Mayflower 400th Anniversary
ALWYN YORK, CCCC HISTORIAN
2020 will bring the most important anniversary in Congregational history. On November 11, 2020 it will be 400 years since the Pilgrims arrived on the shores of Cape Cod. As biblical Congregationalists this anniversary has particular significance for us. It marks the beginning of our denomination’s history in America. This will be a wonderful occasion to remember and celebrate our heritage. The anniversary will provide an incentive for us to reflect upon what it means to be a Christian following the Congregational way. An intense commitment to follow Jesus Christ led the Pilgrims to make the hazardous journey across the Atlantic and found a new colony. As we claim to be their spiritual descendants, it will repay us to deepen our understanding of them as we seek to follow in their footsteps.
Of course the arrival of the Mayflower has wider significance than just being part of our denominational history. The Pilgrims had a foundational role in the history of our nation. Our national Thanksgiving holiday derives from the Pilgrims. Many different groups have a stake in the Mayflower 400th anniversary. You can find information on a variety of commemorations on the Plymouth 400th website. (http://www.plymouth400inc.org)
Resource Available from the Congregational Library
Because of the wealth of information about the Pilgrims that is available, the prospect of learning about the them can be intimidating. I am thankful that the Congregational Library in Boston has taken the lead in developing a useful resource specifically for churches to learn about the Pilgrims. On their website a historical introduction and discussion guide Plymouth’s Pilgrims: Their Church, Their World, and Ours is available for free download.(http://www.congregationallibrary.org/PlymouthPilgrims) It is organized into four units which would be well suited for a Sunday School class. A collection of historical documents to accompany each unit is also available, as well as suggestions for additional reading and a list of supplemental resources especially for youth and children. This resource would be a great place to start to learn about the Pilgrims.
I hope that the observance of the Mayflower 400th anniversary will be a source of renewal for our churches. I am planning a series of articles over the coming year to highlight some of the most helpful resources about our Pilgrim forebears.