a practical way to protect Mashona land from European encroachment adds complexity to historical debates.

    Briody is graduate writing tutor at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa. She attends Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Pittsburgh.

    The Rev. Brandt L. Montgomery, chaplain of St. James School near Hagerstown in the Diocese of Maryland, then considers the sixth Bishop of Alabama’s actions during the 1952-53 integration debate at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

    In “Charles Colcock Jones Carpenter and the Sewanee Integration Controversy,” Montgomery argues that the Sewanee debate “…was a turning point for Carpenter on the issue of race” which moved him “toward a gradualist integration philosophy” designed to combat fears of “social chaos.” A decade later, Bishop Carpenter (1899-1969) became lead signatory to the 1963 “Statement by Alabama Clergymen” that was rebuked by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his iconic “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Montgomery concludes that Carpenter’s gradualist approach put him on “the negative side of civil rights history.”

    In addition to these two studies, church review editor J. Barrington Bates offers his third reflection on approaches to worship in Episcopal churches during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a detailed account of the Anglo-Catholic St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, part of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. A second church review invites readers to learn about a pre-pandemic Sunday Mass at Old St. Paul’s in Edinburgh, part of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and a final piece considers the three mainline Protestant chapels of Berry College, an institution founded by educational pioneer and Episcopalian Martha Berry (1865-1942), in Rome, Georgia.

    These articles along with a wide range of book reviews related to current scholarship are available immediately to members of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church. Articles are later indexed on JSTOR.org and other online platforms.

  • 15 Feb 2021 8:48 PM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    The Historical Society of the Episcopal Church invites applications for grants to be made in 2021. Awards are made as one of the Society’s objectives: promotion of the preservation of the particular heritage of the Episcopal Church and its antecedents. To be considered, applications must be submitted by May 1st with awards announced in July. Recipients are expected to make an appropriate submission to the Society’s journal, Anglican and Episcopal History.

    General Grants
    Applications for a general grant may come from individuals as well as academic and ecclesiastical groups. Requests are received to support significant research, conferences, and publication relating to the history of the Episcopal Church as well as the Anglican church in the worldwide Anglican Communion. A typical request may include funding for travel to visit archives or other resources, dissertation research, or seed money or support for a larger project. Examples of past awards funded include support of documentary films, dissertation research, publication of books and articles, support for a history conference and other purposes. Awards funded are generally $500-$2,000, depending on the number of awards approved and amount of funds available.

    Robert W. Prichard Prize next awarded in July 2022.
    The Robert W. Prichard Prize recognizes the best Ph.D., Th.D., or D.Phil. dissertation which considers the history of the Episcopal Church (including 17th and 18th century British colonies that became the United States) as well as the Anglican church in the worldwide Anglican Communion. The prize is named to honor the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Prichard, a noted historian and author in the discipline who was a longtime member and President of the Historical Society Board. The application process opens February 1, 2022. Applicants may submit a dissertation for consideration successfully defended between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2021. It may be submitted by the author or on their behalf. The dissertation need not focus solely, or even principally, on the history of the Episcopal Church or Anglicanism. The selection committee welcomes dissertations which place that history in conjunction with other strands of church history, or even place it in dialogue with non-ecclesial themes of American history. The Episcopal or Anglican element of the work should be a constitutive, not peripheral, part of the dissertation. Submissions should be a full electronic version of the dissertation, complete with all scholarly apparatus. The recipient will receive a $2,000 prize and be a guest of the Historical Society at the HSEC Annual Meeting to receive the award.

    For details including application instruction and information, visit hsec.us/grants.

  • 8 Jan 2021 3:08 PM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    Anglican and Episcopal History 2020The winter issue of Anglican and Episcopal History (AEH) is now in print. The latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church features studies and book reviews that examine the relationship between monarchy, revolution, Puritanism, and the Church of England.

    Two detailed studies consider the role of Anglicanism in England’s seventeenth century revolutions.

    First, John William Klein considers a rural case study of patronage during the Nonjuring Schism, a division in the Church of England created when some clerics refused to swear allegiance to monarchs William and Mary after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In “Francis Cherry, Patronage, and the Shottesbrooke Nonjurors”, Klein offers a rural case study of patronage based on the relationship between Anglo-Irish scholar and theologian Henry Dodwell the Elder (1641-1711) and country squire Francis Cherry (1665-1713). Klein concludes that the countryside estate of Shottesbrooke Park in Berkshire, England, was “a model of rural patronage and community for Nonjurors” and argues that “patronage was essential to survival of the Nonjurors.” The small Nonjuring movement fizzled by the mid-1700s.

    Kent M. Pettit then invites readers to consider ways King Charles II used the Great Fire of London in 1666 to strengthen the shaky monarchy. Pettit considers the debate between preservation and innovation in regards to the destruction of the medieval Old St. Paul’s Cathedral. He also invites parallels to present-day political and religious discussions in Paris regarding Notre Dame Cathedral. In “Saved as by Fire (and poets): Charles II, Restored Head of the Church”, Pettit argues that Charles II’s leadership and timely maneuvering increased the monarch’s power as the king offered a Christian vision of “grace and hope” in contrast to pessimistic Puritans’ emphasis on “guilt or sin”.

    AEH also includes multiple book reviews related to revolution and the Church of England, Anglican studies, women’s studies, and more.

    In the first book review related to revolution, Norman Jones of Utah State University considers The Puritans: A Transatlantic History by David D. Hall. Then, C. Scott Pryor of Campbell University School of Law reviews Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Thomas Cromwell: A Life; and Tanner J. Moore of Purdue University considers the expanded edition of Not Peace but a Sword: The Political Theology of the English Reformation by Stephen Baskerville.

    Several helpful volumes related to Anglican studies are also included. Among them are: Reasonable Radical? Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy edited by Ian S. Markham and Joshua Daniel; Costly Communion: Ecumenical Initiative and Sacramental Strife in the Anglican Communion edited by Mary Chapman and Jeremy Bonner; The Future of Orthodox Anglicanism edited by Gerald McDermott; and Common Prayer: Reflections on Episcopal Worship by Joseph Pagano and Amy E. Richter.

    Book reviews related to women’s studies include Joan R. Gundersen on Ordinary Saints: Women, Work, and Faith in Newfoundland by Bonnie Morgan and Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook reviewing English Aristocratic Women and the Fabric of Piety, 1450-1550 by Barbara J. Harris and Feminist Interpretations of Mary Astell edited by Alice Sowaal and Penny A. Weiss.

    In addition to these studies and book reviews, church review editor J. Barrington Bates takes readers to a worship service at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Springfield Center, New York, part of the Diocese of Albany.

    These articles and other book reviews in the winter issue are available to members of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church and later available via JSTOR.org and other online services.

  • 29 Dec 2020 12:30 AM | Matthew Payne (Administrator)

    The Rev. Dr. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook has been elected the sixth Editor of Anglican and Episcopal HistoryThe Historical Society of the Episcopal Church announces election of the Rev. Dr. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook to be the sixth Editor of Anglican and Episcopal History, its peer-reviewed journal. Her tenure will follow Dr. Ed Bond who has served as Editor since 2007. One purpose of the Historical Society is promotion of the preservation of the particular heritage of the Episcopal Church and its antecedents. Published quarterly since 1932, the journal aids this purpose and is a vehicle for publication throughout the Anglican Communion.

    Kujawa-Holbrook is Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty of Claremont School of Theology. She holds degrees from Marquette University, Sarah Lawrence College, Harvard Divinity School, Episcopal Divinity School, Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary, and earned a Ph.D. from Boston College. She is a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and serves as a professor of Anglican Studies at Bloy House. An author of thirteen books, numerous articles, training manuals, curricula, and reviews, she is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She worked for the Episcopal Church in education and ministries with young people. She has been Book Review Editor of Anglican and Episcopal History since 2010.

    “My interest in this position is to play a role in defining the field and in setting the stage for the next generation of scholars, practitioners, and interested readers in Anglican and Episcopal History” Kujawa-Holbrook said. She noted that “after a generation in theological education, I am well aware that many of the supports that used to be in place for faculty, emerging scholars, and practitioners are no longer there.” Recognizing a shifting environment, she observes “it is a crucial time to work toward a sustainable future by cultivating research, writing, teaching, and practice in historical studies related to our unique branch of the Christian tradition. All that the journal and our historical organizations do is an investment in the field, integral to sharing the extraordinary richness and depth of our tradition.”

    To ensure a smooth transition, Kujawa-Holbrook will work with retiring Editor Bond over the next two issues. Additional information about Anglican and Episcopal History may be found at hsec.us/aeh.

  • 1 Dec 2020 9:25 PM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    Absalom Jones By Raphaelle Peale - Delaware Art Museum, User:Delart, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6055954For a number of years, Historical Society member, Byron Rushing, worked with St. Thomas African Episcopal Church, Philadelphia and The Union of Black Episcopalians to update the "official" biography of Absalom Jones in Lesser Feasts and Fasts of the Episcopal Church. Rushing is Vice-President of the General Convention's House of Deputies. Earlier volumes of LF&F provided information on Jones that was less accurate than possible and contained a number of errors.

    Arthur Sudler’s biography of Absalom Jones is now the “official” biography in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 on p.90 and reproduced fully below. A few edits were made in the LFF volume to fit onto one page. The printed volume is available from Church Publishing.

    REVISED ABSALOM JONES BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
    By Arthur K. Sudler, William Carl Bolivar Director, Historical Society & Archives, African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

    Absalom Jones was born enslaved to Abraham Wynkoop a wealthy Anglican planter in 1746 in Delaware. He was working in the fields when Abraham recognized that he was an intelligent child and ordered that he be trained to work in the house. Absalom eagerly accepted instruction in reading. He also saved money he was given and bought books (among them a primer, a spelling book, and a bible). Abraham Wynkoop died in 1753 and by 1755 his younger son Benjamin had inherited the plantation. When Absalom was sixteen Benjamin Wynkoop sold the plantation and Absalom’s mother, sister, and five brothers. Wynkoop brought Absalom to Philadelphia where he opened a store and joined St. Peter’s Church. In Philadelphia Benjamin Wynkoop permitted Absalom to attend a night school for black people that was operated by Quakers following the tradition established by abolitionist teacher Anthony Benezet.

    At twenty, with the permission of their masters, Absalom married Mary Thomas who was enslaved to Sarah King who also worshipped at St. Peter’s. The Rev. Jacob Duche performed the wedding at Christ Church. Absalom and his father-in-law, John Thomas, used their savings, and sought donations and loans primarily from prominent Quakers, in order to purchase Mary’s freedom. Absalom and Mary worked very hard to repay the money borrowed to buy her freedom. They saved enough money to buy property and to buy Absalom’s freedom. Although he repeatedly asked Benjamin Wynkoop to allow him to buy his freedom Wynkoop refused. Absalom persisted because as long as he was enslaved Wynkoop could take his property and his money. Finally, in 1784 Benjamin Wynkoop freed Absalom by granting him a manumission. Absalom continued to work in Wynkoop’s store as a paid employee.

    Absalom left St. Peter’s Church and began worshipping at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church. He met Richard Allen who had been engaged to preach at St. George’s and the two became lifelong friends, Together, in 1787, they founded the Free African Society a mutual aid benevolent organization that was the first of its kind organized by and for black people. Members of the Society paid monthly dues for the benefit of those in need. At St George’s, Absalom and Richard served as lay ministers for the black membership. The active evangelism of Jones and Allen, greatly increased black membership at St George’s. The black members worked hard to help raise money to build an upstairs gallery intended to enlarge the church. The church leadership decided to segregate the black worshippers in the gallery, without notifying them. During a Sunday morning service a dispute arose over the seats black members had been instructed to take in the gallery and ushers attempted to physically remove them by first accosting Absalom Jones. Most of the black members present indignantly walked out of St. George’s in a body.

    Prior to the incident at St. George’s the Free African Society had initiated religious services. Some of these services were presided over by The Rev. Joseph Pilmore an assistant St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The Society established communication with similar black groups in other cities. In 1792 the Society began to build the African Church of Philadelphia. The church membership took a denominational vote and decided to affiliate with the Episcopal Church. Richard Allen withdrew from the effort as he favored affiliation with the Methodist Church. Absalom Jones was asked to provide pastoral leadership and after prayer and reflection he accepted the call.

    The African Church was dedicated on July 17, 1794. The Rev. Dr. Samuel Magaw, rector St. Paul’s Church, preached the dedicatory address. Dr. Magaw was assisted at the service by The Rev. James Abercrombie, assistant minister at Christ Church. Soon thereafter the congregation applied for membership in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania on the following conditions: 1) that they be received as an organized body; 2) that they have control over their own local affairs; 3) that Absalom Jones be licensed as layreader, and, if qualified, be ordained as minister. In October 1794 it was admitted as the African Episcopal Church of St Thomas. The church was incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1796. Bishop William White ordained Jones as deacon in 1795 and as priest on September 21, 1802.

    Jones was an earnest preacher. He denounced slavery, and warned the 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 congregation and by the community. St Thomas Church grew to over 500 members during its first year. The congregants formed a day school and were active in moral uplift, self-empowerment, and anti-slavery activities. Known as “the Black Bishop of the Episcopal Church,” Jones was an example of persistent faith in God and in the Church as God’s instrument. Jones died on this day in 1818.

    Absalom's autobiographical sketch from Douglass' Annals (1862):

    ABSALOM JONES AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH/ANNALS*

    The following narrative is copied from the original manuscript written by himself:

    “I, Absalom Jones was born in Sussex,” DEL., “on the 6th of November, 1746. I was small, when my master took me from the field to wait and attend on him in the house; and being very fond of learning, I was careful to save the pennies that were given to me by the ladies and gentlemen from time to time. I soon bought myself a primer, and begged to be taught by any body that I found able and willing to give me the least instruction. Soon after this, I was able to purchase a spelling book; for as my money increased, I supplied myself with books, among others, a Testament. For, fondness for books, gave me little or no time for the amusements that took up the leisure hours of my companions. By this course I became singular, and escaped many evils, and also saved my money.

    In the year 1762, my mother, five brothers and a sister were sold, and I was brought to the city of Philadelphia with my master. My employment in this city was to wait in the store, pack up and carry out goods. In this situation, I had an opportunity, with the clerk, to get copies set for me; so that I was soon able to write to my mother and brothers, with my own hand. My spelling is bad for want of proper schooling.

    In the year 1766, I asked my master the liberty of going one quarter to night-school, which he granted. I had a great desire to learn Arithmetic. In that quarter I learned Addition, Troy weight, Subtraction, Apothecaries’ weight, Practical multiplication, Practical Division, and Reduction.

    In the year 1770, I married a wife who was a slave. I soon after proposed to purchase her freedom. To this her mistress agreed, for the sum of forty pounds. Not having the money in hand, I got an appeal drawn, and John Thomas, my father-in-law, and I called upon some of the principal Friends of this city. From some we borrowed, and from other we received donations. In this way we soon raised thirty pounds of the money, her mistress, Sarah King, forgiving the balance of ten pounds. By this time, my master’s family was increased, and I was much hurried in my servitude. However, I took a house, and for seven years, made it my business to work until twelve or one o’clock at night, to assist my wife in obtaining a livelihood, and to pay the money that was borrowed to purchase her freedom.

    This being fully accomplished, and having a little money in hand, I made application to my master, in the year 1778, to purchase my own freedom; but, as this was not granted, I fortunately met with a small house and lot of ground, to be sold for one hundred and fifty pounds, continental money. Having laid by some hard money, I sold it for continental and purchased the lot. My desire for freedom increased, as I knew that while I was a slave, my house and lot might be taken as the property of my master. This induced me to make many applications to him for liberty to purchase my freedom; and on the first of October, 1784, he generously gave me a manumission. I have ever since continued in his service at good wages, and I still find it my duty, both late and early, to be industrious to improve the little estate that a kind Providence has put in my hands.

    Since my freedom, I have built a couple of small houses on the small lot, which now let for twenty-two pounds a year.”

    Douglass, W. (1862). Annals of the first African church, in the United States of America: now styled the African Episcopal church of St. Thomas, Philadelphia, in its connection with the early struggles of the colored people to improve their condition, with the co-operation of the Friends, and other philanthropists; partly derived from the minutes of a beneficial society, established by Absalom Jones, Richard Allen and others, in 1787, and partly from the minutes of the aforesaid church. Philadelphia: King & Baird, printers.
<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   Next >  Last >> 

Historical Society of the Episcopal Church

Dedicated to preserving and disseminating information about the history of the Episcopal Church and its antecedents.
A 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization established for educational, charitable and religious purposes.
(920) 383-1910 | administration@hsec.us | PO Box 1301, Appleton, WI 54912-1301 | © 2020

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software