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Absalom Jones Service

Join us as we host a service commemorating Absalom Jones, the first black Episcopal priest.

The preacher at the service will be Rev. Rodney Francis, senior director at EmployIndy and an ordained pastor in the Baptist tradition. At EmployIndy, Francis develops workforce services for Indianapolis youth with a particular focus on youth who have multiple barriers to employment. He previously served as executive director of a neighborhood settlement house in St. Louis, where, during the 2014 Ferguson protests, he worked with young adults to help the community chart a path toward healing.

The Episcopal Church’s annual Feast of Absalom Jones commemorates a man who was born into slavery in 1746 in Delaware and worked for eight years to buy his wife’s freedom so that their children would be free. His master refused to allow him to purchase his own freedom, but in 1784 granted him a manumission. A gifted lay preacher, Jones led the founding of the Free African Society, a mutual aid benevolent organization in Philadelphia that became the first black Episcopal church in the United States. He was also a lay leader at a white-led church in Philadelphia until the church’s leaders forced segregation during worship. He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1804.