African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Philadelphia, PA
The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas was an outgrowth of the African Church of Philadelphia founded in 1792 by the Free African Society, a mutual aid organization, established in 1787 by Absalom Jones and Richard Allen for the purpose of encouraging religion, literacy, and providing destitute members – especially widows and orphans – with financial assistance. Absalom Jones led the congregation and became the first African American admitted to Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church when Bishop William White ordained him a deacon in 1796 and a priest in 1802. Richard Allen formed Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church which became a separate Methodist denomination. Records consist of vestry minutes, pew rents, birth and baptismal records as well as some records of the Free African Society.