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About this commemoration
Born March 3, 1819, in New York City, Alexander Crummell struggled against racism all his life. As a young man, he was driven out of an academy in New Hampshire, dismissed as a candidate for Holy Orders in New York, and rejected for admittance to General Seminary.
Ordained in 1844 as a priest in the Diocese of Massachusetts, he left for England after being excluded from participating in diocesan convention.
After receiving a degree from Cambridge, he went to Liberia as a missionary. The African race, Crummell believed, possessed a “warm, emotional and impulsive energy,” which in America had been corrupted by oppression. The Episcopal Church, with its emphasis on rational and moral discipline, was especially fitted for the moral and spiritual regeneration of Afro-Americans. A model Christian republic seemed possible in Liberia. European education and technology, combined with traditional African communal culture, and undergirded by a national Episcopal Church headed by a black bishop, was the vision espoused by Crummell. He traveled extensively in the United States urging blacks to immigrate to Liberia and support the work of the Church there.
On returning to Liberia, he worked to establish a national Episcopal Church. Political opposition and a loss of funding finally forced him to return to the United States. He concentrated his efforts on establishing a strong urban presence of independent black congregations that would be centers of worship, education and social service. When southern bishops proposed that a separate missionary district be created for black congregations, Crummell created a national convocation to fight the proposal. The Union of Black Episcopalians is an outgrowth of that organization.
Crummell’s ministry spanned more than half a century and three continents. Everywhere, at all times, he labored to prepare his people and to build institutions that would serve them and provide scope for the exercises of their gifts in leadership and creativity. His faith in God, his perseverance in spite of repeated discouragement, his perception that the Church transcended the racism and limited vision of its rulers, and his unfailing belief in the goodness and greatness of black people are the legacy of this Afro-American pioneer.
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Alexander Crummell, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to those who were far off and to those who were near. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land evangelists and heralds of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
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.
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:7–11, 17–18
Mark 4:1–10, 13–20
Preface of a Saint (2)
Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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