Olsen Lecture 2020 Review: “The Mayflower 400 years on”

We were honoured to welcome author and broadcaster Rebecca Fraser to St Bride’s on 8th October to deliver the annual Tom Olsen Lecture.

The Lecture has been a popular fixture in the church’s calendar since its inception in 1991 and was presented, for the first time, as a fully virtual event due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event remains free to view on our YouTube channel.

Standing in front of the reredos which had been unveiled by HM The Queen in December 1957 in memory of Edward Winslow, parishioner of St Bride’s, and future Governor of Massachusetts, Rebecca described the challenges facing early 17th century Protestants who felt that the church was “sliding backwards towards Rome”.

Winslow came to believe that only by joining a separatist church could he freely practice his religious beliefs and, after three years printing illicit sermons and tracts in Leiden, Holland, he was one of over 100 Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower that set sail on 16th September 1620.

Rebecca explained how the Fathers, whilst on the voyage, drew up and signed the Mayflower Compact, a document which in time influenced the American Declaration of Independence.

In sharp contrast to established church teaching and doctrine at the time, women were given expanded roles within the Mayflower church, and the Pilgrim Fathers were also encouraged not to “impinge upon the lives of native Americans, except to offer the great gift of Christianity.” Indeed, after arriving in Cape Cod, they came to rely heavily on the local Indigenous tribes for their very survival and, the following winter, they celebrated what was in effect the first Thanksgiving.

This year’s Lecture is one of numerous events being held this year throughout the UK and USA in 2020/21 to mark this important anniversary, and we are most grateful to Kaizo for its continued generous sponsorship.

Written by: James Irving

Posted On: Friday 23rd October, 2020

congregation sitting for service


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