The Rev. Mark Bozzuti-Jones, Priest for Pastoral Care at Trinity Church on Wall Street in New York City is guest preacher for the Burgess Memorial Evensong at 4 pm this Sunday, July 22, at Trinity Chapel in Oak Bluffs. Mr. Bozzuti-Jones is author of “The Gospel of Barack Obama, According to Mark,” and several other books. The Vineyard Sound will perform special music and a reception will follow.
On Wall Street in lower Manhattan, the historic Trinity Episcopal Church where Mr. Bozzuti-Jones serves has been in the national spotlight in the past few years. It was very near the World Trade Center and provided refuge during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks there. It is also close to Zuccotti Park where the Occupy Wall Street protest was located last year.
The mid-summer service was begun more than a decade ago to celebrate the life and ministry of the Rt. Rev. John Burgess, 12th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and the first African-American Bishop in the United States. The event also honors his late wife, Esther, a passionate civil rights activist. The services have traditionally featured notable African-American speakers. The Burgesses attended Grace Church in Vineyard Haven for years and inspired many with their dedication to civil rights, equality, and justice. The Island’s three Episcopal parishes, St. Andrew’s in Edgartown, Grace, and Trinity join together in sponsoring the event.
Writing about Bishop Burgess in the Martha’s Vineyard Times in 2008, the late Russell Hoxsie quoted Witness Magazine, which described the bishop in a 2003 obituary as “among the last of the Episcopal Church’s great progressive bishops of the twentieth century.”
“Bishop Burgess was known for his witness for inclusion of racial minorities in church and society and carried out a lifelong ministry of seeking out the welfare of the urban poor, always working to draw his church outside itself,” the obituary continued.
The John Melville Burgess Urban Fund, which he initiated, was named in his honor at his retirement. The fund, which makes grants available to community groups addressing systemic causes of poverty, is considered a ground-breaker in granting money and has contributed more than $3 million to revitalization efforts in eastern Massachusetts cities.
For more information, call Grace Church at 508-693-0332.