MORRIS COUNTY — The Church of the Redeemer in Morristown will host its 10th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. worship exchange with Bethel A.M.E. Church of Morristown on Sunday, January 19 at 10:30 a.m. On February 2, Bethel Church will host the Church of the Redeemer at their 11 a.m. service for Founder’s Day/ Absalom Jones Day. All are welcome at both services.
“At a time when white supremacy, anti-Semitism and racially motivated hatred is on the rise it’s even more important that we join together,” said the Rev. Cynthia Black, Rector of the Church of the Redeemer. “Our congregations have a relationship that has evolved over a decade and across differences—we believe that worshipping together is an important act of solidarity in divisive times.”
The first service between the two congregations took place when the Rev. Lisa Green was the Interim Rector and has evolved to include Lenten programs, picnics, river cleanups and the annual Juneteenth celebration. “Rev. Black and I came to Morristown at about the same time and were glad for the opportunity to combine time and talents. We have fun while challenging each other and deepening our faith and working on behalf of the least and lost and last in Morristown,” said Rev. Dr. Sidney Williams, Pastor of Bethel Church of Morristown.
At the Church of the Redeemer the Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend holiday begins the Season of Reconciliation, a time when the church intentionally exams its complicity in racism and racist structures. Depending on when the Founder’s Day/Absalom Jones service takes place, the season concludes with that celebration. For the A.M.E. tradition, Founder’s Day celebrates Richard Allen, one of two founders of the Free African Society in Philadelphia in 1787 who later went on to found the African Methodist Episcopal denomination. For Episcopalians, the holiday roughly coincides with the Feast of Absalom Jones, Richard Allen’s companion in the establishment of the Free African Society. Jones would go on to become the first African American ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, in 1802.
The Church of the Redeemer, located at 36 South Street, Morristown, is a Christian liberation community in the Episcopal tradition, serving the people of Morristown and beyond for more than 165 years. Sunday services are at 8:00 and 10:30 am (8:00 and 9:30 am from Father’s Day through Labor Day). As part of its practice of radical hospitality, the church provides space to Nourish.NJ (formerly known as the Community Soup Kitchen of Morristown), Freedom House—an addiction and recovery program, a number of 12 step groups, and the Empty Bowl Zendo. It founded the Eric Johnson House, a transitional housing program for those living with HIV/AIDS, that operated for 25 years from the former rectory. Click here for more information.