Public Affairs

January 6, 2021

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry invites Episcopalians to deepen their participation in Christ’s ministry of reconciliation by dedicating offerings at observances of the Feast of Absalom Jones (February 13) and making individual donations to support St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC, and Voorhees College in Denmark, SC, two historically black Episcopal institutions of higher education.

St. Augustine’s and Voorhees provide a liberal arts education to thousands of students, the vast majority of whom come from low-income households, and over 40% of whom are the first in their families to attend a four-year college. These schools also provide robust campus ministries which both evangelize and form young adults as followers of Jesus and his way of love.

“In light of The Episcopal Church’s renewed covenant and continuing commitment to the work of racial justice and reconciliation I hope you will join me in supporting the Absalom Jones Fund this year,” Bishop Curry said.

The two schools were founded in the later 19th century to provide educational opportunities to formerly enslaved persons. “These schools bring educational, economic, and social opportunity to often resource-poor communities, and they offer many blessings into the life of The Episcopal Church,” Curry said.

Donations to the HBCUs will help support scholarships and financial aid for students in need as well as funding for quality facilities, faculty recruitment and retention, and the development of religious life on campus.

“HBCUs create dynamic and empowering educational environments for college students from diverse backgrounds.  Now more than ever these institutions need your support,” the Presiding Bishop noted.

HBCUs with Episcopal roots

Once there were 10 Episcopal HBCUs; however, St. Augustine’s and Voorhees are the only two remaining.

Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) was founded in 1867 by the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina and is located in Raleigh, NC.  The mission of Saint Augustine’s University is to sustain a learning community in which students can prepare academically, socially and spiritually for leadership in a complex, diverse and rapidly changing world.  Over 1,000 students pursue Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees at SAU, while adult learners engage in advanced studies in Criminal Justice, Organizational Management, and Religious Studies. 

Voorhees College is a private historically black four-year liberal arts college located in Denmark, SC. Voorhees was founded as the Denmark Industrial School by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, a young black woman, in 1897.  Voorhees students today combine intellect and faith as they prepare for professional careers. They learn to thrive in a diverse global society while pursuing life-long learning, healthy living and an abiding faith in God. They aim to improve their communities, society and themselves.

To give:

To give today to the Absalom Jones Fund for HBCUs, click here or text GIVEHBCU to 41444 (standard messaging and data rates apply).

For more information, or if your parish or diocese would like to dedicate a collection to the Absalom Jones Offering, contact Cecilia Malm, senior development officer, cmalm@epsicopalchurch.org, 212-716-6062

Absalom Jones

Absalom Jones is commemorated in The Episcopal Church on February 13. Jones was an African American abolitionist and clergyman and the first African American ordained a priest in The Episcopal Church.  Absalom Jones was born enslaved to Abraham Wynkoop in 1746 in Delaware. Jones moved to Philadelphia after his master sold his plantation along with Absalom’s mother and six siblings. Jones bought his wife Mary’s freedom and later his master granted Absalom’s emancipation in 1784.

In 1787, with his friend Richard Allen, they founded the Free African Society, a mutual aid benevolent organization that was the first of its kind organized by and for black people. Bishop William White ordained Jones a deacon in 1795 and a priest on September 21, 1802. Jones faithfully served the people at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, a church which remains a vibrant congregation.  A corrected and updated biography of Absalom Jones is now available through the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church’s web site: https://hsec.us/news/9398482

Bulletin inserts are available here.

CONTACT:
Nancy Cox Davidge
Public Affairs Officer