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Union of Black Episcopalians

James Solomon Russell Chapter

The Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) is an organization within the Episcopal Church dedicated to advancing racial justice, supporting Black clergy and lay leaders, celebrating Black cultural and spiritual heritage, and advocating for inclusivity and equality for Black Episcopalians.

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James Solomon Russell

The The Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) 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 T. Walker, Tollie Caution, Charles Lawrence, Deborah Harmon Hines, and countless others.

Organized in 1968 as the Union of Black Clergy and Laity, (and renamed in 1971), the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) is part of a 200-year tradition of black leadership in the Episcopal Church. UBE now has over 55 chapters and interest groups in the United States, Canada, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The goals for the organization are to develop leadership among people of African descent, to support and sustain financially – predominately black congregations and other affirming, black organizations, and to work with others to eliminate racism and injustice within the Episcopal Church and in society.

The James Solomon Russell Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians operates in the Diocese of Southern Virginia and represents individuals and congregations within the Diocese.


The mission of the James Solomon Russell – Diocese of Southern Virginia Chapter of The Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) is to:

  • Educate, advocate, and promote unity among all Episcopalians;
  • Create awareness within young men and women of African descent about the clergy vocation;
  • Fight racism within and outside the church;
  • Incorporate fiscal responsibility into the life, work and ministry of UBE;
  • Support clergy and laypersons of People of Color;
  • To be a community of vigilance and action regarding matters of injustice, especially the effects of racism in the Church and society;
  • To engage fully in the Jesus Movement as we Become the Beloved Community.

Vision Statement

Our vision is to:

  • Spiritually awaken Episcopalians to Christ-like inclusion in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia and The Episcopal Church.
  • Be a community of action against matters of injustice and racism and to proclaim that “Black Lives Matter” in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia and The Episcopal Church.
  • Promote African American and People of Color leadership (lay and ordained) within the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia and The Episcopal Church.
  • Encourage the discernment of clergy and religious vocations among young men and women of the African Descent and People of Color within the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia and The Episcopal Church.
  • Provide education to further this mission and vision to ourselves and others within the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia and The Episcopal Church.

Sermon by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the Union of Black Episcopalians’ Youth Praise and Worship Eucharist, held at All Saints Church, Pasadena, on Wednesday, July 24, 2019.

Goals for 2023-2024

  1. To build our membership, especially among our youth and young adult constituency.
  2. To expand parish and diocesan support and participation in UBE programs and projects.    
  3. To explore the history of Blacks and their leadership in The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Communion.
  4. To work collaboratively with the Commission to Dismantle Racism and Discrimination on their efforts within the Diocesan Partnership.
  5. To award the Rev. Dr. Canon Joseph N. Green, Jr. scholarship to a student enrolled in a HBCU.

We are beginning to explore ways to connect with organizations and faith leaders in Communities of Color in Diocese. And, we will host events that provide educational, spiritual and cultural opportunities for enrichment and connection. All are welcome to participate in our events.


Deborah Austin



Vice President

Michele McCoy


Helen Sharpe-Williams



  • St. Martin’s, Williamsburg
  • St. Mark’s, Bracey

  • St. Paul’s Memorial Chapel, Lawrenceville
  • Diocese of Southern Virginia

Life Memebers

  • Bishop Susan Haynes


  • The Very Rev. Ronald Ramsey
  • The Very Rev. Stanley Sawyer
  • The Rev. William L. Queen, Jr.

Mid-Atlantic Regional Director

  • Helen Sharpe-Williams