Sunday, June 4, at 4:00pm Music at Abington is thrilled to welcome the Gospel Choir of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas for the final event of our 2022-23 season. This St. Thomas Gospel Choir is a regional and national artistic leader consisting of 60 spirit-filled, energetic, and anointed musicians from the tri-state area highlighting one contemporary aspect of the rich history of the church with deep roots in Philadelphia. The worshipful concert will be offered for free (freewill donations will be received) with a reception for community gathering afterward.
The St. Thomas Gospel Choir is based from and represents The Historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas that was founded by the Reverend Absalom Jones in 1792 in Philadelphia, PA. This 230+ year old congregation was the first African-American congregation in Philadelphia and in the Episcopal Church, and Rev. Absalom Jones the first Episcopal priest of African descent. The congregation was founded when the Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, founders of the Free African Society in Philadelphia and renowned lay preachers in Philadelphia 1780s walked out of St. George’s Methodist when facing unequal treatment and segregated seating, they decided that their piety and their dignity demanded black worshippers at St. George’s be given the respect due all of God’s children.
St. Thomas has been in the vanguard of action to sustain the legacy of humanitarianism and community outreach passed down from its founders. St. Thomas’ clergy and parishioners have played key roles in the abolition/anti-slavery/ underground railroad movements and the early equal rights movement of the 1800’s. Over the past fifty years, St. Thomas has figured prominently in the civil rights movement. The current rector and overseer is The Reverend Canon Father Martini Shaw.
As a reflection of its long-history of artistic leadership and national prominence the music ministry of AECST includes a Chancel Choir, jazz ensemble, men’s choir, and the St. Thomas Gospel Choir, recipient of gospel and recording awards, present for local, regional, and national church and community programs including installations of the two most recent Presiding Bishops. On November 10, 1996, the church dedicated the Absalom Jones Chapel with a Festal Eucharist and enshrined his ashes in the altar. In addition, the Absalom Jones Memorial Stained Glass Window was installed and dedicated in July 1997. A stained glass window featuring Black Saints, and Black Bishops past and present was also installed in 2000.
Today, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas flourishes as an open, Christ-centered community of faith where the Gospel is taught, lived and spread. Come together on June 4 for a special outreach concert by the Gospel Choir of St. Thomas right here in Abington for an afternoon of praise!