Jones, Absalom (1746–1818), early African-American religious leader. He founded the St. Thomas African Episcopal Church (1794), the first black Episcopal church in the United States, and became the first black Episcopal priest (ordained 1804). Born a slave, Jones bought his freedom in 1784. Three years later, while serving as a lay preacher at a predominantly European-American church in Philadelphia, Jones and Richard Allen founded the Free African Society. They led a walkout by black congregation members, protesting segregated seating policies. The St. Thomas African Episcopal Church was formed when the Free African Society split in two.
See also: Allen, Richard.