The Christian Heritage Centre (CHC) opened its fifth year with a visit of nearly 40 home-schooled children and their parents.
The aim of the centre is to make widely known the fascinating, priceless and wide-ranging benefits of the UK’s Christian heritage.
With this first group of the year, we looked at the inspirational story of the Pilgrim Fathers. These were separatist Puritans, who wanted ‘Reformation without tarrying for any’. They founded their own churches, according to the pattern as they saw it defined in Scripture. They faced harassment, fines, confiscation of goods and imprisonment in following their consciences.
Facing continued difficulties, they fled to Holland; this first migration itself being fraught with problems that required a high degree of faith and courage to undertake.
Their greater venture of faith was their voyage to New England in 1620, on board the famous Mayflower. This historic voyage involved not only great financial risk, but also a long and dangerous sea voyage.
It turned out to be a voyage of 66 days, with winter fast approaching, and great uncertainty in regard to their survival, even if they finally arrived in New England.
As it was, all the Pilgrims arrived safely, with one extra passenger at the end of the voyage — Oceanus Hopkins was born in mid-Atlantic!
We noted the signing of the Mayflower compact by those who sailed. This became the first truly democratic constitution in the modern world.
We sought to impress upon the children visiting the centre, five important points that characterised these people: they trusted in God; believed God’s Word; stayed faithful even when things were difficult; were provided for by God, and thanked God for his providential care.
The day included a quiz/search of the items in the large exhibition and making models of the Mayflower and Pilgrim figures. It ended with singing an adapted version of Mrs Heman’s poem, ‘The landing of the Pilgrim Fathers’, to the tune of ‘A little ship was on the sea’. The last verse sums up something of the message of the Pilgrim Fathers:
‘Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod!
They have left unstained what there they found —
Freedom to worship God!’
The CHC is open on specific Saturdays during the year, or by arrangement, for schools, churches and other groups (www.christianheritagecentre.org.uk).