For Black History month, I started compiling a list of African-American saints recognized by the Episcopal Church, some already in our official calendar of saints listed in Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints, and some proposed (names in brackets).

Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints is the result of Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s request to review the church’s calendar of saints.

Episcopal saints are identified when delegates to General Convention propose a saint, educate folks, and then the Convention needs to ratify the nomination in two successive meetings. General Convention meets every three years.

As a side note, I don’t know why Ida B. Wells, journalist and fierce exposer of the evils of lynching, or Mary McLeod Bethune, equally fierce educator and advocate of youth, aren’t included, but this is a start.

Note, too, that there is a “50 year rule post death” that keeps Pauli Murray (and others) from being included yet.  The years after their names are the years they died. If you want to know more, there’s a brief biography of each saint and scriptures appointed for worship to commemorate their life, usually on the anniversary of their death.

In the words of the Bishop, “Holy Women, Holy Men”…

“…seeks to expand the worshiping community’s awareness of the communion of saints, and to give increased expression to the many and diverse ways in which Christ, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, has been present in the lives of men and women across the ages, just as Christ continues to be present in our own day.”

Saints in the United States

Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright,  Educators, 1964, 1904, February 28

Eternal God, you inspired Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and Elizabeth Evelyn Wright with the love of learning and the joy of teaching: Help us also to gather and use the resources of our communities for the education of all your children; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


[George Freeman Bragg, Jr.] Priest, 1940, August 3  

Almighty God, we thank you for the strength and courage of George Freeman Bragg, who rose from slavery to freedom, documented African-American history, and helped to found the first advocacy group for black people. Grant that we may tell the story of your wondrous works in ways that proclaim your justice in our own time, to the glory of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


[Edward Thomas Demby and Henry Beard Delany] Bishops, 1957, 1928 April 14

Loving God, we thank you for the ministries of Edward Thomas Demby and Henry Beard Delany, bishops of
your Church who, though limited by segregation, served faithfully to your honor and glory. Assist us, we pray, to break through the limitations of our own time, that we may minister in obedience to Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 


[Harry Thacker Burleigh] Composer, 1949 Sept. 11

God our strong deliverer, we bless your Name for the gifts of grace given to Harry Thacker Burleigh to gather and preserve the good heritage of African-American music and to lift up in song the struggles of his people. Let that Spirit of love which spurred him draw us also to join hands throughout the earth in Christ’s one great fellowship of love; through the same Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 


James Theodore Holly Bishop of Haiti, and of the Dominican Republic, 1911, March 13 or Nov. 8  

Most gracious God, by the calling of your servant James Theodore Holly thou gave us our first bishop of African American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led your people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom you call from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 


Absalom Jones Priest, 1818 Feb. 13

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. 


Frances Joseph Gaudet Educator and Prison Reformer, 1934 Dec. 30

Merciful God, who raised up your servant Frances Joseph Gaudet to work for prison reform and the education of her people: Grant that we, encouraged by the example of her life, may work for those who are denied the fullness of life by reasons of incarceration and lack of access to education; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


Sojourner Truth and Harriet Ross Tubman, Liberators and Prophets, 1883, 1913, July 20  (Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Amelia Bloomer share this date too)

O God, whose Spirit guides us into all truth and makes us free: Strengthen and sustain us as you did your servants Elizabeth, Amelia, Sojourner, and Harriet. Give us vision and courage to stand against oppression and injustice and all that works against the glorious liberty to which you call all your children; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


[Maria Stewart] Prophetic Witnesses, 1879 Dec. 17 (shared with William Lloyd Garrison)

God, in whose service alone is perfect freedom: We thank you for your prophets William Lloyd Garrison and Maria Stewart, who testified that we are made not by the color of our skin but by the principle formed in our soul. Fill us, like them, with the hope and determination to break every chain of enslavement, that bondage and ignorance may melt like wax before flames, and we may build that community of justice and love which is founded on Jesus Christ our cornerstone; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 


[Thurgood Marshall] Lawyer and jurist, 1993 May 17

Eternal and ever-gracious God, you blessed your servant Thurgood with exceptional grace and courage to discern and speak the truth: Grant that, following his example, we may know you and recognize that we are all your children, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, who teaches us to love one another; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


[Richard Allen] First Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1831  March 26

Loving God, your servant Richard Allen was born a slave, but in you he learned that he was your beloved child by adoption in Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit was led to proclaim liberty to his captive people: Give us strength to proclaim your freedom to the captives of our world; through Jesus Christ, Savior of all, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


[James Weldon Johnson] Poet, 1938 June 25

Eternal God, we give thanks for the gifts that you gave your servant James Weldon Johnson: a heart and voice to praise your Name in verse. As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from your creation, in the Name of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


Alexander Crummell , priest and missionary 1898  September 10

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Alexander Crummell, whom you called to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 


[William Edward Burghardt DuBois] Sociologist, 1963 August 3

Gracious God, we thank you for the witness of William Edward Burghardt DuBois, passionate prophet of civil rights, whose scholarship advanced the dignity of the
souls of black folk; and we pray that we, like him, may use our gifts to do justice in the Name of Jesus Christ our Liberator and Advocate; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God for ever and ever. Amen. 


[Frederick Douglass] Prophetic Witness, 1895 Feb. 20

Almighty God, whose truth makes us free: We bless
your Name for the witness of Frederick Douglass, whose impassioned and reasonable speech moved the hearts of a president and a people to a deeper obedience to Christ. Strengthen us also to be outspoken on behalf of those in captivity and tribulation, continuing in the Word of Jesus Christ our Liberator; who with you and the Holy Spirit dwells in glory everlasting. Amen. 


Saints Around the World

[Samuel Ajayi Crowther] Bishop in the Niger Territories, 1891 Dec. 31

Almighty God, you rescued Samuel Ajayi Crowther from slavery, sent him to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ to his people in Nigeria, and made him the first bishop from the people of West Africa: Grant that those who follow in his steps may reap what he has sown and find abundant help for the harvest; through him who took upon himself the form of a slave that we might be free, the same Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


The Martyrs of Uganda 1886 June 3

 O God, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before you the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience, even to death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


Bernard Mizeki Catechist and Martyr in Mashonaland, 1896 June 18

Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Bernard Mizeki: Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


[Albert John Luthuli] Prophetic Witness in South Africa, 1967 July 21

ii  Eternal God, we thank you for the witness of Chief Luthuli, Nobel Laureate for Peace, who was sustained by his Christian faith as he led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Strengthen us, after his example, to make no peace with oppression and to witness boldly for our Deliverer, Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


[Samuel Ferguson] Missionary Bishop for West Africa, 1916 Aug. 2

Almighty God, we bless you for moving your servant Samuel Ferguson to minister in Liberia, expanding the missionary vision of your Church in education and ministry. Stir up in us a zeal for your mission and a yearning for your holy Word; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


May 16 [The Martyrs of the Sudan] ca 1980-2000

O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 


 

– Rev. Allison Moore