Blessed Absalom Jones offering will assist Episcopal historically black colleges and universities

Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs
Posted Jan 6, 2020

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 to support the two remaining Episcopal Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCUs): St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC, and Voorhees College in Denmark, SC.

St. Augustine’s and Voorhees provide an excellent 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.

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are essential institutions that help prepare people from diverse backgrounds for success in an array of vital professions,” Presiding Bishop Curry said.  “As we approach the celebration of Blessed Absalom Jones, the first African-American priest in The Episcopal Church, it is fitting that we honor his memory by lending our support to two schools that continue to form new African-American leaders.  The Episcopal Church is delighted to designate Saint Augustine’s University and Voorhees College as the beneficiaries of the 2020 Feast of Absalom Jones offerings.”

The two institutions of higher education 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.

“The Episcopal Church established and made a life-long covenant with these schools, and they are an essential part of the fabric of our shared life,” 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 750 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, development officer,, 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.

Bulletin inserts are available here.