The annual Absalom Jones Celebration will be held on February 14, 2007 at the Episcopal Divinity School at 7:00 pm. This year's lecturer is The Rev. Canon Harold T. Lewis, who will also serve as the preacher during the Absalom Jones Eucharist service on the following day, February 15th during the 8:30 am morning service. An Absalom Jones celebration is held every year at EDS to help support the Absalom Jones Scholarship Fund. Established in 1986, the fund provides scholarships for African American students attending EDS and preparing for ordination in the Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Canon Harold T. Lewis has been the rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, since 1996. Since his ordination in 1971, he has been an overseas missionary in Honduras and in Congo, and has served parishes in England, Washington, D.C., New Haven, CT, and his native Brooklyn, NY. From 1983 until 1994, he served on the staff of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church as Director of the Office of Black Ministries. A former research fellow at Cambridge University, he has also pursued graduate studies at Catholic University in Washington, the Center for International Documentation in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and St. George's College, Jerusalem. He is an honorary canon of the Diocese of Bukavu, Congo.
The Episcopal Church recognizes Absalom Jones as its first black priest. A Day of Devotion is annually set aside during the week of February 13th (Jones died on February 13, 1818) by the church to commemorate his work. He was born a house slave in Delaware in 1746. At sixteen, he was sold to a store owner in Philadelphia, but eventually he was able to buy his wife's and his own freedom. In 1787, black Christians organized the Free African Society, with Jones elected as one of two overseers. He was ordained deacon in the St. Thomas African Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Pennsylvania in 1795, and priest in 1802.
"Absalom Jones was known for his struggle for freedom and subsequent anti-slavery work, being a gentle and compassionate minister, his civic development of the African American Community, and his humanitarianism," explains Karen Montagno, Dean of Community Spiritual Formation. "This is why we continue to recognize such a key figure in the timeline of the Episcopal Church."
The lecture and Eucharist will take place in St. John's Memorial Chapel on the EDS campus located at 99 Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Each event will be followed by a reception in Washburn Lounge. Both are free and open to the public, although reservations are encouraged as seating is limited. The Chapel and Washburn Lounge are handicap accessible. For more information or to RSVP for this event, please contact our events line at 617.682.1573 or firstname.lastname@example.org.