According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers

The Landing of the Pilgrims, December 1620


The breaking waves dashed high
On a stern and rock-bound coast,
And the woods against a stormy sky
Their giant branches tossed;

And the heavy night hung dark,
The hills and waters o'er,
When a band of exiles moored their bark
On the wild New England shore.

Not as the conqueror comes,
They, the true-hearted came;
Not with the roll of the stirring drums,
And the trumpet that sings of fame;

Not as the flying come,
In silence and in fear;
They shook the depths of the desert gloom
With their hymns of lofty cheer.

Amidst the storm they sang,
And the stars heard, and the sea;
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang
To the anthem of the free.

The ocean eagle soared
From his nest by the white wave's foam;
And the rocking pines of the forest roared -
This was their welcome home.

There were men with hoary hair
Amidst the pilgrim band:
Why had they come to wither there,
Away from their childhood's land?

There was woman's fearless eye,
Lit by her deep love's truth;
There was manhood's brow, serenely high,
And the fiery heart of youth.

What sought they thus afar?
Bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?
They sought a faith's pure shrine!

Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod;
They have left unstained what there they found -
Freedom to worship God.

by Felicia Dorethea Hemans (c.1793-1835)

"Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers" is reprinted from Historic Poems and Ballads.
Ed. Rupert S. Holland. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co., 1912.

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The Pilgrims

The pilgrims were a group of English protestant “Separatists” who first sought freedom from religious persecution by the Church of England by moving to Leiden, Holland, and about ten years later by relocating to North America where they hoped to establish a colony in Northern Virginia. They were joined on their journey across the Atlantic by other English families and individuals, not Separatists, many of whom had skills and trades needed by the pilgrims to establish a colony, and who were themselves simply seeking the opportunity for a better life.

The Voyage

The Pilgrims engaged two aging sailing vessels, the Mayflower and the Speedwell to transport them with their supplies to Northern Virginia, where they had obtained a charter from the English king. The group left Southampton England in August 1620, but were forced to return to port after the Speedwell proved to be unseaworthy. One hundred and two passengers then crowded aboard the Mayflower in September 1620 and set out again, having to leave a number of their fellow pilgrims and vital supplies in England. The crossing was slower than expected and the Mayflower was driven off course and arrived far north of their Northern Virginia destination in November 1620, at the start of a harsh winter. The pilgrims decided that further travel to Northern Virgina at that time of year was dangerous and unwise, and began exploring Cape Cod seeking a safe harbor and suitable place to establish their colony.

The Mayflower Compact

Before leaving the Mayflower, the pilgrims and the other voyagers, drafted and all signed a document that established the legal and political structure of the new colony. That historic document is considered to be the first to set forth the democratic self governance principles on which the the United States Constitution was based a century and a half later, and is known as the Mayflower Compact:

Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth : 1620
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.
IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.
Mr. John Carver
Mr. William Bradford
Mr Edward Winslow
Mr. William Brewster
Isaac Allerton
Myles Standish
John Alden
John Turner
Francis Eaton
James Chilton
John Craxton
John Billington
Moses Fletcher
John Goodman
Mr. Samuel Fuller
Mr. Christopher Martin
Mr. William Mullins
Mr. William White
Mr. Richard Warren
John Howland
Mr. Steven Hopkins
Digery Priest
Thomas Williams
Gilbert Winslow
Edmund Margesson
Peter Brown
Richard Britteridge
George Soule
Edward Tilly
John Tilly
Francis Cooke
Thomas Rogers
Thomas Tinker
John Ridgdale
Edward Fuller
Richard Clark
Richard Gardiner
Mr. John Allerton
Thomas English
Edward Doten
Edward Liester

Plymouth Colony

The pilgrims selected a site on the western shore of Cape Cod in Massachusetts which they named Plymouth and where they established their colony. During that first winter, 46 of the 102 colonists died from the severe cold plus an influenza type of illness known as the “great sickness”, and left the remaining colonists weakened and without adequate food and supplies. During the spring of 1621, however, members of the peaceful native Wampanoags tribe, helped the colonists to adapt and grow enough food to survive. Although the colonists struggled and endured hardships for the first few years at Plymouth, they prevailed and established the first permanent colony in New England.

The First Thanksgiving

At the time of the fall harvest in 1621, Massasoit, the great sachem of the Wampanoag tribe and 90 of his people arrived with meat, fowl, fish and crops and helped the pilgrims prepare for the upcoming winter. The pilgrims and the Wampanoags joined together for a great three day harvest feast and a time of thanksgiving for the blessings bestowed on them. Almost two and a half centuries later in 1863, during the American Civil War, President Lincoln, who was urged to follow the tradition of the pilgrims' first thanksgiving, proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. This tradition was followed by every succeeding president, until Congress in 1941 established Thanksgiving as an official national holiday.

Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts


T h e   P i l g r i m s

During the middle of the sixteenth century the social condition of the people of England was very primitive, and life was hard. Poor people lived in cottages built of wooden frames filled in with dirt; their houses were without wooden floors; and in many of them the fireplaces were constructed in the middle of the rooms with no chimneys, a hole being left in the roof for the smoke to escape. The windows were not glazed, and were closed against the weather, and the light was allowed to enter by means of oiled paper. Such was the plain condition of the houses of the Puritans of New England.

Very few vegetables were cultivated, as gardening had not yet become popular. The common material for bread was flour of oats, rye, and barley; and sometimes, when these were scarce, they were mixed with ground acorns. Even this black bread was sometimes not available, and meat was the principal diet. Their forks and ploughs were made of wood, and these, with a hoe and spade, constituted the bulk of their agricultural implements. Their spoons and platters were made chiefly of wood, and forks were unknown. It is said that glazed windows were so scarce, and regarded as so much of a luxury, that noblemen, when they left their country-houses to go to court, had their glazed windows packed away carefully with other precious furniture.

The non-conformist English refugees in Holland under the pastorate of Rev. Mr. Robinson, yearning for a secluded asylum from persecution under the English government, proposed to go to Virginia and settle there in a distinct body under the general government of that colony. They sent Robert Cushman and John Carver to England in 1617 to treat with the London Company, and to ascertain whether the King would grant them liberty of conscience in that distant country. The company were anxious to have these people settle in Virginia, and offered them ample privileges, but the King would not promise not to molest them. These agents returned to Leyden. The discouraged refugees sent other agents to England in February, 1619, and finally made an arrangement with the company and with London merchants and others for their settlement in Virginia, and they at once prepared for the memorable voyage on the Mayflower in 1620. Several of the congregation at Leyden sold their estates and made a common bank, which, with the aid of their London partners, enabled them to purchase the Speedwell, a ship of 60 tons, and to hire in England the Mayflower, a ship of 180 tons, for the intended voyage. They left Delft Haven for England in the Speedwell (July, 1620), and in August sailed from Southampton, but, on account of the leakiness of the ship, were twice compelled to return to port. Dismissing this unseaworthy vessel, 101 of the number who came from Leyden sailed on the Mayflower on September 6.

Delft Haven
Delft Haven

The following are the names of the forty-one persons who signed the constitution of government on board the Mayflower, and are known as the Pilgrim Fathers: John Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, William Brewster, Isaac Allerton, Myles Standish, John Alden, Samuel Fuller, Christopher Martin, William Mullins, William 'White, Richard Warren, John Howland, Stephen Hopkins, Edward Tilley, John Tilley, Francis Cook, Thomas Rogers, Thomas Tinker, John Ridgedale, Edward Fuller, John Turner, Francis Eaton, James Chilton, John Crackston, John Billington, Moses Fletcher, John Goodman, Degory Priest, Thomas Williams, Gilbert Winslow, Edward Margeson, Peter Brown, Richard Britteridge, George Soule, Richard Clarke, Richard Gardiner, John Allerton, Thomas English, Edward Doty, Edward Lister. Each subscriber placed opposite his name the number of his family.

Pilgrims Signing Mayflower Compact
Pilgrim's Signing the Mayflower Compact

The following is the text of the agreement which was signed on the lid of Elder Brewster's chest (see BREWSTER, WILLIAM).
"In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are hereunto written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc., having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitution, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names, at Cape Cod, the 11th of November [0. S.], in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini 1620."

The Mayflower first anchored in Cape Cod Bay, just within the cape, on November 21, in what is now the harbor of Provincetown, the only windward port for many a league where the vessel could have safely stayed. Nearly all the company went ashore, glad to touch land after the long voyage. They first fell on their knees, and thanked God for the preservation of their lives. The waters were shallow, and they had waded ashore—the men to explore the country, the women to wash their clothes after the long voyage.

The spot chosen by a party of explorers for the permanent landing-place of the passengers on the Mayflower was selected about Dec. 20, 1620, where New Plymouth was built. From about the middle of December until the 25th the weather was stormy, and the bulk of the passengers remained on the ship, while some of the men built a rude shelter to receive them. On the 25th a greater portion of the passengers went on shore to visit the spot chosen for their residence, when, tradition says, Mary Chilton and John Alden, both young persons, first sprang upon Plymouth Rock from the boat that conveyed them.

Plymouth Bay MapMost of the women and children remained on board the Mayflower until suitable log huts were erected for their reception, and it was March 21, 1621, before they were all landed. Those on shore were exposed to the rigors of winter weather and insufficient food, though the winter was a comparatively mild one. Those on the ship were confined in foul air, with unwholesome food. Scurvy and other diseases appeared among them, and when, late in March, the last passenger landed from the Mayflower, nearly one-half the colonists were dead.

The lands of the Plymouth Colony were held in common by the "Pilgrims" and their partners, the London merchants. In 1627 the "Pilgrims" sent Isaac Allerton to England to negotiate for the purchase of the shares of the London adventurers, with their stock, merchandise, lands, and chattels. He did so for $9,000, payable in nine years in equal annual installments. Some of the principal persons of the colony became bound for the rest, and a partnership was formed, into which was admitted the head of every family, and every young man of age and prudence. It was agreed that every single free-man should have one share; and every father of a family have leave to purchase one share for himself, one for his wife, and one for every child living with him; that every one should pay his part of the public debt according to the number of his shares. To every share twenty acres of arable land were assigned by lot; to every six shares, one cow and two goats, and swine in the same proportion. This agreement was made in full court, Jan. 3, 1628. The joint-stock or community system was then abandoned, a division of the movable property was made, and twenty acres of land nearest to the town were assigned in fee to each colonist. (See PLYMOUTH, NEW.)
Pilgrims Landin Plymouth Rock
Pilgrims Landing in the New World

Gov. WILLIAM BRADFORD wrote a History of the Plymouth Plantation, of which the following is an extract: This was written in a form of old English, so spelling and sentence structure may appear awkward today.

The Pilgrims' Arrival at Cape Cod.—Being thus arived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees & blessed ye God of heaven, who had brought them over ye vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all ye periles & miseries thereof, againe to set their feete on ye firme and stable earth, their proper elemente. And no marvell if they were thus joyefull, seeing wise Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on ye coast of his owne Italy; as he affirmed, that he had rather remaine twentie years on his way by land, then pass by sea to any place in a short time; so tedious & dreadful was ye same unto him.

But hear I cannot but stay and make a pause, and stand half amased at this poore peoples presente condition; and so I thinke will the reader too, when he well considers ye same. Being thus passed ye vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembered by yt which wente before), they had now no friends to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weather-beaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for suecoure. It is recorded in scripture as a mercie to ye apostle & his shipwraked company, yt the barbarians shewed them no smale kindnes in refreshing them, but these savage barbarians, when they mette with them (as after will appeare) were readier to fill their sids full of arrows then otherwise. And for ye season it was winter, and they that know ye winters of yt cuntrie know them to be sharp & violent, & subjecte to cruell & feirce stormes, deangerous to travill to known places, much more to serch an unknown coast. Besids, what could they see but a hidious & desolate wildernes, full of wild beasts & willd men ? and what multituds ti r might be of them they knew not. Nether could they, as it were, goe up to ye tope of Pisgah, to vew from this willdernes a more goodly cuntrie to feed their hops; for which way soever they turned their eys (save upward to ye heavens) they could have litle solace or content in respecte of any outward objects. For sumer being done, all things stand upon them with a weatherbeaten face; and ye whole countrie, full of woods & thickets, represented a wild & savage heiw. If they looked behind them; ther was ye mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a maine barr & goulfe to seperate themfrom all ye civill parts of ye world. If it be said they had a ship to sucour them, it is trew; but what heard they daly from ye mr. & company? but yt with speede they should looke out a place with their shallop, wher they would be at some near distance; for ye season was shuck as he would not stirr from thence till a safe harbor was discovered by them wher they would be, and he might goe without danger; and that victells consumed apace, but he must & would keepe sufficient for them selves & their returne. Yea, it was muttered by some, that if they gott not a place in time, they would turne them & their goods ashore & leave them. Let it also be considered what weake hopes of supply & succoure they left behinde them, yt might bear up their minds in this sade condition and trialls they were under ; and they could not but be very smale. It is true, indeed, ye affections & love of their brethren at Leyden was cordiall & entire towards them, but they had litle power to help them, or them selves; and how ye case stode betweene them & ye marchants at their coming away, bath allready been declared. What could now sustaine them but ye spirite of God & his grace? May not & ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our faithers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this w-illdernes; but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie, &c. Let them therefore praise ye Lord, because he is good, & his mercies endure for ever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of ye Lord, spew how he hath delivered them from ye hand of ye oppressour. When they 'wandered in ye deserte wilddernes out of ye way, and found no citie to dwell in, both hungrie. & thirstie, their sowle was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before ye Lord his loving kindnes, and his wonderful works before ye sons of men.

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For More Information on the
Pilgrim's Mayflower Compact, c.1620


For More Information on the
Discovery and Settlement of America


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