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Jordan, Joseph H. (1842-1901)

The first black Universalist minister was from Norfolk, Virginia, where he returned to begin a Universalist mission effort. Jordan was born in West Norfolk, Virginia in 1842, and was converted to Universalism mostly through the writings of important leaders such as Thomas Whittemore. He visited Philadelphia in the late 1880’s and attended the Church of the Messiah, where he was eventually received into fellowship. Edwin S. Sweetser, the minister there, presided over Jordan’s ordination in 1889. Jordan wanted to start a Universalist church in his hometown of West Norfolk. The congregation, which had begun to gather in 1887, was accepted into fellowship by the General Convention at the same time as Jordan. Within two years he had organized a day school and a Sunday School. In 1893 he made an address before the Universalist General Convention where he asked for support for the mission. The support was voted, and a building was erected in Norfolk in 1894, which served as church and school. It was dedicated in November 1894 as the First Universalist Church of Norfolk with Edwin Sweetser preaching on the occasion. Quillen Shinn, who was a missionary in the South, organized a youth group and preached there in September. A second mission was established in Suffolk by Jordan’s assistant Thomas Wise. He had preached and taught school there previously. After raising some funds, a building was erected in Suffolk in 1898. Jordan died on June 3, 1901 in Huntersville, Virginia, but the work was carried on initially by Wise, who was placed in charge of both missions. Unfortunately he soon became a Methodist, and the Norfolk mission collapsed. The Suffolk mission was carried on by Joseph F. Jordan (no relation).


 


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