Last month we were pleased to welcome nearly 40 home school children and their parents.
With this first group of the year we looked at the inspirational story of the Pilgrim Fathers. These were the Separatist Puritans, who wanted “Reformation without tarrying for any,” in the closing years of the 16th century and early years of the 17th century. These were the families who broke away from the Established Church, and founded their own churches according to the pattern as they saw it defined in Scripture. They faced harassment, fines, confiscation of goods, and imprisonment in order to follow the dictates of their consciences.
Facing enormous and continued difficulties they decided to flee to Holland; this first migration itself being frought with a multitude of problems and setbacks which required a high degree of faith and courage to undertake. Their greater venture of faith was their voyage to New England in 1620 on board the famous Mayflower. This historic voyage involved not only great financial risk, but a long, arduous and difficult sea voyage that had cost the lives of many who had ventured to do so before them. It turned out to be a voyage of 66 days, in the Autumn, with winter fast approaching, and great uncertainty in regard to their survival, if and when, they finally arrived, “on that wild New England shore“.
As it was, all the Pilgrims arrived safely, with one extra passenger at the end of the voyage than at the beginning; Oceanus Hopkins was born in mid-Atlantic.
We noted also the signing of the Mayflower Covenant, or Compact, by all the men who sailed in the vessel. This document became the first truly democratic constitution drawn up and signed in the modern world.
We sought to impress upon the children, five important points which characterized these people: they trusted in God; they believed God’s Word the Bible; they stayed faithful even when things were difficult; God provided for them; and they thanked God for his providential care.
The day ended with the singing of an adapted version of Mrs. Heman’s well-known poem, ‘The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers’, to the tune of ‘A Little Ship was on the Sea’, the last verse summing up something of the message of the Pilgrim Fathers…
Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod!
They have left unstain’d what there they found, –
Freedom to worship God!