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Voorhees University celebrates Absalom Jones Feast Day

Denmark, S.C. – Voorhees University will host its annual Absalom Jones Feast Day celebration, on Tuesday, February 7, at 11:00 a.m. The Reverend Dr. Mark Jefferson, assistant professor of homiletics at Virginia Theological Seminary, will serve as the keynote speaker. An emerging scholar and theologian, Jefferson’s oratorical skills have earned him membership in the prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College. 

The Episcopal Church has partnered with Voorhees in recognizing the legacy of Rev. Jones since their affiliation in 1924. This year, the program will feature the Right Reverend Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, as the Celebrant for the occasion. Woodliff-Stanley is the fifteenth bishop of the historic diocese, and the first woman to serve in the role as the bishop of Diocese of South Carolina. 

Jones was born into slavery in Sussex County, Delaware in 1746. At the of sixteen, he was sold along with his mother and sister to a farmer. The three were later separated, when their owner sold his mother and sister. Absalom, who was kept moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he became a merchant.

While enslaved he learned to read and write. Pennsylvania abolished slavery and became a free state in the U.S. allowing Jones to later become a Lay Minister of the interracial congregation of Saint George Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. Jones became one of the first African Americans licensed to preach by the Methodist Episcopal church. Because of his admiration for bridging a gap between racial discrimination, he became the first African Priest in the Episcopal church.

On January 1, 1808, he delivered one of his anti-slavery sermons, “A Thanksgiving Sermon,” that became famous and published in pamphlet form. After becoming the first black and freed man to be ordained, his oratory skills deemed him to be a pioneer and dominate leader of the world.

For more information about Jones, see: https://episcopalarchives.org/church-awakens/exhibits/show/leadership/clergy/jones

About Voorhees University

Voorhees University, founded by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright in 1897, is a private, coeducational institution affiliated with the Episcopal Church and the United Negro College Fund. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Its mission is to produce highly qualified graduates who coalesce intellect and faith in pursuit of life-long learning, healthy living, the betterment of society, and an abiding faith in God. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Voorhees as a #1 best value, #3 in social mobility and #33 among regional colleges in the south in 2022-2023; and #26 among Historically Black Colleges and Universities, nationally. Additional information about Voorhees University can be found at www.voorhees.edu.


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