(PRWEB) February 27, 2005
The esteemed African American Episcopal Historical Collection was formally dedicated on Thursday, February 24, 2005, in a ceremony at Virginia Theological Seminary. The Very Rev. Martha J. Horne, dean and president of Virginia Seminary, and Dr. Thaddeus W. Tate, Jr., president of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, opened the Dedication by welcoming guests who had traveled from places as far away as Chicago to participate in the days events.
The keynote speaker for the Dedication was the Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr., Bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, who wove the history of the Black Episcopalian into his own story, addressing the pointed question that former Black Panther leader, Malcolm X, once asked of him, ÂWhat is a black man doing in the Episcopal Church?Â In a response that took Thompson years to formulate, he told the audience, ÂI find myself telling Malcolm X that the experience of Moses and the burning bush with God was an African experienceÂ that the typical Anglican is a 35-year-old black woman in KenyaÂ and, by the way, have you heard of a man named Desmond Tutu, a black Anglican like me, who helped liberate the largest country in southern Africa?Â
Preaching at an evening service in the Seminary Chapel in thanksgiving for the ministry of African American Episcopalians, was the Rev. Canon Angela Ifill (VTS Â95), Missioner for Black Ministries for the national Episcopal Church.
The Dedication marked one of the many ways in which Virginia Seminary continues to foster increased understanding of issues related to race and ethnicity and the elimination of the plague of racism.
The African American Episcopal Historical Collection (AAEHC) is a cooperative effort of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church and the Bishop Payne Library of the Virginia Theological Seminary. The AAEHC solicits, preserves, and makes available for research and public education unique documentary evidence of the African American experience in the Episcopal Church of the United States and its colonial antecedents.
Virginia Theological Seminary, which is the second oldest and the largest of the 11 Episcopal seminaries in the United States, has had a long standing interest in ministry by and among African Americans. From 1878-1949 the Bishop Payne Divinity School, in Petersburg, Virginia was the primary institution for the education of African American candidates for the Episcopal ministry. Bishop Payne Divinity School merged with Virginia Theological Seminary in 1953. The seminaryÂs library was later named in honor and in memory of the former divinity school.
More information about the collection, along with an 87-page research guide entitled, Prominent African American Episcopalians and Their Experiences in the Episcopal Church, 1746 Â 2003: A Guide to African American Historical Resources in the Bishop Payne Library, Virginia Theological Seminary, can be found on the SeminaryÂs web site at www.vts.edu.