14 Feb 2023

SAU President Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail makes history as the first sitting HBCU president selected to preach for Washington National Cathedral’s HBCU Sunday

Saint Augustine University (SAU) President Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail makes history as the first Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) president selected to preach for the Washington Cathedral’s fourth annual Holy Eucharist & Annual HBCU Welcome Sunday. The service is on February 19, 2023, in Washington, DC.

“HBCU history is black history,” said SAU President Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail. “I am honored to blaze a trail that elevates the relevance of HBCUs today.”

SAU, founded in 1867 by the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, is one of two HBCUs affiliated with The Episcopal Church and is the oldest and largest Episcopal HBCU. In addition, with an enrollment of approximately 1,100 students and 11,000 living alums, SAU also ranks among The Episcopal Church’s largest Black institutions in the nation.

“In the legacy of SAU alumni and former leaders such as Anna Julia Cooper, Bishop Henry Beard Delaney, John Hope Franklin and so many others, Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail has led the University into an increasingly dynamic and generative partnership with The Episcopal Church,” said The Rev. Hershey Mallette Stephens, SAU’s Dean of The Chapel & Spiritual Life. “As the leader of the largest Black institution affiliated with The Episcopal Church in the United States, it is appropriate and exciting to have Dr. McPhail preach at the Washington National Cathedral, the nation’s church, on this HBCU Sunday. I look forward to bringing a delegation of Chapel students again this year to DC for this beautiful tradition.”

The Washington National Cathedral, also affiliated with The Episcopal Church, began its construction when President Theodore Roosevelt helped lay the foundation stone in 1907, forty years after SAU’s founding. The Cathedral has hosted state funerals, memorial services for US Presidents, and presidential prayer services for inaugurations. In addition, The Cathedral has hosted numerous historical events, such as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final Sunday sermon before his assassination in 1968.

This weekend, The Washington National Cathedral’s Holy Eucharist & Annual HBCU Welcome Sunday welcomes alums, organizations, families, and communities representing the HBCUs as part of Black History Month. The service includes music and prayers celebrating HBCUs with the choir of Bowie State University, Maryland’s oldest HBCU, joining the Cathedral musicians.

Before joining SAU, Dr. McPhail served as President and CEO of the McPhail Group, LLC, and was a nationally recognized thought leader in higher education. She is the founding professor and director of the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program at Morgan State University. In addition, Dr. McPhail is the former president of Cypress College in California. Since her arrival at SAU in 2021, Dr. McPhail’s impact as the university’s leader includes a 10-year high in Fall Enrollment, record-breaking alum giving, and an outpour of federal funding to cover student account balances, preserving and repurposing historical buildings, expanding broadband access, and reopen campus and community educational centers. In addition, Dr. McPhail’s administration has expanded educational access to students in communities with no HBCUs and leveraged university assets to diversify its sources of revenue.

This service will stream on the Washington Cathedral’s Holy Eucharist page and their YouTube channel.

Click here for more information about Washington Cathedral’s fourth annual Holy Eucharist & Annual HBCU Welcome Sunday.