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Reform Magazine | October 28, 2020

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The Church of the Pilgrims

The Church of the Pilgrims

This year is the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower Pilgrims to North America. The present minister of their home church, Gillian Poucher, tells their story

Leaving Plymouth for North America in autumn 1620, the Mayflower Pilgrims risked their lives as they set sail across the Atlantic. When they arrived in Cape Cod, New England, they found themselves plunged into a freezing winter. Inadequate shelter and poor food led to the death of half the company during the first few months.

Many of the Pilgrims originated from the east Midlands, from north Nottinghamshire, south Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. In 1897, the building that became Gainsborough United Reformed Church was constructed as a memorial to the Pastor of the Pilgrims, John Robinson. Robinson was born in the nearby village of Sturton-le-Steeple and educated in Cambridge, where he was heavily influenced by puritanism. Resigning his fellowship of Corpus Christi College to marry Bridget White in 1604, he became Associate Pastor at St Andrew’s Church, Norwich. His refusal to conform to a new book of canons introduced by James I led to his suspension from preaching.

Back in north Nottinghamshire, Robinson became pastor to a separatist congregation meeting at Scrooby Manor, alongside Richard Clyfton, the rector of nearby Babworth. Scrooby Manor was the home of postmaster and leading separatist William Brewster. Another separatist congregation met 12 miles away in Gainsborough, led by John Smyth…

Gillian Poucher is Minister of Gainsborough United Reformed Church, Lincolnshire

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the February 2020 edition of Reform

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