he year 2020 signified the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the establishment of Plymouth Plantation, an English expedition to the New World, people now designated as “the Pilgrims”. That handful of persecuted Christians left to future American generations a profound legacy of courage, hard work, suffering, and devotion to Christ. Led by their pastor John Robinson and elder William Brewster, they had adopted, in ironclad conviction, the basic doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, based on the divine revelation of the Holy Scriptures. But they had also separated themselves from the Church of England, a punishable crime. These Independents believed God should only be worshipped according to the commands of the Bible, a belief held by other Separatists and Presbyterians, a doctrine known as “the regulative principle of worship”. The congregation left England for the Netherlands, where such dissenters found a warm welcome. In 1620 a portion of Pastor John Robinson’s congregation pioneered another move, this time to the New World.
A hand-drawn map of Plymouth Bay, dated 1605 and showing the native settlements that existed in the area at the time, as well as the approximate eventual location of Plimoth Plantation (marked with a star) and other modern place names
Arriving along the coast of New England near Cape Cod in the winter, the small group of families finally chose an uninhabited harbor landing in which to settle, an area previously the location of the Patuxets, a native tribe wiped out by a plague (sometimes thought to be smallpox), in the two previous years. With only vague ideas regarding the peacefulness of local tribal people, the Pilgrims constructed a palisade, buried their dead secretly at night—half of their number as it turned out—and waited for spring. They sang praises and thanked God in prayer for His providential preservation of the ones who survived that first winter. Little could they have known that Providential preservation had just begun.
The recreated Plimoth Plantation settlement, looking towards Plymouth Bay