This week in Christian history: Bill Hybels resigns, Dietrich Bonhoeffer executed

Black church leaders found Free African Society – April 12, 1787

Absalom Jones (1746-1818), the first African American to be ordained a priest in The Episcopal Church.
Absalom Jones (1746-1818), the first African American to be ordained a priest in The Episcopal Church. | Public Domain

This week marks the anniversary of when Absalom Jones, the first African American ordained in The Episcopal Church, and Richard Allen, the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, launched the Free African Society.

The philanthropic organization was based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and centered on providing for the local black population's various economic and spiritual needs.

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"The following month they adopted articles for their society. Dues were one shilling a month. Assistance would be given to needy members as long as their plight was not owing to 'their own imprudence,'" explained the Christian History Institute.

"No drunkard was allowed membership. Anyone who failed to pay dues for three months was ousted. Failure to attend meetings incurred a fine. Benefits were for sick members, widows, and children. The organization held religious services."

In 1793, during an epidemic of yellow fever that struck Philadelphia, members of the FAS took part in relief efforts that benefited blacks and whites alike.     

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