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Pilgrims Braved North Atlantic To Gain Religious Liberty


Mayflower passengers crossed forbidding seas to gain freedom of religion.

Pilgrims Risked Everything To Worship as They Believed

The North Atlantic in November is a cold and perilous place. Even today's most seasoned and intrepid helmsmen, guided by satellites as well as stars, equipped with 21st-century navigation and communications equipment, high-tech cold-weather gear, and a boat designed and built to withstand the harshest of foul weather, set out across this inhospitable "vasty deep" with not a few misgivings.

Imagine what drove Mayflower Captain Christopher Jones, his crew, and his passengers to risk their lives on an adventure that could have turned out very badly indeed. In 1620, as the Mayflower crew set sail westward toward the New World, the Pilgrims might well have wondered if this would be their last voyage, or a passage to a home where they could finally worship as they believed. And so they sailed onward, past uncharted places marked, "Here be dragons."

The early settlers in the New World opened the door to a new way of worship, unfettered by religious oligarchy or hostile secular state. We continue to uphold our freedom to worship as we believe, with a prayer book that was introduced in the American colonies more than a century after the Pilgrims arrived. This prayer book, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, continues in use today, the standard of worship throughout Anglican and Episcopal Churches.

The Collect.

O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. -- Thanksgiving Day, page 265, 1928 Book of Common Prayer

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