Reverend Canon Thomas Wilson Stearly Logan Sr. was the oldest serving African-American priest in the Episcopal Church, USA.
Father Logan died May 2, 2012. He was 100.
He was born in Philadelphia on March 19, 1912. The son of a minister and a teacher, Logan was one of eight siblings to graduate from college. Education and achievement were very important in the Logan family.
After graduating from Central High School for Boys, he attended Johnson C. Smith University and later graduated from Lincoln University in 1935 with a bachelor’s degree. Three years later, he earned a bachelor of sacred theology from General Theological Seminary in New York City, and in 1941 received a master of scared theology from Philadelphia Divinity School (now Episcopal School). Over the years, Logan also received five honorary doctorates from Lincoln University, Hampton University and St. Augustine’s College.
In 1938, he married Hermione Hill at St. Simon of Cyrenian Church in South Philadelphia. The ceremony was officiated by his father, Rev. John R. Logan Sr., and his brother, Rev. John R. Logan Jr.
From this union one son was born, Rev. Father Thomas W.S. Logan Jr., who died in 2011.
“They are certainly the couple of longevity,” Michael Nutter said as he reflected on the Logans during a birthday celebration held for Hermione Hill Logan in March 2011 at City Council chambers.
“Father Logan is the oldest African-American priest in the country. His service has been quite incredible and Mrs. Logan has been with him every step along the way. They really are quite an incomparable pair, but their service to the community, to the nation, and I would suggest to the world, has really been something to admire. Any one of us should hope to do so much, and live so long.”
Logan devoted more than 73 years of his life to the Episcopal Church. He spent his dedicated ministry serving on commissions and community groups as well as in parochial leadership. He was ordained as a deacon in June 1938 in the Diocese of Pennsylvania at Holy Apostles Church. The following year, he advanced to the priesthood at St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia. He served as curate at St. Phillips Church in New York City from 1938 to 1939; vicar at St. Augustine’s Chapel in Yonkers from 1938 to 1939; and vicar and rector at St. Michael’s and All Angels Church in Philadelphia from 1940 to 1945. At St. Michael’s, Logan worked successfully to eliminate the church’s debt during his first 12 months there. As its first rector, Logan helped quadruple the church’s membership in less than five years.
In 1945, Logan helped merge Calvary Monumental Church with St. Michael’s Church, creating one of Philadelphia’s first interracial congregations. He was elevated to rector at Calvary Church Northern Liberties in Philadelphia, where he served until his retirement in 1984, when he was bestowed the title of rector emeritus at Calvary Church.
He also served as interim priest for five Philadelphia parishes, associate priest at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, and chaplain of Philadelphia’s Presbyterian and Misericordia
hospitals and the Philadelphia Police Department.
Logan has also served the church in a number of other leadership roles, including delegate to the Anglican Conference in Cape Town, South Africa; member of the Restitution Fund Commission; past president of the Homeless Fund; member of the Diocesan Council; a founder of the National Conference of Black Episcopalians; past president of the National Workers Conference USA; member of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew and life member of the Union of Black Episcopalians.
Logan has been a visionary leader in various fraternal and civic organizations locally and nationally. He is a past Most Worshipful Grandmaster of the Prince Hall Masonry of Pennsylvania; Imperial Chaplain of the Shrine of North America; former president of the Hampton University Ministries Conference; Exalted Ruler of the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World and international chaplain, Frontiers International.
He was a member of Sigma Pi Phi (Boule.) He was also celebrated as the longest serving and oldest living member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., becoming a member in 1933.
His extraordinary contributions to the City of Philadelphia and region go far beyond that of a parish rector. He is past president of the Tribune and Rafters’ Charities and was one of the founders of the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
Committed to equity, opportunity and active in the local and national work for social and economic justice, Logan was a life member of the NAACP, and former board member of branches in Philadelphia and Darby, Pa. In the early 1960s, he was active with the National Baptist Convention and collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr. in organizational and fundraising efforts in Philadelphia to support civil rights strategies.
Logan’s service to humanity and community leadership has been recognized by countless awards and citations from church, education, fraternal and community organizations nationwide.
His family said he has served God, church and community with conviction, valor, dignity, unwavering faith and unparalleled commitment.
He is survived by his wife, Hermione Hill Logan; brother, Leonard Logan; sister, Phyllis Logan Simms; grandchildren, Lisa Logan Leach, Thomas W.S. Logan III, Jina Simmons, Kaia Jacobi and Sherry Logan; great-grandchildren, Lionel Anthony Leach III, Angel Fowlkes, Zoey Simmons, Naiomi Fowlkes; daughters-in-law, Brenda Moore Logan and Karol Logan; and other relatives and friends.
The first viewing will be held May 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, 6361 Lancaster Avenue. The second viewing will be held May 12 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 3723 Chestnut Street. Mass will follow at 11. Burial will be in Eden Cemetery, Collingdale, Pa.
Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.