Thursday, March 08, 2007

Episcopalians and the New World
The Episcopal church gets ready to celebrate its 400th anniversary in America.

by Mark D. Tooley

On May 17, 1607, English settlers landed on Jamestown Island in Virginia and created what would be the first permanent British colony. An Anglican clergyman led them in prayers of thanksgiving and in constructing the first permanent Protestant church in the Western hemisphere.

In two months, the 400th anniversary of this event will be celebrated. The Episcopal Church, as the spiritual descendants of the original Jamestown colony, is participating, although perhaps with some hesitation. Fifteen years ago, the quincentenary of Christopher Columbus's voyage to America was marred by controversy, with groups such as the National Council of Churches denouncing the celebration of "genocide" against the native peoples of America.

The Episcopal Church often embodies religious liberal chic, but it's still also capable of tasteful reflection. A series of Episcopal Church bulletin inserts about the Jamestown commemoration provided to local Episcopal congregations have provided a mostly straightforward history. They recount that the church at Jamestown "helped to form American Episcopalians' commitment to common prayer and Anglican 'comprehensive' theology--and a resilience of faith and mission that has been strengthened by the challenges of the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the civil rights achievements of more recent years."
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