Absalom Jones Initiative
In this New Year, I invite all Episcopalians to deepen our participation in Christ’s ministry of reconciliation by dedicating offerings on the Feast of Absalom Jones to the support of the two remaining Episcopal Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC, and Voorhees College in Denmark, SC.
These schools were founded in the late 19th century as a missionary venture. Today, HBCUs remain important black institutions in American life. Approximately half of all black college graduates – and more than half of all black professionals and public school teachers – attended HBCUs. A large proportion of students are the first in their families to pursue college. 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.
Unfortunately, while there were once 10 such Episcopal colleges, today Voorhees and St. Augustine’s stand alone. The Episcopal Church’s partnership with both schools is more critical now than ever. We are responding in many ways:
- The church’s Executive Council formed a committee comprised of church leaders, educators, and business people, to expand the relationship and support with the two schools;
- The churchwide budget provides block grants to both schools;
- As part of our Becoming Beloved Community vision for racial healing, reconciliation and justice, the churchwide budget also now supports a consultant who works directly with the two college presidents. Members of the Development Office and Racial Reconciliation team also partner with school leadership to expand fundraising efforts and develop programming that more effectively responds to student and community needs.
The Episcopal Church established an enduring covenant with these schools. They are an essential part of the fabric of our shared life.
As we approach the February remembrance of the Blessed Absalom Jones, the first African-American priest in the Episcopal Church, we have a unique opportunity to celebrate his memory and to honor the witness of two schools that continue to form new leaders.
In the New Year, the churchwide staff will distribute contribution instructions, bulletin inserts and additional resources to encourage this effort. This letter serves as an early invitation and alert to you, my partners in leadership. For more information, please contact Ms. Tara Holley, 212-716-6041.
May God bless and keep you in His arms of love always,
The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry
Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church