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Wednesdays with the Saints Evening Prayer
March 13 @ 5:15 PM - 5:45 PM
Wednesdays with the Saints
Evening Prayer Service
Daily prayers are said at Saint James on a regular schedule, and we invite you to join us each week as we remember some of the people who helped shape the church throughout the centuries.
This week we celebrate the life of James Theodore Augustus Holly who was born a free African American in Washington, D.C., on October 3, 1829. Baptized and confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church, he later became an Episcopalian. Holly was ordained deacon at St. Matthew’s Church in Detroit, on June 17,1855, and ordained a priest by the bishop of Connecticut on January 2, 1856.
He was appointed rector of St. Luke’s, New Haven. In the same year he founded the Protestant Episcopal Society for Promoting the Extension of the Church among Colored People, an antecedent of the Union of Black Episcopalians. He became a friend of Frederick Douglass, and the two men worked together on many programs.
In 1861, Holly resigned as rector of St. Luke’s to lead a group of African Americans settling in Haiti. Although his wife, his mother, and two of his children died during the first year, along with other settlers, Holly stayed on with two small sons, proclaiming that just “as the last surviving apostle of Jesus was in tribulation … on the forlorn isle of Patmos, so, by His Divine Providence, [Christ] had brought this tribulation upon me for a similar end in this isle in the Caribbean sea.”
He welcomed the opportunity to speak of God’s love to a people who needed to hear it. On November 8, 1874, James Theodore Holly was ordained the first bishop of Haiti at Grace Church, New York City. This made him the first Black man to be raised to the office of bishop in the Episcopal Church, and only the second Black bishop of any major denomination.
In 1878, Bishop Holly attended the Lambeth Conference, the first Black to do so, and he preached at Westminster Abbey on St. James’ Day of that year. In the course of his ministry, he doubled the size of his diocese, and established medical clinics where none had been before.
Bishop Holly served the Diocese of Haiti until his death on March 13, 1911. He had charge of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic as well, from 1897 until he died. He is buried on the grounds of St. Vincent’s School for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince.
[Excerpted from Holy Men Holy Women: Celebrating the Saints, published by Church Publishing Co.]