This year, the story of who Absalom Jones was and why it matters

January 25, 2018
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The Dismantling Racism Commission organizes our annual celebration of the life and ministry of the Rev. Absalom Jones, the first African American ordained as priest in the US. And stepping outside the box this year, they've designed a morning program for children and parents or grandparents.

You'll notice an earlier start and lunch time, and the sessions are not only child focused in content but also in length.

After introductions in the nave of St. Martin's Church, Deborah Nelson Linck will offer a presentation for the children with the story of Absalom Jones, why he's important, how he let his light shine to open the church to all people. There is an activity planned and the children will make a small item during the storytelling. (Sorry, that's as much of a teaser as can give!)

Deborah, a member of Christ Church Cathedral and the diocesan Commission on Ministry, retired from 31 years of teaching kindergarten and early grades, 25 of which were in the Lindbergh School District. And for the past eleven years or so, she's been curating exhibits for the Hands-On Black History Museum, using historical artifacts that kids can touch and interact with as the stories of our history are shared.

From there you'll be able to choose two more break-out sessions (three are planned and will each repeat) before we stop for (optional) lunch at 11:30 am.

  • Commission member Courtney Schaefer and  Laura McCord,  both from Emmanuel, will lead a session on books specifically for children on black history, and stories of social justice. Laura set up Emmanuel's Thomas Bray Library of multicultural children's books  
  • The folks from EyeSeeMe, the African American Children's Bookstore in University City will be set up for perusing and purchase, as well
  • Commission member Adrienne Dillon (All Saints/Ascension) will lead a session on music, including some songs suitable for young children, from the hymnal Lift Every Voice And Sing.
  • Alexia Dukes and Christian Davis representing the young adults on the Commission, will offer a gently role play exercise, with topics such as how do we respond when we see racism on the playground
  • Deborah will also offer a break-out session bringing things that she uses to teach kids about race and black history, and she's prepared with activities and handouts. If the room is more parents and grandparents, she'll work with how we approach and teach, and if more children, she'll be working with the kids with asides to the adults. Suggested for parents, grandparents, Sunday school teachers.

How do you get kids to talk about race at a young age? Deborah said that traditionally we don't start teaching history until the fifth grade. "And there is so much that kids at a younger age can take in," she added.

When approaching a difficult subject, for example slavery, she offers some simple facts, that this existed and looking with the eyes of today it's horrendous. But also adding that through all of that adversity and hardship, the people persevered. "So many of them came out on the other side of this, and that's the miraculous thing we celebrate."


It's become a tradition that Deborah and the Hands-On Black History Museum curate an exhibit for Christ Church Cathedral in February. This year is the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglas, and a small exhibit on his life will be displayed in the cathedral nave for the month of February. You can read more about black history speakers and events at the cathedral online.


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