Remembering Absalom Jones

One of the priorities of the family I grew up in is education. This is a priority that Staci and I carried on for our family. The manifestation of this priority for us was investing a significant amount of our resources towards education. Preschool through college, as our parents before us, we committed our time and our dollars to ensure that our children had a quality education.

I know that we are not only fortunate for the educational experiences that we have had and exposed our children to, but frankly, we have been extremely privileged. We have had incredible opportunities and quality educational experiences in both public and private school settings. That is not the case for a significant number of individuals across the country and certainly here in Minnesota. Consistently, we hear how Minnesota continues to lag behind in the opportunity gap (click here for more information). Also, consistently, this gap is fueled by race and economics.

All Our Children National Network, established in 2007 as a partnership between The Episcopal Church in New York and Trinity Episcopal Church in Wall Street, describes it’s mission as being, “to build the movement for education justice by supporting congregations and their members who are exploring, forming, and leading community partnerships with public schools. We believe that partnering with public schools is an urgent mission for people of faith. We know partnerships between congregations and schools are an effective path to address racism and economic inequity; to serve communities; and to revitalize congregations. We are leading the Episcopal Church’s participation in a movement to improve the quality of public education.”

At the core of our Baptismal Covenant is our call to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Education equity is a justice issue. Education equity is a respect issue. Access to quality education should not be based on economics, ethnicity, or zip code.

On February 13th The Episcopal Church celebrates the Feast of Absalom Jones. Jones, born into slavery, was the first African American priest ordained in the Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Curry recently wrote to the Church, saying, “As we approach February, the 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,” Presiding Bishop Curry said. “In honor of Jones’ commitment to advancing the education of African Americans and promoting the development of African American leaders in all areas of life, the Episcopal Church is delighted to designate Saint Augustine’s University and Voorhees College as the beneficiaries of the 2018 Feast of Absalom Jones offerings.” Click here to find more.

My hope is that we will be moved to work towards education equity in our own context and beyond as we have been invited by the Presiding Bishop.

The Collect for Absalom Jones from the Book of Common Prayer:

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.

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