The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas has certainly made a huge impact over the years. St. Thomas is the first African-American Episcopal Church in the country. The church was founded in 1792 by people of African descent to bolster personal and religious freedoms along with self-determination.
The church grew out of the Free African Society — an organization started in 1787 by Absalom Jones, Richard Allen and other individuals to help the Black population in Philadelphia. The Rev. Absalom Jones became the first African-American Episcopal priest and the first rector of St. Thomas. The church embraces the values of Jones, that includes leadership, morality, spirituality, equal rights, education, humanitarianism and other interests to the members.
These qualities have been the hallmark of the church’s success and longevity. The Rev. Martini Shaw became the 17th rector of St. Thomas in 2003. Shaw provides the members with a Sunday service that is uplifting, positive and allows them to go out and make a difference in the community.
“We try to live out our vision,” Shaw said. “Our vision is being a Christ-centered community of faith, which the gospel is taught through our services on Sundays. We try to do that and live by that. We come together on Sunday to worship and we leave on Sunday to serve.
“In order to serve, you got to worship. You’re empowered, you’re given strength, knowledge and energy for folks to really go out into the community to reach others and proclaim the faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
St. Thomas is located at 6361 Lancaster Ave. (formerly St. Paul’s Overbrook) in the city’s Overbrook Farms section of the city. The church originally located at 5th and Adelphi streets, now St. James Place, and dedicated on July 17, 1794. The other locations include: 12th Street below Walnut; 57th and Pearl street (uniting with the Church of the Beloved Disciple); and 52nd and Parrish streets.
The church places a strong emphasis on the Eucharist to show a great deal of appreciation for the Lord. This religion has evolved through the years from the Angelican/Episcopal high church worship experience to one that concentrates on the evangelical Afrocentric belief.
“We come together on Sundays to give thanks to God,” Fr. Shaw said. “One of the things about the church we celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday and every Wednesday. The Greek word for Eucharist is to give thanks. We come together every week to give thanks to God for bringing us through the year. It’s an opportunity to give thanks.”
St. Thomas has quite a legacy with community outreach and humanitarianism, which was established by its founders. Historically, St. Thomas’ clergy and parrishioners have played major part in the abolition/anti-slavery/underground railroad movements. They were involved with the equal rights movement during the 1800s. In addition, St. Thomas has been active in the civil rights movement, NAACP, Union of Black Episcopalian, Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), Philadelphia Interfaith Action and The Episcopal Church Women.
St. Thomas has done a great job of upholding the knowledge and presence of African Americans in the Episcopal Church. The church has an outstanding tradition with their membership through a number of ministries like Men’s Fellowship, Young Adult and Youth Ministries, Church School, Health Ministry, Caring Ministry, Christian Formation, Jazz Ensemble, Chosen 300, Shepherding Program, Chancel Choir and Gospel Choir.
Speaking of the gospel choir, the group was selected as “the best church gospel choir” during the New York Regional Finals in the Verizon Wireless “How Sweet the Sound” (HSTS) competition. The event took place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, brought the St. Thomas Gospel Choir together with five talented choirs from Harlem, N.Y.; Newark, N.J.; Rochester, N.Y.; New Haven, Conn. and Brooklyn, N.Y.
As a result of winning the competition, the gospel choir was presented with a $10,000 check and received an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the national finals.
The gospel choir is celebrating 22 years of music ministry group has made a lot of public appearances including the induction and seating services of the Rev. Katherine Jefferts Shori, the first female Presiding Bishop for the Episcopal Church of the United States. The past nine years the gospel choir has performed with the Philly Pops. They’re had music included by Philadelphia’s and St. Thomas’s own Oscar nominated producer and director, Lee Daniels in his movie, “The Woodsman,” recording three CDs (fourth is being planned). The gospel choir performs every second and fourth Sunday during service at St. Thomas.
The church has plenty of activities to help provide a well-rounded experience like the scholarship program, Boys Scouts, Music Committee and Women’s Day Committee. These activities and others allow members to utilize their skills in a way to support the various groups in the church.
The Boy Scouts have given the youth an incredible opportunity to learn discipline, responsibility, leadership, guidance and direction. In 2006, the Boy Scout Troop 133 of Overbook took a 4,200-mile trip to Alaska. They spent seven days at Camp Lost Lake. The camp is approximately 60 miles from Fairbanks.
The scouts ages 11-18 had to raised $20,000. The youngsters sold popcorn to help with the expenses of the trip. The troop generated $4,000 in sales. They had car washes and bake sales, too. The scouts received donations from community groups as well as members of St. Thomas. The church made it possible for the scouts to make the trip. The church has a long history of helping people reach their goals by working together.
Sources: www.aecst.org, St. Thomas 220 Anniversary Celebration Program and the St. Thomas church bulletin.
The Public League playoffs are really heating up across the city. The league semifinals begin on Feb. 11 in all four classifications. In the Class AAAA,Central will host George Washington at 3:15 p.m. The Lancers have two quality players in 6-foot-5 senior Chris Bing and 6-foot-3 junior Kahlil Williams. Bing leads the team in scoring. He averages 18.8 points a game. The Eagles will rely on strong play in the post from 6-foot-4 junior Charles Brown and 6-foot-4 senior James Cottrell.
Martin Luther King will entertain Frankford. The Cougars have an impressive 17-4 overall record. MLK is led by 6-foot junior guard Sammy Foreman who scored his 1,000 point in a 56-52 win over Southern in the league quarterfinal playoff round. Aaron McFarlan is the Pioneers’ top player. McFarlan, a 6-foot-1 senior, averages 12.4 points a game.
In the Class AAA division, Esperanza will visit Philadelphia Electrical Technology Charter at 3:15 p.m. Esperanza is coming off a big 58-55 victory over Boys’ Latin in the quarterfinals. Briheam Anthony, a 6-foot-4 senior, can really score inside. Anthony averages 16.4 points a game. James Suber gives PET a strong presence around the basket. Suber, a 6-foot-6 senior, is one of the league best big men. He averages 13.2 points a game.
Simon Gratz will battle Imhotep Charter on the road at 5 p.m. Imhotep has received consistent play from 6-foot-4 junior Sean Lloyd and 6-foot-3 junior Devin Liggeons. The Bulldogs will lean on 5-foot-9 senior Malik Tyndale and 6-foot-2 junior Joseph Burnett for their ability to create and get to the basket.
In the Class AA division, Delaware Valley will have a home playoff tilt against School of the Future at 3:15 p.m. Karl Lewis is Delaware Valley’s player to watch. Lewis, a 6-foot-4 junior, averages 10.2 points a game. Dominick Morales is a tremendous scorer for the School of the Future. Morales, 6-foot-2 junior, averages 31.8 points game. He leads the Public League in scoring.
Palumbo will travel to Constitution to play one of the league’s top teams at 6 p.m. Palumbo has a terrific guard in 5-foot-9 junior Anwar Epps who averages 24.3 points a game. Epps is a great scorer. The Generals have 6-foot-6 junior Ahmad Gilbert, the team’s high scoring big man. Gilbert averages 17.1 points a game.
In Class A, Paul Robeson will head to New Media for an interesting matchup at 3:15 p.m. Leron Epps is a big time scorer for Paul Robeson. Epps, a 6-foot-3 forward, averages 20.8 points a game. The team’s high score is 5-foot-8 point guard Jihaad Fluellen who averages 24.1 points a game. Devin Bullock is amjor player for New Media. Bullock, a 6-foot senior, averages 16.8 points a game.
Math, Civics & Sciences will host Sankofa at 4 p.m. MC&S has some exciting players with 6-foot-4 junior Samir Doughty and 6-foot-9 junior Mike Watkins. Doughty is the team’s leading scorer. He averages 14.9 points a game. Anthony Wright-Downing should carry the scoring load for Sankofa. Wright-Downing averages 23.1 points a game.
Chikilra Goodman has played a big part in the success of Stony Brook’s basketball team. Goodman, a product of William W. Bodine High School for International Affairs, has done a great job of scoring, rebounding and passing leading the Seawolves to a 16-7 record overall and a 7-3 mark in the America East Conference.
As a result of her efforts, the former Public League standout has been named to the Dawn Staley Award Watch List announced by the Phoenix Club of Philadelphia. Goodman is averaging 11.7 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. She has handed out a team-high 76 assists.
The Dawn Staley Award was established in 2013 to recognize the country’s best guard in women’s Division I college basketball tying one of the most accomplished women’s basketball players in the world from the Public League to the nation’s best guard in women’s college basketball. The award will be given annually to a player who exemplifies the skills that Staley exhibited throughout her career, ballhandling, scoring, her ability to distribute the basketball and her will to win.
“It’s an honor,” Goodman said. “I was shocked, but I guess working hard turns out good in the end. It’s great. It really brings out the Public League. Brittany [Hrynko, DePaul, Engineering and Science] is on that list. I remember playing against her at E&S.”
Goodman could garner some additional recognition with the way Stony Brook has been playing this season. She hopes the Seawolves can go a long way in the postseason.
“The team is doing good,” Goodman said. “I think winning back to back games helps to build that chemistry, playing with each other, playing together as team and going hard every day in practice. We know that we have one goal and that’s to get to the America East Conference [championship].”
Goodman, a 5-foot-8 senior, would like to win the conference title and play in the NCAA tournament. She clearly understands what she has to do on the court to help Stony Brook to reach its goal.
“My role is to be a leader, but mostly on the court I try to push it in transition,” Goodman said. “I try to get rebounds and push it and if I’m open I’ll take it. I also look for my teammates. I think just being a leader and keeping our intensity and speed of the game moving.”
These attributes have made Goodman a candidate for this award. Skylar Diggins of the University of Notre Dame was the inaugural Dawn Staley award winner last year. The award will be announced during the Final Four weekend. The award ceremony will take place in April at the Union League of Philadelphia.
ESPN will show a very special documentary ‘,’51 Dons’, on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. as a part of Black History Month. The sports film will examine how an integrated 9-0 football team, with three future Hall of Famers, could not play in the annual bowl games. In 1951, for the first time in the school’s history, the University of San Francisco Dons briefly celebrated an undefeated football season.
At the pinnacle of their success, the Dons were not seen as bowl invitees. The 60-minute program, narrated by music legend Johnny Mathis, will also be shown Friday at 10 p.m. on ESPN2 and on Monday, Feb. 10 at 11 p.m. on ESPNU.
In addition, ESPN’s Black History Month programming includes daily vignettes focusing on the color of a player’s uniform instead of on his skin color. The 15- and 30-second spots will air through February on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPNU.
Sixers’ Carter-Williams to vie in Challenge
Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers’ rookie point guard, is one of eight players chosen to compete in the Skills Challenge during All-Star Saturday Night, Feb. 15. A week ago, he was selected to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge. Both events are part of the NBA All-Star weekend activities in New Orleans, with the Rising Stars game on Friday, Feb. 14 and the Skills Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 15.
Carter-Williams leads all rookies in scoring (17.2 ppg), rebounding (5.4 rpg), assists (6.6 apg) and steals (2.24 spg). He will become just the second Sixer (Jrue Holiday, runner-up in 2013) to compete in the Skills Challenge, which is introducing a new format that features four teams of two players each competing in a two-round timed relay-style course consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting stations.
Carter-Williams will be teamed with fellow rookie Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic. They form one of two teams representing the Eastern Conference, joining DeMar DeRozan (Toronto) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee).
5 ex-Temple basketball players on overseas teams
Five Temple basketball players from last year’s team are playing professional basketball abroad. Khalif Wyatt is with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, averaging 14.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game.
Scootie Randall is playing with the Iwate Big Bulls in Japan. He is currently averaging 13.7 points for the Japan BL League team.
Jake O’Brien is playing in the Ukraine Superleague. He is averaging 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds a game for Ferro-ZNTU.
T.J. DiLeo plays for Glessen 49ers of Germany’s Pro A League. DiLeo is averaging 8.8 points and 2.3 assists a game.
Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson plays in Luxembourg,, averaging 15.9 points and 8.9 rebounds for Contem.
These players helped to lead Temple to 103 wins and four NCAA tournaments over the last four years.
National Signing Day for high school football players has received a lot of attention over the years. It looks like the Public and Catholic Leagues have several players who will be playing major college football next year. Philadelphia continues to make a solid presence in terms of producing Division I talent.
Imhotep Charter coming off a spectacular year being the first Public League football team to compete for PIAA state championship has four players heading to Divsion I programs. Deandre Scott, a defensive back and running back, will play for Arizona State. Scott will have a chance to play with wide receiver Jaelen Strong from West Catholic. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder, is listed by Rivals.com as the No. 49 defensive back in the country.
Aaron Ruff will stay home and play for the Temple Owls. Ruff, a 6-foot-3, 300-pound offensive lineman, was recruited by a number of major colleges such as Stanford, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Michigan State and Virginia Tech. He is a terrific run and pass blocker.
Tyrone Barge will play for the University of Rhode Island. Barge, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive lineman, had 83 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
Taleem Muhammad will be going to Alabama A&M to play in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Muhammad, 6-foot-6, 298-pound offensive tackle, was big part of Imhotep Charter’s high-powered offense. He will be playing Black college football in the SWAC against teams such as Jackson State, Southern, Grambling State Alabama State and Texas Southern.
Imhotep Charter wasn’t the only Public League school to make a big splash on signing day. Martin Luther King has some outstanding players heading to Division I programs. Dontae Angus had originally committed to Florida, but ended up signing with West Virginia helped the Cougars post a 12-3 record this season. Angus, a 6-foot-6, 330-pound offensive tackle, has tremendous power and strength. He also has good footwork.
Joseph Walker will play for the University of Delaware. Walker, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound quarterback, has a good arm and speed. He can thrown the ball down the field. He has the ability to make a big play with his legs. He threw for a Public League record 1,698 yards and ran for 800 yards while scoring 14 touchdowns.
Walker’s big target was wide receiver Delane Hart who will be going to Toledo. Hart, a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder, had 45 receptions for 1,179 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s an explosive receiver in the open field.
Eric Taylor will play Division I football at Marist. Taylor, a 6-foot-2, 250-pounder, played offensive and defensive line for Prep Charter.
In the Catholic League, Syracuse will get two of the city’s top players in Neumann-Goretti’s Jamal Custis and La Salle’s Zaire Franklin. Custis, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound wide receiver, had 24 receptions for 541 yards. Franklin, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker, was selected to play in the Big 33 game.
Thaddius Smith will play his college football in the ACC. Smith, Cardinal O’Hara’s All-Catholic League wide receiver, will play for Boston College. He had 36 receptions for 622 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
Deion Oliver, Archbishop Wood’s All-Catholic offensive lineman, will be going to the University of California-Berkeley. Oliver, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound offensive guard, has good strength and quickness.
The University of Pittsburgh signed two Catholic League standouts in Roman Catholic’s Hezekiah Trahan and West Catholic’s Patrick Amara. Trahan, 6-foot-4, 250-pounder, was a three-year starter at defensive end. Amara, a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder, played wide receiver and safety for the Burrs. He had 25 receptions for 391 yards and five touchdowns. He had 43 tackles and three interceptions playing safety.
West Catholic running back Greg White will play for Towson. White, a 5-foot-10, 185-pounder, had 169 carries for 1,338 yards and 19 touchdowns this season.
Connor Golden, Archbishop Ryan’s wide receiver and free safety play his college football for Dartmouth College in the Ivy League.