Raphael Morgan

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Source: The Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica). July 22, 1913.
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Very Rev. Raphael Morgan (born Robert Josias Morgan, 186x/187x - 19xx) was a Jamaican-American priest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, designated as '"Priest-Apostolic" to America and the West Indies' ((Greek)

Ιεραποστολος),[note 1][1] later the founder and superior of the Order of the Cross of Golgotha,[note 2] and thought to be the first Black Orthodox clergyman in America.

He spoke broken Greek, and therefore served mostly in English. Having recently been discovered, his life has garnered great interest, but much of his life still remains shrouded in mystery.

Fr. Raphael is said to have resided all over the world, including: "in Palestine, Syria, Joppa, Greece, Cyprus, Mytilene, Chios, Sicily, Crete, Egypt, Russia, Ottoman Turkey, Austria, Germany, England, France, Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, Bermuda, and the United States."[2]

Early Life

Robert Josias Morgan was born in Chapelton, Clarence Parish, Jamaica either in the late 1860s or early 1870s to Robert Josias and Mary Ann (née Johnson) Morgan. He was born six months after his father's death, and named in his honour. Robert was raised in the Anglican tradition and was received elementary schooling locally.[2]

In his teenage years he travelled to Colón, Panama, then to British Honduras, back to Jamaica, and then to the United States. He became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) and left as a missionary to Germany.[2]

Period in the Church of England

He then came to England, where he joined the Church of England and was sent to Sierra Leona to the Church Missionary Society Grammar School at Freetown. He studied Greek, Latin, and other higher-level subjects. Being poor, Robert had to work to support himself, and worked as second master of a public school in Freetown. He took course in the Church Missionary Society College at Fourah Bay in Freetown, and was soon appointed a missionary teacher and lay-reader by the Episcopalian Bishop of Liberia, the Right Reverend Samuel David Ferguson.[2] Robert later said during a trip to Jamaica in 1901 that he served five years in West Africa, of which he spent three years in missionary work.[3]

After this Robert again visited England for private study, and then travelled to America to work amongst the African-American community as a lay-reader. He was accepted as a Postulant and as candidate for the Episcopalian deaconate. During the canonical period of waiting period before ordination, Robert again returned to England to study at Saint Aidan's Theological College in Birkenhead, and finally prosecuted his studies at King's College of the University of London.[2] The colleges however do not contain records of his attendance.[note 3]

Period in the Episcopal Church

He returned to America, and on June 20, 1895 was ordained as deacon[note 4] by the Rt. Rev. Leighton Coleman,[4] Bishop of the Episcopalian Diocese of Delaware, and a well-known opponent of racism. Robert was appointed honorary curate in St Matthews' Church in Wilminton, Delaware, serving there from 1896 to 1897,[5] and procured a job as a teacher for a few public schools in Delaware. From 1897 he served at Charleston, West Virginia.[5]

In 1898, the deacon Robert (Rev. R.J. Morgan) was transferred to the Missionary Jurisdiction of Ashville (now in the Diocese of Western North Carolina). By 1899 he was listed as being assistant minister at St. Stephen's Chapel in Morganton, North Carolina, and St. Cyprian's Church in Lincolnton, North Carolina.[6][note 5]

In 1901-1902 Rev. R. J. Morgan made a visit to his homeland Jamaica. In October 1901 he gave an address to the Jamaica Church Missionary Union, on West Africa and mission work.[3] He also gave a lecture in Port Maria, Jamaica in October 1902, entitled "Africa - lts people, Tribes, Idolatry, Customs."[7]

Between 1900 and 1906, Robert moved around much of the Eastern seaboard. From 1902 to 1905 Deacon Morgan served at Richmond, Virginia; in 1905 at Nashville, Tennessee; and by 1906 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his address care of the Church of the Crucifixion.[5][note 6]

At some point during this period he joined an off-shoot of the Episcopalian Church, known as the "American Catholic Church" (ACC), a sect founded by Joseph René Vilatte.[note 7] He is listed in the records of the Episcopal Church of the USA as late as 1908, when he was suspended from ministry on the allegations of abandoning his post.


Trip to Russia

By the turn of the 20th century, Robert seriously began to question his faith, and began intensive study of Anglicanism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy over a three year period, to discover what he felt was the true religion. He concluded that the Orthodox Church was "the pillar and ground of truth", resigned from the Episcopalian Church, and embarked on an extensive trip abroad beginning in the Russian Empire in 1904.[2]

Once there, Robert visited various monasteries and churches, including sites in Odessa, St. Petersburg, Moscow and Kiev, soon becoming quite the sensation. Sundry periodicals began publishing pictures and articles on him, and soon Robert became the Special Guest of the Tsar. He was allowed to be present for the anniversary celebrations of Nicholas II's coronation, and the memorial service said for the repose of the soul of the late Emperor Alexander III.[8]

Leaving Russia, Robert traveled Turkey, Cyprus, and the Holy Land, returning to America and writing an article to the Russian-American Orthodox Messenger (Vestnik) in 1904 about his experience in Russia. In this open letter, Morgan expressed hope that the Anglican Church could unite with the Orthodox Churches, clearly moved by his experience in Russia.[note 8] People of African descent were generally well-received within the Russian Empire, Morgan believed. Abram Hannibal had served under Emperor Peter the Great, and rose to lieutenant general in the Russian Army. Visiting artists, foreign service officials, and athletes, such as famous horse jockey Jimmy Winkfield, were likewise welcomed. With his experience of Russia and Russian Orthodoxy fresh in his mind, Morgan returned to the United States and continued his spiritual quest.[9]

Study and Trip to Ecumenical Patriarchate

For another three years, Robert studied under Greek priests for his baptism,[2] eventually deciding to seek entry and ordination in the Greek Orthodox Church. In January of 1906, he is documented as assisting in the Christmas liturgy.[note 9] In 1907 the Philadephia Greek community referred Robert to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople armed with two letters of support. One was a recommendation from Fr. Demetrios Petrides, the Greek priest then serving the Philadelphia community, dated 18 June 1907, who described Morgan as a man sincerely coming into Orthodoxy after long and diligent study, and recommending his baptism and ordination into the priesthood. The second letter of support was from the "Ecclesiastical Committee" of the Philadelphia Greek Orthodox Church, stating he could serve as an assistant priest if he failed to form a separate Orthodox parish among his fellow Black Americans.[note 10]

In Constantinople, Robert was interviewed by Metropolitan Joachim (Phoropoulos) of Pelagonia, one of the few bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that could speak English and among the most learned of the Constantinopolitan hierarchs of that time. Metropolitan Joachim examined Robert, noting that he had a "deep knowledge of the teachings of the Orthodox Church", and that he also had a certificate from the President of the Methodist Community, duly notarized, stating that he was a man "of high calling and of a religious life".[10] Citing the Biblical exhortation "...the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (John 6:37), the metropolitan concluded that Robert should be baptised, chrismated, ordained, and sent back to America in order to "carry the light of the Orthodox faith among his racial brothers".

Baptism and Ordination

Metr. Joachim (Phoropoulos) of Pelagonia, Fr. Raphael's ordaining bishop.

On Friday August 2, 1907 the Holy Synod approved that the Baptism take place the following Sunday in the Church of the Lifegiving Source at the Patriarchal Monastery at Valoukli, in Constantinople.[note 11] Metropolitan Joachim (Phoropoulos) of Pelagonia was to officiate at the sacrament, and the sponsor was to be Bishop Leontios (Liverios) of Theodoroupolis, Abbott of the Monastery at Valoukli. On Sunday August 4, 1907, Robert was baptised "Raphael" before 3000 people;[2] subsequently he was ordained a deacon on August 12, 1907 by Metropolitan Joachim; and finally ordained a priest on the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, August 15, 1907.[note 12] According to the contemporary Uniate periodical L'Echo d' Orient, which sarcastically described Morgan's Baptism of triple immerson, the Metropolitan conducted the sacraments of Baptism and Ordination in the English language, following which Fr. Raphael chanted the Divine Liturgy in English.[11] Fr. Raphael Morgan's conversion to the Greek Orthodox Church made him the first African American Orthodox priest.

Fr. Raphael was sent back to America with vestments, a cross, and 20 pounds sterling for his traveling expenses. He was allowed to hear confessions, but denied Holy Chrism and an antimension, presumably to attach his missionary ministry to the Philadelphia church. The minutes of the Holy Synod from October 2, 1907, made it clear in fact that Fr. Raphael was to be under the jurisdiction of Rev. Petrides of Philadelphia, until such time as he had been trained in liturgics and was able to establish a separate Orthodox parish.[10]

Return to America

Rev. Alexander C. Victor Cartier, 8th Rector of The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas (1906–1912).

Ellis Island records indicate the arrival in New York from Naples, Italy, of the priest, Raffaele Morgan, in December 1907.[12] Once home, Fr. Raphael baptized his wife and children in the Orthodox Church. This is noted in the minutes of the Holy Synod of February 9, 1908, which acknowledges receipt of a communication from Fr. Raphael.

The last mention of Fr. Raphael in Patriarchal records is in the minutes of the Holy Synod of November 4, 1908, which cite a letter from Fr. Raphael recommending an Anglican priest of Philadelphia, named "A.C.V. Cartier",[note 13] as a candidate for conversion to Orthodoxy and ordination as a priest. Cartier was rector of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, in Philadelphia, from 1906-12.[note 14] Saint Thomas' served the African American elite of Philadelphia and was one of the most prestigious congregations in African American Christianity, having been started in 1794 by Absalom Jones, one of the founders, together with Richard Allen, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.[13] According to the letter, Cartier desired as an Orthodox priest to undertake missionary work among his fellow blacks. Due to the fact that the jurisdiction over the Greek Church of the diaspora had been ceded by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Church of Greece in 1908, the request was forwarded there. However according to Greek-American historian Paul G. Manolis, a search of the Archives of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece did not turn up any correspondence with Fr. Raphael. His letter about A.C.V. Cartier is the only indication we have from Church records of his missionary efforts among his people.[10]

In 1909, his wife filed for divorce, on the alleged charges of cruelty, infidelity and failure to support their children. She left with their son Cyril to Delaware County, where she remarried.

Monastic Tonsure

In 1911 Fr. Raphael sailed to Cyprus, presumably to be tonsured a hieromonk. Possibly somewhere around this time, he founded the Order of the Cross of Golgotha (O.C.G.).[note 2] However, Fr. Oliver Herbel (AOC) has suggested that in 1911 Fr. Raphael was tonsured in Athens.[14] As is noted above however, the Archives of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece contain no information about Fr. Raphael.

Lecture Tour in Jamaica

The Jamaica Times article of April 26, 1913, wrote that Fr. Raphael was headquartered at Philadelphia where he wanted to build a chapel for his missionary efforts, that he had recently visited Europe to collect funds to this end, and had the intention of extending his work to the West Indies.[15]

Near the end of 1913, Fr. Raphael visited his homeland of Jamaica, staying for several months until sometime the next year. While there, he met a group of Syrians, who were complaining of a lack of Orthodox churches on the island. Fr. Raphael did his best to contact the Syrian-American diocese of the Russian church, writing to St Raphael of Brooklyn, but as most of their descendants are now communicants in the Episcopal Church, this presumably came to no avail. In December, a Russian warship came to port, and he concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with the sailors, their chaplain, and his new-found Syrians.

The main work of his visit, however, was a lecture circuit that he ran throughout Jamaica. Citing a lack of Orthodox churches, Fr. Raphael would speak at churches of various denomination. The topics would usually cover his travels, the Holy Land, and Holy Orthodoxy. At some point, he even made it to his hometown of Chapelton, to whom he remarked of his name change, "I will always be Robert to you".[16]

According to the Daily Gleaner edition of November 2, 1914, Fr. Raphael had just set sail back for America to start mission work under his Faith.[note 15]

Last Known Records

In 1916 Fr. Raphael was still in Philadelphia, having made the Philadelphia Greek parish his base of operations.[17] The last documentation of Fr. Raphael comes from a letter to the Daily Gleaner on October 4, 1916. Representing a group of about a dozen other like-minded Jamaican-Americans, he wrote in to protest the lectures of Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey.[note 16] Garvey's views on Jamaica, they felt, were damaging to both the reputation of their homeland and its people, enumerating several objections to Garvey's stated preference for the prejudice of the American whites over that of English whites.[9] Garvey's response came ten days later, in which he called the letter a conspiratorial fabrication meant to undermine the success and favour he had gained while in Jamaica and in the United States.

Little is known of Fr. Raphael's life after this point, except from some interviews conducted in the 1970s between Greek-American historian Paul G. Manolis and surviving members of the Greek Community of the Annunciation/Evangelismos in Philadelphia, who recalled the black priest who was evidently a part of their community for a period of time. One elderly woman, Grammatike Kritikos Sherwin, remembered that Fr Raphael's daughter left to attend Oxford; another parishioner, Kyriacos Biniaris, recalls that Morgan, whose hand "he kissed many times", spoke broken Greek and served with Fr. Petrides reciting the liturgy mostly in English; whilst another, a George Liacouras, recalled that after serving in Philadelphia for some years, Fr. Raphael left for Jerusalem, never to return.[note 17][10]

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has no record either of Fr. Raphael Morgan, nor of Fr. Demetrios Petrides, as the first records for the Philadelphia community in the archives only began in 1918.


"Indirect Conversion of Thousands" Theory

During the 16th Annual Ancient Christianity and African-American Conference in 2009, Matthew Namee presented a 23-minute lecture on the heretofore recently discovered life of Fr. Raphael Morgan. He postulated that even if Fr. Raphael's missionary efforts failed outside of his immediate family, he may be indirectly responsible for the conversion of thousands, via contact with Episcopal priest George Alexander McGuire (1866-1934).

Fr. Raphael and George McGuire

Rev. George Alexander McGuire, 7th Rector of The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas (1902–1905).

Namee questions whence the idea came for McGuire to form namely an Orthodox church. Fr. Raphael Morgan and George McGuire had some striking similarities, including the facts that both:

Namee concludes that with so many coincidences, it is impossible for these two men to not have known one another; and therefore it must be from some influence - either in conversation with Fr. Raphael or through evangelism - that McGuire received his inspiration and came to know the Orthodox Church.

An additional point is that Garvey already knew of Fr. Raphael when McGuire joined his organization in 1920 (since Fr. Raphael had written the letter in 1916 protesting Garvey's lectures), which makes it likely that McGuire and Garvey had discussed Morgan at some point.

One deterrent from this theory comes in the familiarity that McGuire had with the Orthodox Church by his consecrator, Joseph René Vilatte.[note 20] At various points, Vilatte come into contact with both the Russian and Syriac Orthodox Churches in a move for Catholic-Orthodox reconciliation, having even been accepted for a while by Bishop Vladimir of Alaska in May of 1891.

African Orthodox Church
George McGuire became an associate of Marcus Garvey and his Black Nationalist UNIA movement, being appointed the first Chaplain-General of the organization at its inaugural international convention in New York in August 1920. On September 28, 1921, he was made a bishop of the American Catholic Church by Joseph René Vilatte, and soon after founded the African Orthodox Church, a non-canonical Black Nationalist church, in the Anglican tradition. Today, it is best known for its canonisation of Jazz legend John Coltrane.

Bishop George McGuire soon spread his African Orthodox Church throughout the United States, and soon even made a presence on the African continent in such countries as Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Between 1924-1934 McGuire built the AOC into a thriving international church. Branches were eventually established in Canada, Barbados, Cuba, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Miami, Chicago, Harlem, Boston, Cambridge (Massachusetts), and elsewhere. The official organ of AOC, The Negro Churchman, became an effective link for the far-flung organization.[13] However, around the time of the Second World War, the African churches were cut off from the American and in the post-war period had drifted far enough way to request and come under the omophorion of the Church of Alexandria. Thus in 1946 the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa officially recognized and received the "African Orthodox Church" in Kenya and Uganda.[note 21]


Scholar Gavin White, writing in the 1970's, states that if Morgan tried to organize an African-American Greek Orthodox church in Philadelphia, its memory has vanished, and nothing whatsoever is known about Morgan in later years. However he hastens to add that:

"...there can be no doubt that McGuire knew all about Morgan and it is very probable that he knew him personally. It is just possible that it was Morgan who first introduced McGuire to the Episcopal Church in Wilmington; it was almost certainly Morgan who introduced McGuire to the idea of Eastern episcopacy.[5]

This concurs with Matthew Namee's conclusion above, that it was Fr. Raphael who was George Alexander McGuire's inspiration to form namely an "Orthodox" church. In time the African-based portion of McGuire's "African Orthodox Church" in Kenya and Uganda, eventually did end up under the canonical jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa in 1946. And although those two churches were already upon their own set path towards full canonical Orthodoxy, McGuire was an important part of that process at one stage, and Fr. Raphael Morgan in turn, was behind McGuire's inspiration to form an "Orthodox" church. In this regard, by planting the seed, it can be said that Fr. Raphael was also in some small measure, indirectly or incidentally, a part of that process in Africa as well.[note 22]

In the end, while Fr. Raphael Morgan's work among Jamaicans in Philadelphia appears to have been transitory, nevertheless he did serve as an important precedent for current African American interest in Orthodoxy,[note 23] especially that of Father Moses Berry, director of the Ozarks African American Heritage Museum, who served as the priest to the Theotokos, the “Unexpected Joy,” Orthodox Mission (OCA) in Ash Grove, Missouri.[9]

See also


  1. According to Fr. Raphael's biography in the Who's Who of the Colored Race, 1915, after he was ordained to the priesthood:
    "...at a special service he was duly commissioned Priest-Apostolic from the Ecumenical and Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople to America and the West Indies."
    (Mather, Frank Lincoln. Who's Who of the Colored Race: A General Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women of African Descent. University of Michigan. Gale Research Co., 1915. p.226.)
  2. 2.0 2.1 The "Order of...", could be any number of things including:
    1. an honorarium bestowed upon him for service done in the Church;
    2. an entitling which lets others know of his special mission in the Patriarchate/Diocese etc.;
    3. a Society of monastics which transcends, because of rare circumstances, physical location;
    4. it is also possible that this was a monastic brotherhood formed for Black Orthodox Christians, since Morgan was referred to as the “founder and superior” of that religious fraternity, although the formation of formal monastic orders is not traditionally practiced in the Orthodox tradition. The Orthodox Church does not have separate Orders (Franciscan, Carmelite etc.) each with an entirely independent rule/ethos of life.
    Despite being mentioned on many occasions in association with Morgan, no other material has ever been found on the Order of the Cross of Golgotha.
  3. It is possible that he academically audited the courses, attending the classes without receiving a formal grade.
  4. Fr. Raphael's name is given on a list of Black Episcopal ordinations as follows: "1895: Robert Josias Morgan, d. June 20, Coleman; deposed; went abroad and was made a priest in Greek Church." (Bragg, Rev. George F. (D.D.). Chapter XXXVI: Negro Ordinations from 1866 to the Present. In: History of the Afro-American group of the Episcopal church (1922). Baltimore, Md.: Church Advocate Press, 1922. p.273.)
  5. St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church was established in 1886. The church once stood on West Church in Lincolnton. The property consisted of a church, a parsonage, and a building used as a school. The church was torn down during the 1970's. The church remained primarily black and was not integrated until 1979. (Jason L. Harpe. Lincoln County Revisited. Illustrated. Arcadia Publishing, 2003. pg.18.)
  6. The Church of the Crucifixion is the second-oldest African-American congregation in Pennsylvania (after the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, the oldest Black Episcopal congregation in the country), the sixth oldest in the country, and first Black parish formally admitted into union with Convention in 1847. A major Black cultural center in the late 19th and into the 20th Century, the Church of the Crucifixion played many key roles in African-American history for the City of Philadelphia and the country.
  7. The "American Catholic Church" (ACC) included the jurisdictions and groups which had come out of Joseph René Vilatte's Episcopal ministry or were under his oversight. Among them were French and English speaking constituencies, and Polish and Italian ordinariates. The ACC began on August 20, 1894, at a synod held in Cleveland, Ohio, where Polish-speaking parishes joined the jurisdiction of Bishop Vilatte, however the ACC was actually incorporated in July 1915.
  8. Upon Morgan's departure from Russia, he wrote a letter, which was reprinted in the October/November 1904 English supplement to the Vestnik (Russian Orthodox American Messenger), the official publication of the Russian Archdiocese in America. Here is the text of that letter:
    I, Robert Josias Morgan, a legally consecrated cleric of the American Episcopal Church, find it necessary to make it publicly known, that I am not a Bishop, as it was announced in some magazines and daily papers…
    … I am not a Bishop, but a legally consecrated deacon. I came to Russia in no way to represent anything, and I was not sent by anybody. I came as a simple tourist, chiefly with the object to see the churches and the monasteries of this country, to enjoy the ritual and the service of the holy Orthodox Church, about which I heard so much abroad. And I am perfectly satisfied with everything I saw and witnessed.
    The piety and the fear of God amongst the Russian clergy, both superior and lower, and of the lay people in general are too great to be spoken of. I like Russia, and as to the people I have simply grown to love them for their gentleness, their politeness, their amiability and kindness. It would seem as if the Christian religion penetrated the whole life of the people. This can be observed both in the private home life and the social life. You have but to go to Church in this country, and you immediately see, that there is nothing too valuable for the people to be offered to God. Note how they pray, how patiently they stand through the long Church services…
    Now, having spent here about a month, I leave your country with a feeling of profound gratitude and take back to North America all the good impressions I received here. And when there I shall speak boldly and loudly about the brotherly feelings entertained here in the bosom of the holy Orthodox Church towards its Anglican sister of North America, and about the prayers which are offered here daily for the union of all the Catholic Christendom.
    My constant humble prayer is for the union of all Churches, and especially the union of the Anglican faith with the Orthodox Church of Russia. I solicited the Metropolitans and the Bishops to grant me their blessing in regard to this prayer and obtained it. Now I pray daily and eagerly for a better mutual understanding between the character and their union. God grant a blessing to this cause and a hearing to our prayers and supplications. Let us solicit the prayers of the Saints. Let us seek the intercession of the holy Mother of God. Virgin Mary, pray for us!
    In conclusion I must say, that my stay in Russia did me personally much good: I feel now firmer and stronger spiritually than I did before I came.
    God bless the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of this country! God bless the Emperor and all the reigning family! God grant them a long life, peace and prosperity!
    I am sincerely yours in God and in the name of Mary,
    Robert Josias Morgan.
    (Matthew Namee. "Robert Josias Morgan visits Russia, 1904." OrthodoxHistory.org (The Society for Orthodox Chrisitan History in the Americas). September 15, 2009.)
  9. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on January 8, 1906, that “Rev. R.J. Morgan of the American Catholic Church, an off-shoot of the Protestant Episcopal Church, assisted.”
  10. Summaries of the two letters are given in the Synodal Minutes of 19 July, 1907, presided over by Patriarch Joachim III, who introduced the subject of Morgan's baptism and ordination. As is stated in the second letter, Morgan's goal was to establish an Orthodox community of Blacks ( "...να πηξη ιδιαν ορθοδοξον κοινοτητα μεταξυ των εν Αμερικη ομοφυλων αυτου Νιγρητων..." ).
  11. The Patriarchal Monastery at Valoukli is where the cemetery with the graves of the Patriarchs is found.
  12. In a letter from the Chief Archivist of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, dated April 4, 1973, it was confirmed that the records of the Patriarchate show that Morgan was baptized and renamed "Raphael". (Manolis, Paul G. Raphael (Robert) Morgan: The First Black Orthodox Priest in America. Theologia: Epistēmonikon Periodikon Ekdidomenon Kata Trimēnian. (En Athenais: Vraveion Akadēmias Athēnōn), 1981, vol.52, no.3, pp.467.)
  13. A.C.V. Cartier was ordained to the Episcopal deaconate by Bishop Charles Quintard in 1895, and ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in the same year by Bishop Quintard. (Bragg, Rev. George F. (D.D.). Chapter XXXVI: Negro Ordinations from 1866 to the Present. In: History of the Afro-American group of the Episcopal church (1922). Baltimore, Md.: Church Advocate Press, 1922. p.273.)
  14. George Alexander McGuire was rector of The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia from 1902-05. He was succeeded as rector by A.C.V. Cartier (1906-12), the man whom Morgan recommended to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Orthodox ordination.
  15. "Father Raphael, Priest of the Greek Orthodox Church, who has been in the island for some time, sailed for America last week. It is understood that he will return shortly to his native land and start mission work under his Faith. As is well known, the seat of the Greek Church to which father Raphael belongs is not far from the theatre of war, so there is no hope of the Father returning to his Mother Church in a hurry. Father Raphael is a native of Clarendon." (The Daily Gleaner. November 2, 1914. p.13.)
  16. Fr. Raphael signed the letter as "Father Raphael, O.C.G., Priest-Apostolic, the Greek-Orthodox Catholic Church." Other signatories included: Dr. Uriah Smith, Ernest P. Duncan, Ernest R. Jones, H.S. Boulin, Phillip Hemmings, Joseph Vassal, Henry H. Harper, S.C. Box, Aldred Campbell, Hubert Barclay, John Moore, Victor Monroe, Henry Booth, and many others. The full text of the signed letter is printed in:
    Robert A. Hill, Marcus Garvey, Universal Negro Improvement Association. Letter Denouncing Marcus Garvey. In: The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers: 1826-August 1919. University of California Press, 1983. pp.196-197.
  17. If this is true, one possibility is that Fr. Raphael remained with the monastic Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.
  18. St. Philip’s Episcopal Church of Richmond, Virginia lists Morgan as having been the rector of their parish for a short time in 1901. He is listed as the rector from “1901-April 1901.” Morgan’s predecessor at St. Philip’s was a certain “Reverend George Alexander McQuire,” who served the parish from April 1898 to November 1900.
  19. Rev. Morgan was ordained to the Episcopal deaconate on June 20, 1895, by Bishop Leighton Coleman. George McGuire was ordained to the Episcopal deaconate on June 29, 1896 by Bishop Boyd Vincent, and to the Episcopal priesthood in 1897 by the same. (Bragg, Rev. George F. (D.D.). Chapter XXXVI: Negro Ordinations from 1866 to the Present. In: History of the Afro-American group of the Episcopal church (1922). Baltimore, Md.: Church Advocate Press, 1922. p.273.)
  20. In his quest to obtain valid Apostolic Orders, Fr. McGuire had himself re-ordained Bishop in the American Catholic Church, being consecrated on September 28, 1921, in Chicago, Illinois, by Archbishop Joseph René Vilatte, assisted by bishop Carl A. Nybladh who had been consecrated by Vilatte. However the Orthodox Church considers Villate to be an Episcopi vagantes.
  21. These became the Archdiocese of Kenya, and the Archdiocese of Kampala and All Uganda.
  22. Orthodoxy in East Africa had a rather unique origin as it was not the result of missionary evangelism, nor was it originally inspired by European/White introduction. Orthodox Christianity was unlike all other denominations, appealling to East Africans, such as the Kikuyus, especially because it was never associated with racism, colonialism or religious imperialism. (Metropolitan Makarios (Tillyrides) of Kenya. The Origin of Orthodoxy in East Africa.)
  23. As one historian has commented: "There seems to be some traction between historical Orthodoxy and African Christianity, rediscovered by African American intellectuals like Fr. Raphael Morgan and Professor Raboteau. The African American tradition in the Orthodox Church is obviously an exception to the rule. Consider Raboteau's colleague at Princeton, Cornell West, who has most eloquently addressed Constantinian Christianity in his Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight against Imperialism (2004). For West and other liberal intellectuals, Orthodoxy's historical connections with empire (Byzantium) and state (modern nationalism) is a major turn-off. But for other intellectuals that have arrived to Orthodoxy through Anglicanism/Episcopalianism, the Orthodox tradition is softer and philosophically fundamental." (Kourelis, Kostis. "Philadelphia Greeks and Their Black Priest." Objects-Building-Situation: Musings on Architecture, Art and History, with Special Focus on Mediterranean Archaeology. Thursday, October 29, 2009.)


  1. Robert A. Hill, Marcus Garvey, Universal Negro Improvement Association. Letter Denouncing Marcus Garvey. In: The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers: 1826-August 1919. University of California Press, 1983. pg.197.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Mather, Frank Lincoln. Who's Who of the Colored Race: A General Biographical Dictionary of Men and Women of African Descent. University of Michigan. Gale Research Co., 1915. pp.226-227.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Daily Gleaner. West Africa. October 9, 1901. p.7.
  4. The New York Times. Bishop Coleman of Delaware Dies. Sunday December 15, 1907. Page 13. (Obituary)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 White, Gavin. Patriarch McGuire and the Episcopal Church. In: Randall K. Burkett and Richard Newman (Eds.). Black Apostles: Afro-American Clergy Confront the Twentieth Century. G. K. Hall, 1978. pp.151-180.
  6. Lumsden, Joy, MA (Cantab), PhD (UWI). Father Raphael: His Background and Career. September 29, 2007.
  7. The Daily Gleaner. Port Maria: A Lecture. October 7, 1902. p.29.
  8. The Daily Gleaner. Priest's Visit: Father Raphael of Greek Orthodox Church: His Extensive Travels. July 22, 1913.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Fr. Oliver Herbel. Morgan, Raphael. The African American National Biography at mywire.com. 1-Jan-2008.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Manolis, Paul G. Raphael (Robert) Morgan: The First Black Orthodox Priest in America. Theologia: Epistēmonikon Periodikon Ekdidomenon Kata Trimēnian. (En Athenais: Vraveion Akadēmias Athēnōn), 1981, vol.52, no.3, pp.464-480.
  11. Une Conquete du Patriarcat Oecumenique. Echos d'Orient . Vol. XI. No.68, 1908, pp.55-56.
  12. Lumsden, Joy. Robert Josias Morgan, aka Father Raphael. Jamaican History Month 2007. February 16, 2007.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Tony Martin. McGuire, George Alexander. Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. Volume 2. Cary D. Wintz, Paul Finkelman (Eds.). Taylor & Francis, 2004. p.776.
  14. Fr. Oliver Herbel (AOC). Jurisdictional Disunity and the Russian Mission. Orthodox Christians for Accountability. April 22, 2009.
  15. The Jamaica Times. Only Negro Who is a Greek Priest. April 26, 1913.
  16. The Daily Gleaner. Gives Lecture. Fr. Raphael Talks of His Travels Abroad. August 15, 1913.
  17. Namee, Matthew. The First Black Orthodox Priest in America. OrthodoxHistory.org (The Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas). July 15, 2009.

External Links


Contemporary Sources

(Publication of the Roman Catholic Uniate Assumptionist Fathers, located in Chalcedon; for an online translation of the French article, see: Fr. Andrew S. Damick. "The Sorcerer on the Golden Horn." OrthodoxHistory.org (The Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas). December 15, 2009.)
  • Work, Monroe N., (Ed.). The Negro Yearbook, an Annual Encyclopedia of the Negro, 1921-1922. The Negro Year Book Publishing Company: Tuskegee Institute, 1922. (1921 edition, p.213.)

Modern Sources