absalomjones-414

Father Absalom Jones and historic St. Thomas’s African Episcopal Church never had an easy time of it. The Methodists they broke away from eventually donated land on which Jones could build his new church, but then repossessed it and charged them money to get their building back. Negotiations with Episcopal Bishop White were also fraught; White held most of the power to admit them to his diocese, but the St. Thomas congregation demanded a condition that Mr. Jones be licensed as a layreader and eventually ordained, so they could exert their own leadership. He spent many, many years as a deacon before White finally made him a priest. That legacy of resisting racism is what makes St. Thomas’s a vibrant and respected parish today. (Delaware Art Museum)

Absalom Jones and his friend Richard Allen led a walkout from their Philadelphia Methodist church when it tried to impose racial segregation one Sunday in 1787. They organized their own Free African Society, which became St. Thomas African Episcopal Church in 1794, on the condition that Mr. Jones be licensed as a layreader and eventually ordained by William White, the Bishop of Pennsylvania and founding father of The Episcopal Church. Jones became a deacon in 1802 and a priest in 1804. (Delaware Art Museum)

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