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1620 Pilgrim Lessons for 2020

We have just returned from a wonderful week in Plymouth visiting iconic sites like the Mayflower II, where we signed a copy of the Mayflower Compact onboard, 400 years after the original was executed while the ship was anchored offshore in Provincetown Bay. We ventured south down Cape Cod, following the Gospel fruit of the Pilgrims, visiting “Praying Indian” village locations where Richard Bourne and others established churches like the Mashpee Meetinghouse where Indian preachers have continuously preached the Gospel since 1643. An afternoon was spent in neighboring Duxbury, established in 1627 by Myles Standish, John and Priscilla Alden, and others from Plymouth. Today, the Aldens boast of over 1,000,000 descendants!

Bill Potter guides on Burial Hill

Old Indian Church, Mashpee Meetinghouse

Mayflower Monument in Provincetown

Bournedale, site of first meetinghouse for Indians in the Plymouth Colony

Signing the Mayflower Compact aboard Mayflower II

Mayflower II, replica of the original vessel that brought the Pilgrims

You have more in common with the Pilgrims than you may realize, particularly this year. A healthy dose of perspective followed by a generous helping of gratitude will be an encouragement and an inspiration to all as we remember their story:

High hopes and hardships

Blown off course and missing Hudson Bay, they settle in Cape Cod

Hostile environment

Frozen ground prevents planting, common house burns just before completion and their only neighbors shoot arrows at them

Sickness, panic, fear

Half of the 102 passengers and 30 crew die the first winter, buried at night in unmarked graves to hide their diminished numbers from the Indians


102 passengers in an 80’ x 20’ space, many for almost nine months

Financial loss

Deceived, robbed and arrested by unscrupulous ship captains—losing all provision and delaying the trip for years


Many family members had to remain behind, including their beloved pastor John Robinson. Many more stayed back when the Speedwell had to be abandoned and not all would fit on the Mayflower

False starts, waiting

Twice the venture started out and twice turned around as the Speedwell sprung leaks and was finally abandoned


Nothing went as planned, but William Bradford expressed his confidence in God’s sovereignty with this wonderful quote: “They committed themselves to the will of God and resolved to proceed.”

Take Heart—1621 Was Better!

By God’s grace, the surviving passengers of the Mayflower began to thrive and the Gospel spread across America, ushering in peace and prosperity. Today, those Pilgrims boast an estimated 10 million living American descendants and as many as 35 million worldwide. May we be a fraction as fruitful as they were.

“Just as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.” —William Bradford

Happy Thanksgiving!

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