About Us

OUR STORY - OUR ROOTS - OUR HERITAGE

Time Line 2016 to 1910

Current

2015... The Rev. Dr. Kwasi A. Thornell Interim Rector

The Rev. Dr. Kwasi A. Thornell, was ordained a Priest in the Episcopal Church, May 31st, 1972. He has served his ministry in urban settings in Detroit, New York City, St. Louis, Mo, Washington, DC, Columbus and Cincinnati, OH. He was Canon Missioner at the Washington National Cathedral, Canon Vicar at Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati and served the national church on the Executive Council for six years.

Canon Thornell has served the Union of Black Episcopalians as both National President and Vice President. He retired in 2004 to teach early childhood education. In 2007, he and others founded the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, a diocesan private boys school in Washington, DC, where he served as Administrator and Chaplain.

Canon Thornell retired a second time and moved to California where he worked previously at the Next Step Learning Center in Oakland as the Community Outreach Specialist and Mentor before coming to St. Augustine’s as it’s Interim. He is married to Jacqui Love Marshall. They have three children and six grandchildren. 


2013 to 2015 The Rev. Tyrone Fowlkes Rector of St. Augustine's

The Rev. Tyrone Fowlkes is entering his fifth year of ordination as a priest and as Chaplain for Community of the Gospel, a non-residential monastic community of theEpiscopal Church. Prior to being elected Rector of St. Augustine's, he served as Priest-Consultant for Church of the Holy Cross and Assisting Priest at Church of Our Savior; both in Chicago.

Rev. Fowlkes’ background weaves together experiences in the arts, social justice and spirituality. Prior to becoming a priest, Rev. Fowlkes held positions in design and communications with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the national headquarters of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

He is the former Director of Spiritual Formation at UCAN, a child-welfare agency in Chicago. He has also worked for many years in HIV/AIDS advocacy and service organizations and was on the board of directors of the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition and the HIV/AIDS Task Force of the Diocese of Chicago.

Throughout his ministry, Rev. Fowlkes has fostered community, global understanding, and concern for the poor and marginalized. Rev. Fowlkes holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in Visual Communication from the Herron School of Art, a master of divinity degree from Christian Theological Seminary and a master of arts management degree from Columbia College Chicago. He has also earned certificates from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.

 

2012 to 2013. The Rev. Dr. Kwasi A. Thornell Interim Rector

The Rev. Dr. Kwasi A. Thornell, was ordained a Priest in the Episcopal Church, May 31st, 1972. He has served his ministry in urban settings in Detroit, New York City, St. Louis, Mo, Washington, DC, Columbus and Cincinnati, OH. He was Canon Missioner at the Washington National Cathedral, Canon Vicar at Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati and served the national church on the Executive Council for six years.

Canon Thornell has served the Union of Black Episcopalians as both National President and Vice President. He retired in 2004 to teach early childhood education. In 2007, he and others founded the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, a diocesan private boys school in Washington, DC, where he served as Administrator and Chaplain.

Canon Thornell retired a second time and moved to California where he worked previously at the Next Step Learning Center in Oakland as the Community Outreach Specialist and Mentor before coming to St. Augustine’s as it’s Interim. He is married to Jacqui Love Marshall. They have three children and six grandchildren.

 

The Rev. Dr. Monrelle T. Williams

The Reverend Doctor Monrelle T. Williams is a native of Barbados, West Indies. His educational accomplishments include the following: a Bachelor’s degree (with First Class Honors) in Theology from the University of the West Indies; a Master’s Degree in Philosophy (Ecumenism) from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and a Doctorate degree from Durham University in England

 

Parish Photo

1996, The Rev. Dr. Katherine L. Ward

In 1996, The Rev. Dr. Katherine L. Ward was called to become rector. She was instituted in September of 1996 at a service which was truly “A Feast of Fellowship.” The first Black woman to become a rector in the Diocese of California, she has called the congregation to continue its calling to community service while remembering its Christian calling to pray, break bread together, study the Word of God and to fellowship one with another. Under her leadership, St. Augustine’s has added many innovative programs, among which are the First Friday Live Music/Arts Ministry, Adopt-a Family, Christmas in April, Travel Club, Sister Church (St. John’s Montclair), Tap Dance Class, and Health Ministry which includes regular blood pressure screening and a lecture series. Education and Evangelism are being stressed. In addition, the lingering note on the property at 27th and West was collected and the purchase of the property adjacent to the church office was initiated. Rev. Ward was instrumental in the enrollment of St. Augustine’s with the Oakland Coalition of Congregations, an organization which is dedicated to making Oakland a safer and more satisfying place in which to live.

Eight years later, Rev. Ward retired and St. Augustine’s was again found without a rector. Associate priest, Rev. Anne Cox-Bailey, stepped in as an interim rector, however, it was for only a short time. In the nick of time, the Rev. Arthur Boone was brought on for an unprecedented third term as interim rector for St. Augustine’s.

With a search process taking nearly three years, in September 2006, the church was blessed and thankful to receive its rector, The Rev. Dr. Monrelle T. Williams. St. Augustine’s is on its journey toward spiritual maturity.As Robert Frost says, “many promises to keep and miles to go before (it) sleep(s).”

 

 

The Rev. Arthur Boone returned as interim rector, a position he served in until July 1996.

 

 

1946 , 1961, 1994 and 1996

On October 1, 1946, The Rev. Lewis Austin Baskervill became vicar. Under his leadership, youth programs flourished and the church continued to grow. Parish status was reached in 1948. In 1957 it was incorporated as an independent and self-supporting parish. Fr. Baskervill served as rector until 1961. In December, 1961, The Rev. Richard Younge was called and ably served until 1966, at which time he left to become Chaplain at San Jose State College (now University).

During the next year, the Vestry and lay leaders of the congregation ministered to the spiritual and material needs of the parish while the entire membership prayerfully considered the role the church in the social upheaval and the Civil Rights Movement. With profound insight motivated by a genuine desire to expand its Christian witness, St. Augustine’s decided that its ministry should emphasize innovative community involvement. Such involvement would include listening to the community and becoming active participants in selected community efforts.

On this note, The Rev. Earl A. Neil began his ministry as rector of St. Augustine’s in July, 1967. During his tenure, St. Augustine’s ministry of witness focused on community involvement: celebration and affirmation of its African-American heritage and contributions to spirituality; appreciation of the early African-American community in the Bay Area–many of whom were founders and members of St. Augustine’s; and a deep pastoral care and concern for the congregation.

One of the highlights of Fr. Neil’s ministry lay in the fact that St. Augustine’s served as the primary meeting place for the Black Panther Party (BPP). Fr. Neil was the spiritual advisor for the group. In January 1969, members of St. Augustine’s and BPP initiated the first Free Breakfast Program for School Children of any kind in the nation. Toward the end of Fr. Neil’s tenure, a merger was forged with Trinity Church, an historic parish at 29th Street and Telegraph Avenue. In May 1974, however, Fr. Neil accepted a position on the staff of the Presiding Bishop at the national headquarters of the Episcopal Church in New York City.

Upon Fr. Neil’s departure, The Rev. Richard York began the work of merging the two congregations in the location. St. Augustine’s name was retained since they were losing their home. Fr. York served for approximately five years before he resigned.

Upon Fr. York’s resignation, The Rev. Arthur Boone became the interim rector and served until The Rev. Charles Elton Carter, a priest from Panama become the rector.

Fr. Carter’s leadership yielded such accomplishments as the restoration of the church by the Preservation Committee, establishment of the church as a local historic landmark, Youth Sunday, and the advent of birthday and anniversary acknowledgements with appropriate music and prayer. Fr. Carter promoted more lay participation in the services and designed the second Sunday of the month as “Healing Sunday”. It was during his tenure that the Food Pantry, Tutorial Program (now called The Learning Center) and Drug Support Groups came into being.

When Fr. Carter retired in December of 1994, The Rev. Arthur Boone returned as interim rector, a position he served in until July 1996.

 

 

1913

In 1913, Archdeacon Emery assumed oversight of St. Augustine’s, and it became a diocesan mission. The lot and a cottage at of 27th and West Streets were brought for $3,000. The cottage was remodeled and the first service was held on May 4, 1913. During Fr. Wallace’s time as rector, a building fund was accumulated. The cornerstone was laid by Bishop Nichols and the new St. Augustine’s was opened on November 14, 1920 by Bishop Parsons. Fr. Wallace served for thirty five years and retired in 1946.

 

 

1910

In 1910, the Negro Episcopalians in the Bay Area were scattered, attending white Episcopal churches. In 1910, The Rev. E. F. Gee, Rector of St. John’s at 8th and Grove Streets, Oakland, worked with Negro members of his congregation to form the nucleus of a mission.

The Rt. Rev. William Ford Nichols, Bishop, preached at a meeting of Negro Episcopalians assembled from the entire Bay Area. On the last Sunday in July, 1910, St. Augustine’s was formally established as a mission of the St. John’s Parish. Services were held regularly thereafter at 6:00 pm on Sunday. Members of the new mission continued to organize and St. Monnica’s Guild was eventually formed among the women.

After almost a year, The Rev. David R. Wallace was called from Chicago as Vicar. On August 4, 1911, he met with St. Monnica’s Guild and on August 6, he celebrated Holy Communion. Under his leadership, Sunday School and the Men’s Club were organized. At this time, St. John’s was still assisting in meeting the vicar’s salary and expenses.

 

St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church

“If you desire to praise him, then live what you express. Live good lives, and you yourselves will be his praise.”

Mission

To grow God’s church and serve God’s people in our worship, which reflects the richness of the African American culture, and through educational and outreach programs to the community. We welcome all who wish to join us in witness to God’s love, empowerment and mercy.

Address

525 29th Street
Oakland CA 94609
Phone:
510-832-6462
Fax: 510-832-6464

Copyright 2016 - St Augustine Episcopal Church