On this day in 1607

On this day in 1607 English settlers founded the first Anglican (later Episcopalian) parish in America at Jamestown, Virginia. Under a sail used for protection, Reverand Robert Hunt held the first Holy Communion. The worshipers sat on fallen tree trunks.

Captain John Smith wrote:

Now because I have spoke so much of the body, give me leave to say something of the soul, and the rather because I have been often demanded by so many how we began to preach the Gospel in Virginia, and by what authority, what churches we had, our order of service, and maintenance of our ministers, therefore I think it not amiss to satisfy their demands, it being the mother of all our plantations…

When I first went to Virginia, I well remember, we did hang an awning (which is an old sail) to three or four trees to shadow us from the sun, our walls were rails of wood, our seats unhewed trees till we cut planks; our pulpit a bar of wood nailed to two neighboring trees; in foul weather we shifted into an old rotten tent, for we had few better…

This was our church, till we built a homely thing like a barn, set upon cratchets, covered with rafts, sedge and earth; so was also the walls; the best of our houses (were) of the like curiosity, but the most part far much worse workmanship, that neither could well defend wind nor rain, yet we had daily Common Prayer morning and evening, every Sunday two sermons, and every three months the holy Communion, till our minister died. But our prayers daily with an homily on Sundays, we continued two or three years after, till more preachers came.

Read more about the Church at Jamestown.

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