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(WBIR) The Union of Black Episcopalians, or UBE, celebrated on Sunday the life of the man who helped give them their religious freedom. Reverend Absalom Jones rose from slavery to become the first African-American priest in the Episcopal Church.

The Reverend Absalom Jones was a man who escaped slavery in 1784 to further his faith.

"He was the first African american priest to be ordained back in the 1700s. And the work that he did by evangelizing hundreds and hundreds of African-Americans," said Michael Moore, president of UBE in East Tennessee chapter.

People from around the region showed up at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension for this celebration of Jones' life through prayer and traditional African-American hymns.

"We hope people can understand we are not simply a white, but we are very diverse in terms of a lot of things," said Bishop George Young of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee.

The UBE created this service last year around the same time. And hundreds attended.

Moore hopes to keep growing this celebration.

Reverend Dennis Patterson Jr. gave the sermon at Sunday's service. Patterson is from the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, Saint Luke's.

The UBE branch in East Tennessee was formed in 2011. It is part of a larger group, that has chapters in the U-S, Canada, Africa, and Latin America.

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