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  • Writer's pictureDiocese of WNC

Celebrating the Feast of Absalom Jones

In collaboration with St. Matthias Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina will hold a celebration for the Feast of Absalom Jones 11 a.m. Feb. 3 at St. Matthias Church in Asheville.


The Rt. Rev. Bishop José A. McLoughlin will be the celebrant and will be assisted by the rector of St. Matthias, the Rev. Francis King, and Archdeacon the Rev. Brenda Gilbert. The speaker will be Mark Andrew Jefferson, Ph.D. This program is part of the diocese’s mission to build beloved community in Western North Carolina.


Dr. Jefferson’s preaching, scholarship, and engagement with popular culture outline his commitment to be a public theologian. The critical engagement of the American social imagination and African American socio-political enfranchisement and empowerment are areas of concentration for Dr. Jefferson’s life and work.


Blessed Absalom Jones founded the Free African Society with his friend, Richard Allen, in 1787. The mutual aid benevolent organization was the first of its kind organized by and for black people. Bishop William White ordained Jones as a deacon in 1795 and a priest on September 21, 1802. Jones faithfully served the people at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, a church that remains a vibrant congregation.


Jones was born enslaved to Abraham Wynkoop in 1746 in Delaware and was emancipated in 1784. Jones moved to Philadelphia after Wynkoop sold his plantation, along with Absalom’s mother and six siblings. Jones bought his wife Mary’s freedom, and Wynkoop later granted Absalom’s emancipation.


The collect for the Feast Day of Absalom Jones reads: Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


About Mark Andrew Jefferson:

Dr. Jefferson is Principle of Maleko Global Partners, LLC. He has over 15 years of experience in academia, churches, and non-profits, focusing on the intersection of organizational leadership and preaching. Prior to founding Maleko, Jefferson taught at Virginia Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. 


Jefferson served at the Director of Christian Education and Formation at the 10,000-member House of Hope Atlanta (The Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church), in Decatur, Georgia. While at House of Hope, Jefferson was responsible for the formation of the clergy and leaders, designing and implementing comprehensive education and service opportunities for the congregation, and reimagining youth and young adult ministry. Jefferson has also served as an associate minister at Alfred Street Baptist Church, Alexandria, Virginia and Friendship Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia. 


Jefferson is an internationally respected preacher and public theologian. Jefferson was a guest of the family of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu to preach at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa. He has preached internationally also in Israel and Jamaica. Domestically, Jefferson has preached places such as the Washington National Cathedral; Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia; Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, Texas; Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; All Saints Episcopal Church, Beverly Hills, California; Alfred Street Baptist Church, Alexandria, Virginia; St. Michael’s and All Angels, Dallas, Texas; St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Honolulu, Hawaii; among many others. Jefferson speaks at schools, organizations, and places of incarceration. Jefferson was a featured panelist for the God Talk: A Black Millennials and Faith Conversation at the Something in the Water Music Festival. 


Jefferson holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Religion focusing on Homiletics from Emory University, during his doctoral work, he received the W.E.B. Du Bois Award for Academic Excellence. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where he concentrated his coursework in homiletics, completed a certificate in Black Church Studies, and served as President of the Black Student Caucus. He majored in Political Science and concentrated in Public Administration at Norfolk State University (NSU) in Norfolk, Virginia. 


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