St. Thomas African Episcopal Church
Backstory and Context
Absalom Jones, along with other black Methodists, formed the congregation after white leaders and members of St. George’s Methodist Church refused to end formal and informal discrimination. The black members of the church even performed an act of civil disobedience prior to forming their own church by staging a large walk-out during services. Jones proposed the independent church and took the lead.
Jones was born into slavery but was able to perform additional labor and purchase his freedom, a practice that was allowed but uncommon in the North and a few other parts of the United States in the 18th century. Jones and his life-long friend Richard Allen became leaders among the black members of St. George's Episcopal Church. The pair also helped the community during a devastating yellow fever epidemic and presented petitions calling for the abolition of slavery.
Absalom was appointed the First Worshipful Master and the First Grand Master of the First African Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. The Second Great Awakening influenced Allen and Jones to create their own church. The congregation's first building was at Fifth and Adelphi Street.
2. Hine, Darlene Clark, et al. The African-American Odyssey. Pearson, 2018.