This year is the bicentennial year of the first preaching of the gospel (te rongopai) in Aotearoa NZ, on Christmas Day 1814, an even popularly narrated in the carol Te Harinui. Various celebrations, activities and (most importantly) preachings of the gospel are taking place throughout our islands.
One such celebration is a hikoi (pilgrimage) through the Diocese of Dunedin, led by Bishop Kelvin Wright. It has begun in Stewart Island (our southernmost populated island) and is making its way up north through Bluff (on which read this post) and will end at the Waitaki River, the boundary between Dunedin and Christchurch Dioceses.
It’s an interesting way to mark New Zealand Anglicanism’s Bicentennial. Please keep posting stuff related to the celebrations.
To clarify, Kurt:
Yes, one could say it is NZ Anglicanism's bicentennial but I think we are treating more as the bicentennial of the coming of Christianity in general to these shores.
Other anniversaries re Anglicanism could be the arrival of the first residential missionaries or the arrival of the first bishop (Selwyn, 1842 [from memory]).
Hmm, I didn’t consider that broader aspect, Peter. Things are somewhat different here in the United States.
American Episcopalians (who know their history, anyway) are aware that the first Anglican Eucharist in what is now the USA was celebrated by the Rev. Francis Fletcher near present-day San Francisco in 1579; the Prayer Book Cross in Golden Gate Park commemorates this. And most Episcopalians know that the first native-born American Anglicans were baptized in Virginia in 1587 at Roanoke Colony. St. John’s Hampden, VA, the oldest continuous Episcopal parish in what is now the United States, was established in 1610. The oldest existing Episcopal Church building is St. Luke’s ("Old Brick") Smithfield, VA dating from 1632. These milestones of our history are fairly well-known among us.
However, thus far it has been impossible to determine exactly when the Gospel was first brought to these shores.
In 1526 St. Michael’s, Georgia (San Miguel de Gualdape) was founded by the Spanish in on Sapelo Island. It was the first European settlement in what is now the continental United States. While the colony did not last very long, the settlement had at least two Roman Catholic clergymen and a church as well, so Christian services in what is now the United States go back at least that far.
The Norse sagas suggest that Vikings explored the Atlantic coast of North America in the 10th century, perhaps as far south as the Bahamas. They also established settlements in Vineland. The Rhode Island area was originally luxuriant with wild grapes (e.g. Martha’s Vineyard island). Newport Tower in Newport, RI has been recognized as a pre-Columbian, European structure. Circular in composition and made of stone, some historians now believe it may have been part of a medieval church, and was likely constructed in the 1300s, if not earlier. So the Gospel here may date from this period.
There are also legends of Irish and Scottish monks ship-wrecked on New England shores in the 700s. They would have brought the Gospel with them.
At least New Zealanders know exactly when the Good News arrived in their islands!
We are a young nation in all respects, Kurt. It is likely that no human lived on our islands before 900AD. So the gospel may have arrived in North America while NZ was the world's largest bird sanctuary!
Thanks, Kurt, for the well-presented historical evidence of the Gospel planted on the shores of the U.S. - far in advance of that here in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It is good for us Kiwis to remember that fact. The Church in our country is but a pup.
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