Prior to her departure for the primates' meeting in Tanzania, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached and celebrated before a congregation of some 650 worshipers on the transferred Feast of Absalom Jones Feb. 11 in Philadelphia at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, the parish Jones founded in 1792.The American church was slow to open its doors to African American priests. And gays. Will Anglican in Africans now shut the door on the American church?
Absalom Jones was born a house slave in 1746 in Delaware. He taught himself to read out of the New Testament, among other books, and purchased his freedom in 1784. He became the first African American priest in The Episcopal Church when he was ordained by Presiding Bishop William White in 1802.
Bishop Jefferts Schori left from New York City early Monday morning and is scheduled to arrive Tuesday afternoon in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, shortly before the start of the special session involving three other bishops from The Episcopal Church. It is expected that seating arrangements will be finalized after the special session, said Canon Jim Rosenthal, director of communications for the Anglican Consultative Council.
More irony: Wikipedia tells us Absalom Jones "founded St. Thomas African Church in Philadelphia, which petitioned to become an Episcopal parish. Jones was later ordained as the first African-American priest in the Episcopal Church." Petitioning to become an Episcopal parish. Novel concept. Good polity.
More irony. From the readings for the feast day of Absalom Jones:
Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Jesus said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father."