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THE PILGRIM FAITH WINDOW

THE ARREST AT PLUMMER'S HALL, WHICH FORCED THE SEPARATISTS TO SEEK A NEW LAND

EXILE IN HOLLAND

LANDING AT PLYMOUTH ROCK
PILGRIM FAMILIES ATTENDING CHURCH
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ADDRESSING THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS 1771 AD. EXHORTING THEM TO SEEK GUIDANCE OF GOD BEFORE CONTINUING THEIR DEBATES
GIVEN BY DR. WILLIAM P BURKE AS A MEMORIAL TO SARAH K BURKE

OUR PILGRIM HERITAGE

BY JUNE H FIFIELD

"On a voyage that captured the imagination of the world, a tiny square-rigger, Mayflower II, sailed across the Atlantic from England in 1957 to re-enact the landing of the Pilgrims on Massachusetts shores. With her she brought a fresh recollection of the spiritual debt Americans owe that courageous band of Congregationalists whom the new voyagers represented.

"Toy-like compared with today's ocean liners, the brave little bark was given a tumultuous welcome by thousands of grateful Americans. Most of them realized they had the Pilgrims to thank for this great republic, with its respect for the rights and dignity of the individual citizen; for freedom of worship, for vast educational resources and for ideals of God-centered righteousness.

"In striking contrast to the bleak-storm-battered land of privation the Pilgrims had faced, a land of plenty awaited the Mayflower II's thirty passengers as they debarked upon the shores of the most successfully self-governed nation in the world. After fifty-four days at sea, they were newly conscious of the grim hardships endured by their predecessors on the original Mayflower. Her decreit, unlit quarters had housed 102 Pilgrims whose hunger and misery were endurable only through their limitless faith in God and burning desire for religous freedom in a new land.

"When radio, television and the press flashed news of Mayflower II's arrival, Congregationalists took time to remember with humility the sacrifices of this courageous band, half of whom had died the first winter but who had first seen both civil and religious liberty established in New England. Many thought again of the Mayflower Compact, forerunner of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution's Bill of Rights, signed aboard ship as she rode anchor off Massachusetts' shores. With this document of mutual respect and cooperation, Plymouth Colony was soon formed, with Plymouth Church at its heart. Thus America's first Congregational church was dedicated to simplicity of worship, independence from ecclesiastical or governmental control and a deep, abiding faith in God. Thus began the ree and independent churches whose highest authority can be its lowliest member, churches ruled by their congregations and by no other authority than God Himself, as His will is made known through the life of Jesus Christ.

"What Pilgrim could dream that, from this simpe beginning, there would spring more than 5000 Congregational Christian churches whose tradition of independence is precious? What Congregationalist would not hope to protect and nurture this heritage of freedom, so dearly bought?

"What Pilgrim could dream that the preaching of Thomas Hooker, which found its way into the first state constitution, Connecticut's, would later influence the nation's constitution and come to govern 175,000,000 Americans.

"What Pilgrim, meeting to found the nation's first college, Harvard, could guess that other Congregationalists in years to come would give to America more than forty of its greatest educational institutions? These included Yale, Dartmouth, Andover, Bangor, Amherst, Yale Divinity, Oberlin, Mount Holyoke (America's first women's college), Knox, Smoith, Wellesley, Oliver, rinnel, Beloit, Chicago Theological, Tougaloo, Dorchester Academy, Pacific School of Religion, Carleton, Fisk, Tillorson, Pleasnt Hill, Defiance, Doane, Drury, Pomona, Elon, Illinois Marietta, Piedmont, Shauffler, Yankton and others.

"Five inspired college boys at Williams, seeking refuge from a thunder storm in 1806 burrowed into a haystack to continue a prayer group session which proved the beginning of American Protestantism's foreign mission enterprise and ended as the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, still carrying its work to the ends of the earth. Congregationalism's "Missionary Herald" is the oldest magazine of continuous circulation in America, dating from 1804.

"As missionaries went abroad, they also went West. The Yale band, twelve graduates of Yale Divinity School, set out, followed later by eleven fro Andover. Today, Congregationalism is in every state in the Union.

"The Congregationalists' record of anti-slavery and the founding of more than 500 schools in the South for negroes through the American Missionary Association is well known.

"Local associations, state conferences and the national council developed to promote fellowship and a sharing of purpose among the churches. Friendly cooperation and help where needed have been welcomed by Congregational Christian churches who nonetheless prize and safeguard their individual Pilgrim tradition of selfgovernment without authority from above.

"A recent observer said of Congregationalism, "It is flexible - warmly so." Only the ree can be flexible. It is this generation's responsibility to hold high the flame of freedom that future generations may inherit the long-cherished Pilgrim tradition of "faith, fellowship and freedom" that has made Congregationalism unique."

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