During the medieval period it was common for those who could not go on pilgrimage to send prayers with the pilgrims to be prayed at the sacred destinations and shrines. The pilgrims going to England would like to invite St John’s parishioners to send prayer requests with us to England, a name, several names, a prayer. These will be rotated during our worship. Please find the prayer request cards in the office on the front desk, fill one out and place it in Justin’s mailbox.
Our last stop on the pilgrimage to the Northern Neck was to join the congregation of Yeocomico Church of Cople Parish for their Sunday Eucharist, The church is the oldest church on the Northern Neck and the nineth oldest in the US. The church was first built as a wooden structure in 1655 but re-built in the current brick structure in 1706. The door to the church is known as a wicket door, which is a small door within a large door, primarily to keep the heat in. The pews were all orientated to the large pulpit, the altar was off to one side. Even when our theology has shifted, the buiding always wins. One feature common to all three churches visited was that none of them had a steeple. This was because of their remote locations – no one would have heard a bell if you did ring it.
Worship was wonderful as was the lunch that parishioners provided for us afterwards. A great pilgrimage to find the sacred in the Northern Neck!
The Northern Neck pilgrimage concluded on a beautiful morning in Westmoreland County as we joined the 11 am service at the Yeocomico Church of Cople Parish. Before the service we toured the building and grounds. Following the service, we were invited to the Parish Hall to join in a luncheon and coffee hour. The visit to this old church was a delight.
Our second stop on our pilgrimage to the Northern Neck was at St. Mary’s, Whitechapel. Founded in 1669 by Captain David Fox and named for the parish he had been a member of in the Whitechapel area of London. Unfortunately St Mary’s, Whitechapel in London can no longer be visited as it was destroyed by a bomb suring World War II. The church was originally a rectangular shape but as prosperity and the congregation grew east and west wings were added. As was traditional the altar was placed in the east to be facing Jerusalem. During the latter part of the 18th century, dissenters began to break from the Anglican Church and form other churches such as Baptist and Methodist churches. St Mary’s fell into disrepair and the east and west wings became unusable and so were taken down. There are now stone markers where they once stood.
Those who remember the old paint color in the church at St John’s will be interested that St Mary’s was painted the same color. Contrary to popular belief this is not a colonial color, it would have been all white in colonial times. This was a popular 19th century color.
Before departing St Mary’s, Justin led Evening Prayer accoring to the first iteration of the US Book of Common Prayer of 1789. Prior to 1789 they would have used the English Book of Common Prayer of 1662, still in common use in England today.
The second church we visited is the still-active parish of St. Mary ‘s Whitechapel in Lancaster County. The Parish historian met us and gave the history. Justin then led the group in Evening Prayer as found in the Prayer Book of 1789. Then, on to dinner at The Tides Inn in Irvington. The 22 travelers from Northern Virginia were joined by our former parishioners Andy and M’liss Hinton, who recently moved to Kinsale.
Our first stop was Christ Church in Weems, Virginia. A church that dates from 1735, without any famous historical event, without any famous parishioners, just famous for its typical colonial architecture that remains unchanged since its foundation. It did not suffer the harm that many other churches suffered in the Revolutionary war and the Civil War, largely because of its remote location – no battles were fought here. The group learned about worship of the persiod – this was Protestant Church of England Virginia – the pulpit was primary – the altar was seconday. Word held more importance than Sacrament. And woe to those who did not attend church, once per month – 20 whips at the town whipping post. Despite these draconian learnings this was a great start to our first pilgrimage of 2017.
On May 13 we will visit several historic, Colonial-era Episcopal churches in Virginia. The trip will involve a journey to Northern Neck communities in Lancaster and Westmoreland Counties and include an overnight stay in Irvington. The present plan is to visit Christ Church (and its museum) in Lancaster on Saturday afternoon; St. Mary’s Whitechapel, including a service of Evening Prayer; and Yeocomico Church, Kinsale, for Sunday worship.
Each of the three churches was established in pre-Revolutionary War times and is in use. We will also be hosted by St. Mary’s Whitechapel and Yeocomico Church for discussion about their histories during our visit.
Learn more about the trip plans in the following presentation.
Southern England Pilgrimage
August 4-12, 2017
Encounter the sacred, with opportunities for individual reflection and contemplation as well as time for fellowship and worship in community with your fellow pilgrims.
Visit Winchester, Salisbury and Canterbury Cathedrals. There will be time in London with visits to Lambeth Palace, the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. We will also visit Christ Church in Oxford.
Contact Justin Ivatts or reach out to any of the pilgrimage committee members: Ron Alexander, Jack Hannon, Deborah Page, or Anne Warrell.