St. Luke’s Episcopal Chapel will hold its annual celebration honoring the life of the Reverend Absalom Jones on Sunday, Feb. 15. The celebration will begin with the Eucharist Service at 10 a.m., followed by a luncheon at the church, 538 South Main St, Grambling.
Absalom Jones was born a slave in Sussex, Del. on Dec. 6, 1746. He learned to read as a child. At 16 he was taken to Philadelphia to work in his master’s shop where a clerk taught him to write.
His savings enabled him to buy first his wife’s and then his freedom. He became a friend of Richard Allen and together they founded the Free African Society, which served as a protective society and social organization for free blacks.
Jones and Allen were both inclined to preach and were part of St. George’s Methodist Church. Harassed by white members, they made a decision to organize blacks outside of the church and so the Free African Society grew.
Toward the end of 1790, Absalom Jones and Richard Allen were encouraged to inaugurate a separate black church. In an election the majority of members of the Free African Society voted to affiliate with the Church of England. Absalom Jones accepted the pastorate and in 1794 the African Church of St. Thomas opened.
Jones was active in the civic life of Philadelphia and in 1799 was among 75 free black men who sent a petition against the slave trade to Congress. This petition was the first official protest to Congress by blacks in America. Jones died on February 13, 1818. The Episcopal Church recognizes Absalom Jones as its first black priest. A Day of Devotion is annually set aside in February by the church to commemorate the work of Absalom Jones.
Although there is a common history shared between Black Episcopalians and African Methodist Episcopalians in the personages of Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, the guest speaker on this year’s celebration is Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, a United Methodist preacher’s kid and the seventh president of Dillard University.
Dr. Kimbrough will offer insight on the theme, “A Century of American Black Life, History, and Culture” and will help to see the role of the Church in the shaping of the this life, history and culture and what the church can do to keep the legacy of Absalom Jones and Richard Allen.
The church is thrilled to have Kimbrough, one of the youngest, energetic, visionary college presidents in the nation, as the speaker. He is known for his active use of social media to engage and stay connected with students.
Kimbrough has been described by some as a hands-on administrator who has the ability to connect with college students and challenge them to get actively involved in finding solutions to the problems that plague the Black community.
Prior to taking office at Dillard University, The Louisiana Weekly quoted him, saying “It’s not so much about a new president coming in and imposing his vision on everyone…a vision has to be collective and most people need to buy into it. I think part of being a leader is asking the right questions, so I’m going to come in and ask a lot of the right questions to help us to see where we are and then move forward.”
This time he is coming to St. Luke’s Chapel, Grambling to “ask a lot of the right questions”, so come and join the congregation, as they answer Dr. Kimbrough’s questions. You never know, you may see where you are and discover where you want to be.
For additional information, contact Grace Tatum or the vicar, the Rev. Thomas Nsubuga at 318-247-6669 (Tuesdays through Fridays).