Virginia Theological Seminary and the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church recently entered into an agreement that designates the Seminary's Bishop Payne Library as home for the "African American Historical Collection of the Episcopal Church: A Joint Project of the Historical Society and the Bishop Payne Library of the Virginia Theological Seminary."
The agreement is a result of four years planning on the part of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, including two year's discussion with Virginia Seminary. The planning phase was funded by grants from the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, the Louisville Institute, and the Episcopal Church Foundation
The African American Episcopal Collection is a newly created archival project that will be a historical collection, composed of various media (oral history, documents, institutional records, photographs) chronicling the lives and experiences of African American Episcopalians.
Virginia Seminary will collect, house, arrange, and make the Collection available in the Bishop Payne Library. The agreement between the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church and Virginia Seminary outlines a plan to expand the Collection, obtain additional funding and materials, and improve its accessibility to interested parties.
In summer of 2003, the Bishop Payne Library will construct additional archival space to accommodate the Collection, which currently includes collected writings from prominent African American Episcopalians that are being processed and preserved for future use.
The Bishop Payne Library currently contains significant archival collections and is a key resource for scholarly theological research, particularly in Episcopal history and the Anglican Communion. The Library is named in honor of the Bishop Payne Divinity School, a seminary for the education of African and African American Episcopalians. Part of its mission is to sustain the memory and heritage of that school, which merged with Virginia Seminary in 1953.
Prospective donors to the collection, those who are aware of materials that are appropriate or those who want additional information about the collection, please contact Mitzi Budde, Head Librarian, or Julia Randle, Archivist, at 703-461-1731. Individuals interested in providing financial support for the African American Episcopal Collection should send contributions to Virginia Theological Seminary, 3737 Seminary Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22304.
The mission of the Collection is to collect and preserve unique archival materials that chronicle the experiences of African American Episcopalians in the United States. The primary goal of the Collection is to make such materials available for both scholarly research and education of the wider Church.
Founded in 1910 in Philadelphia, the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church furthers understanding of church history through research, conferences, archival preservation programs, and publication. The Society, an official agency of the Episcopal Church, is a voluntary organization for people who are engaged in researching and preserving church history and for those who enjoy reading that history. The Society serves the Episcopal Church by adding historical perspective to contemporary discussions of theological significance.
Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church and was founded in 1823. The school prepares men and women for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas.
By Albert H. Lee