Vision for the 21st Century
A diverse, yet united, culture that lives into our baptismal covenant, celebrates the gifts of Black Episcopalians, and fully participates in the mission and governance of The Episcopal Church.
The mission of the Union of Black Episcopalians – H. Belfield Hannibal Chapter is to:
educate, advocate, and promote unity among all Episcopalians;
fight racism within and outside the church;
support clergy and laypersons of African descent,
encourage and support the active participation of persons of African descent in all facets of the life and work of The Episcopal Church including becoming deputies to General Convention;
stimulate the growth of Black membership; and
encourage and nurture ecumenism among persons of African descent.
The Union of Black Episcopalians stands in the continuing tradition of more than 200 years of Black leadership in the Episcopal Church.
Beginning with the establishment of St. Thomas Episcopal Church by Absalom Jones in 1794 in the city of Philadelphia through the election of Barbara Harris as Suffragan bishop of Massachusetts there has always been a strong corps of Black Christians in the Episcopal Church. People like James Holly, Henry Delaney, John Walker, Tollie Caution, Charles Lawrence, Deborah Harmon Hines, and countless others.
Organized in 1968 as the Union of Black Clergy and Laity, the Union is the proud inheritor of the work of these people and earlier organization, the Convocation of Colored Clergy, the Conference of Church Workers Among Colored People, all dedicated to the ministry of Blacks in the Episcopal Church. The name was changed to the Union of Black Episcopalians in 1971.
The Union of Black Episcopalians is a confederation of more than 55 chapters and interest groups throughout the continental United States and the Caribbean. The Union also has members in Canada, Africa, and Latin America.
History of the Union of Black Episcopalians
The Union of Black Episcopalians was formed on February 8, 1968, as the Union of Black Clergy and Laity (UBCL) by a group of African American clergy who met in St. Philip’s Church, New York. The purpose of the organization was to eradicate racism from the structure and governance of The Episcopal Church, to fight racism in society, and to stimulate the growth of Black membership within The Episcopal Church. In 1971, the UBCL changed its name to the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE). The goals of UBE encompass advocating for including an authentic African American voice in decisions of diocesan and national governing bodies, developing liturgical styles in worship that celebrate the Afro-Anglican tradition, and encouraging participation in the political and religious concerns of the Black community.
For more information about precursors to UBE, visit the National UBE website: ube.org. “The name had changed, but the agenda remained the same.”
History of the H. Belfield Hannibal Chapter
From 2002 to 2003 a group of committed Episcopalians, members of an existing chapter of UBE in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles gathered to do what God calls Christians to do: “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God.” This group organized to form a recognized UBE chapter on January 6, 2005 and opened an account with the Episcopal Community Federal Credit Union in the EDLA. This date was not only Epiphany in the wider church but also an epiphany for those who saw the light of a new vision from a Black perspective.
Earliest documented leadership includes Kenneth Adams, Margaret H. McCauley, Loyce Lang Hill, Yvonne Bingham, The Rev. Frederick Glass Marie Dolores Conner, and The Rev. Canon H. Belfield Hannibal, for whom the chapter is now named. Joining later were The Rev. Altagracia Perez, Guy Leemhuis, and Jamesetta Glosson Hammons along with other clergy and lay members. Diocesan, The Right Reverend J. Jon Bruno, and Suffragan, The Right Reverend Chester L. Talton, supported the chapter with their presence, prayers, and finances.
The chapter would adopt a mission to fight racism and to encourage the involvement of Black people in the total life of the church on every level and in every way -mission, stewardship, evangelism, education, leadership, governance, and politics. The Union is committed to translating these words into Christian action for all Episcopalians and at all levels of the church.
H. Belfield Hannibal
The Rev. Canon H. Belfield Hannibal
(June 22, 1920 - January 21, 2004)
“Bel,” as he was affectionately known, was one of the founders of this chapter. At the time of his death, Bel had been an active Episcopal priest for over 58 years. He was committed to justice, mercy, and peace and served the church with great love.
To commemorate his life, ministry, and witness, the H. Belfield Hannibal Chapter is named in his honor.
The Rev. Deacon Canon Jamesetta Glosson Hammons, President Emeritus, UBE: H. Belfield Hannibal Chapter