The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church presented the Rev. Tony Regist with the official charter for the Artemesia Bowden Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) in the Diocese of West Texas on Friday, February 27, during the 111th annual Diocesan Council, held in San Marcos, Texas.
The UBE in the diocese was formed at St. Francis, San Antonio, on February 16, 2014, and initiated by the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge, bishop of the diocese. “The main focus of the union is to work on reconciling relationships. The real effort to get this chapter underway has been by the Rev. Tony Regist,” said Lillibridge. Regist serves as president of the diocesan chapter.
“What a blessing. We have three bishops who are honorary lifetime bishops, six clergy members, and members from 12 church across the diocese as members,” said Regist.
The officers include Alexis C. Nicholson (vice-president), Tom and Martha Hardin (treasurer), and Yvonne Walcott (secretary).
The UBE chapter in the diocese was named for Artemesia Bowden, who was recruited by Bishop Steptoe Johnson, second Bishop of the Missionary District of Western Texas, in 1902 to serve as administrator of St. Philip’s Normal, a school designed to educate the daughters of recently emancipated slaves.
Under Bowden’s leadership of 52 years, the school eventually grew to a high school and then to a junior college for young women and men of all ethnicities. Now as part of the Alamo Community Colleges District in San Antonio, St. Philip’s College enrolls 10,000+ students for on-campus classes, and thousands more in continuing education and distance learning courses.
During the presentation, Regist said, “How do we see Jesus? We see Jesus in the face of the sick, of the mentally ill, those in prison, those in nursing homes. So here, we are called to answer the call.”
The first goal of the chapter is to provide campus ministry to all Alamo Community Colleges in San Antonio in three years time. The second goal is plant a seed of ministry in all the junior colleges in the diocese in five years. “We want to take the Gospel outside the walls – to the nursing homes, to the shelters, where Jesus is present. Our goal is to serve all God’s people,” said Regist.
The Presiding Bishop presented the national charter to the officers of the diocesan chapter. “It takes faith, hope, and persistence to make a dream a reality. Dr. Artemesia Bowden, thank you,” said Regist.
“We welcome you whole-heartedly as a new chapter of the UBE. May God bless you all,” said Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori.