[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached Feb. 12 at a celebration of Absalom Jones in New York’s Harlem.
The service, at which New York Bishop Andrew Dietsche presided, was held at St. Philip’s Church on the day before the Feb. 13 feast day for Jones, who was the first Black Episcopal priest.
Born a slave in Delaware in 1746, Jones taught himself to read, purchased the freedom of his wife, Mary, and later purchased his own freedom. He became a lay minister at a Methodist Episcopal Church, where he helped establish the Free African Society to aid in emancipating slaves and caring for those in need. Refusing to worship in a segregated church building, Jones established his own church, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia. At 56, he became the first Black Episcopal priest.