Establishing a church

Daily Reading for February 13 • Absalom Jones, Priest, 1818

Whereas, a few of our race did in the Name and fear of God, associate for the purpose of advancing our friends in a true knowledge of God, of true religion, and of the ways and means to restore our long lost race, to the dignity of men and of christians; — and . . .

Whereas, through the various attempts we have made to promote our design, God has marked out made our ways with blessings. And we are now encouraged through the grace and divine assistance of the friends and God opening the hearts of our white friends and brethren, to encourage us to arise out of the dust and shake ourselves, and throw off that servile fear, that the habit of oppression and bondage trained us up in. And in meekness and fear we would desire to walk in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. That following peace with all men, we may have our fruit unto holiness, and in the end, everlasting life.

And in order the more fully to accomplish the good purposes of God’s will, and organize ourselves for the purpose of promoting the health the people all, but more particularly our relatives, of color. We, after many consultations, and some years deliberation thereon, have gone forward to erect a house for the glory of God, and our mutual advantage to meet in for clarification and social religious worship. And more particularly to keep an open door for those of our race, who may be into assemble with us, but would not attend divine worship in other places; and . . .

Whereas, for all the above purposes, it is needful that we enter into, and forthwith establish some orderly, christian-like government and order of former usage in the Church of Christ; and, to avoid all appearance of evil, by self-conceitedness, or an intent to promote or establish any new human device among us.

Now be it known to all the world and in all eyes thereof, that we the founders and trustees of said house did on Tuesday the twelfth day of August, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and ninety four.

Resolve and decree,

To resign and conform ourselves to the Protestant Episcopal Church of North America. —And we dedicate ourselves to God, imploring his holy protection; and our house to the memory of St. Thomas, the Apostle, to be henceforward known and called by the name and title of St. Thomas’s African Episcopal Church of Philadelphia; to be governed by us and our successors for ever as follows.

Given under our hands, this Twelfth day of August, 1794.

From “The Causes and Motives for Establishing St. Thomas’s African Church” by Absalom Jones; found at

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