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Jamestown Church, 400-year milestone featured in new bulletin insert
Next installment in four-part series available online

[Episcopal News Service]  The second of four parish bulletin inserts highlighting Episcopal Church history – and the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Colony and the beginnings of its original parish church -- has been posted online for use Sunday, December 3, or Sunday, December 10.

The full text of the series' second insert is reprinted below.

The series began on November 26 and continues for use through December 17.

The inserts may be downloaded and duplicated for insertion in parish bulletins. Available in English with translation to follow in Spanish, the first of these inserts is posted on the ENS website at

The series is titled "Looking Forward, Looking Back," and its four parts are:

* Episcopalians will mark 400-year milestone in new year
* Jamestown and Its Church: A Nation's First Parish
* The Colonial Period
* Virginia and Its Dioceses
The bulletin inserts are a joint project of the Episcopal News Service and the Episcopal Life newspaper.
The inserts will continue with a Christmastide message planned for December 24, and a sequence on ministries supporting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) beginning with the new year. The full, 10-part MDG series, designed for use from January 7 to March 11, will be posted online at one time in December.

The inserts are black-and-white and come in two formats: half of an 8.5" by 11" sheet double-sided and a full 8.5" by 11" one-sided (which will be available on Monday, November 13). The inserts are in PDF format so that may be downloaded for easy duplication and insertion into a congregation's service leaflet.

Text of newest insert:

Looking Forward, Looking Back
Jamestown and Its Church: A Nation's First Parish
Episcopalians join in preparations for marking 400th anniversary

Organized in 1607 as part of the emerging English colony, the Jamestown Church became the first Protestant congregation to endure in the New World — the parish to which the Episcopal Church traces its origins in the Americas. The 400th anniversary of these beginnings will be marked in spring 2007 with civic and religious observances, the advent of which invites Episcopalians to learn more about the history and heritage of their unique faith tradition.

This parish church 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.

The Jamestown Church today has a unique national "congregation" all its own, and among those engaged in local ministry is historical interpreter Anne J. Conkling, a local lay leader and expert docent at sites including nearby Williamsburg's Bruton Parish with origins dating from 1633.

At the Jamestown Church, Conkling does more than lead tours rich with insights about the early colonists and indigenous people, and the sanctuary's historic tower and origins. Indeed, she helps guide hundreds of visitors each year into deeper understanding of their own spiritual heritage. Sometimes these connections are made during prayers that Conkling is asked to lead on the historic site.

The church tower is the only 17th-century structure still standing in Jamestown, and the present Memorial Church building itself is a replica built in 1906 by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. The structure's footprint approximates the earlier churches' original foundations, parts of which are visible through floor panels of glass.

The first Jamestown church burned in 1608, and the second church, built of wood, was where Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married. A third church was the site in 1619 of the first representative legislature meeting in the New World, and the fourth church – featuring the present tower – burned in 1676 during Bacon's Rebellion. A fifth church was built a decade later but abandoned in the 1750s before falling to ruins. The tower stood as a quiet monument throughout the 19th century before the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) acquired the site in the 1890s and commenced significant restoration and archeological work (

Although weekly liturgical services were long ago assumed by neighboring Episcopal parishes, the Jamestown Church remains a significant center of spirituality, as Conkling observes as she interacts with the many visitors to the site. "Much," she said recently, "is exchanged in the questions and answers."

The Anglican rites at Jamestown should not be construed as the first in the New World. In the 1580s, services – including the baptism of Virginia Dare – were held at the Lost Colony, Roanoke Island, along what now forms North Carolina's Outer Banks. A chaplain also accompanied English explorer Martin Frobisher on his expedition to Newfoundland, and prayers were offered when Sir Francis Drake made landfall in 1579 near San Francisco Bay.

Emanating from a 1584 expedition organized by Sir Walter Raleigh, the Roanoke Colony – then part of Virginia — was the first English settlement in the New World. (While St. John's, Newfoundland, was claimed for England in 1583, immediate settlement did not follow.) The region then known as Virginia was so named in honor of Elizabeth I, the so-called "Virgin Queen," who had granted Raleigh his original charter for the area's colonization, and also united Protestant and Catholic traditions within the Church of England. While the Plymouth Colony later came to reflect many Puritan ideals of the Reformation, the Virginia colonies were firmly rooted in spirit of the late Renaissance and Elizabeth's reign of 1558-1603.
Next in this series: The Colonial Period . . . Virginia and its Dioceses.

Sources, and for more information, visit:

* The National Park Service,        
* The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia,
* The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia,
* The Library of Congress,
* The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities,
* And for more on Jamestown, where "the nation's first representative government, free enterprise system and culturally diverse society began". . .