In recent weeks I've been discussing the Communion of the Saints on various blogs and discussion forums, and bemoaning the way that we in the ELCA and elsewhere outside Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy neglect remembering our sisters and brothers in faith who have gone before us into glory, whose lives set an example for us to follow. In the interest of putting my blog where my mouth is, because I think it's important, I am going to spotlight, now and then, some of the people of faith recognized in our lesser festivals and commemorations.
Jehu Jones, whose commemoration day is tomorrow, was the first African-American pastor ordained in America, in 1832. The idea was to have him accompany freed slaves to Liberia as a missionary -- at the time repatriation of African-Americans was considered an enlightened solution to the "color" issue in this country -- but when he couldn't find support for his mission, Jones instead began an African-American Lutheran congregation in Philadelphia, and eventually in other communities as well, serving thousands of parishoners. He was also active in civil rights causes and community work. Despite often being treated downright despicably by Lutheran church officials and suffering numerous setbacks in his work, Jones remained loyal to his Lutheran theological roots, and lived in the hope that one day the transformative power of the Gospel would effect racial harmony. You can read more about Jones by clicking on the link above.
God of grace and might, we praise you for your servant Jehu, to whom you gave gifts to make the good news known. Raise up, we pray, in every country and in every community within our society, heralds and evangelists of your reign, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.