America’s Get’s Her Birthday Party
The Meaning of the Jamestown Quadricentennial
They came from nearly fifty states — four thousand men, women, and children. They came representing diverse denominational backgrounds, skin colors and ethnicities. Some were direct descendants of the Powhatan Indians themselves, or the Jamestown colonists, while others were first, second, and third-generation children of immigrants.
And from the opening ceremonies, which involved the re-enactment of the planting of the Cross at the “First Landing” on Monday, June 11, to the glorious closing fireworks on the evening of Saturday, June 16, the Christian families in attendance prayed, played, feasted, and rejoiced.
By God’s grace, the event was blessed from beginning to end, and the Lord alone received the glory, honor, and praise.
Sponsored by Vision Forum Ministries, “The Jamestown Quadricentennial: A Celebration of Our Providential History” included events (often running concurrently) in five cities — Hampton, Charles City, Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown. Nearly a thousand celebrants traveled in hot air balloons. Close to three thousand people participated in thirty-five two-hour Faith and Freedom Tours that featured some of the great teachers and preachers of our day. Thousands attended historical symposia. Fifteen hundred people traveled down the James River on boat tours that presented history from a providential perspective. On Friday, about a thousand boys and girls of all ages marched in costume, with the flags of fifty states waving and fifes and drummers playing in a grand and glorious parade. A similar number marched again on Saturday.
Dr. Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary and keynote at the event, explained that the “Jamestown Quadricentennial is significant because it demonstrated that many Americans still appreciate the wonderful accomplishments of heroism of our early settlers who brought British and English culture to the shores of the New World in 1607. It was wonderful to see that, four centuries later, Americans are still celebrating the Christian worldview of Jamestown’s founders.”
Tom Adler, a member of the official Jamestown 2007 Committee observed that “People stood up and took notice because of the number of people who attended the Jamestown Quadricentennial [the Vision Forum event], and the thousands of people who came made a huge impact on the area.... I cannot imagine celebrating the America’s 400th anniversary without this kind of event that Vision Forum hosted. The Jamestown Quadricentennial elevated the ideals that made our country great, and I don’t know what we would have done without it.”
Celebrating and Defending God’s Providential History
Dr. Joe Morecraft presented powerful messages on God’s providence in the establishment of Jamestown
Hundreds of boys and girls celebrated throughout the week by dressing up in vintage costume
Throughout the week, the scholars, historians and teachers at the event stood unified in their presentation of American history through the lens of the providence of God. Revisionist theories were refuted, and a vision of hope and encouragement was cast as participants catalogued and interpreted the mercies of God in the life of this nation.
Several historical themes predominated: First, the proper study of history requires the correct theological presuppositions. Primary among these is the doctrine of providence. Second, Jamestown is not the story of perfect or idealized individuals. It is the story of imperfect, but remarkable individuals who were mighty tools in the hands of God who brought to their nation-building efforts distinctively Christian ideals, law systems, and culture.
Third, Christians must be grateful for the work of God at Jamestown as a land of crucial “firsts.” Jamestown is more than the first permanent English settlement in America. It was the portal through which the most significant book in history — the Bible — came to America. It was through the Jamestown settlers that the land which would become the United States was dedicated to Christ. And it was through the Virginia Charter of 1606 that the America was officially settled for the primary purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission. Jamestown gave us our first Protestant Christian churches, conversions, and baptisms. Before the tragic introduction of chattel slavery into America, the first Jamestown legacy was one of “racial” unity in Christ, as established by the marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. Jamestown also gave America the Christian common law and her first experiment in Republican representative government.
Refuting Revisionism, Rekindling a Heart of Gratitude
“The majority of Christians had no idea that May through June of 2007 was the 400th anniversary of the landing and settlement at Jamestown,” wrote Gary Demar, president of American Vision and a featured speaker at the Christian celebration. “This is a disturbing fact. It’s a reminder that a nation that has lost its memory of the past has no clear path to take for the future.”
After a year of the official state-sponsored revisionist history leading the children of America to revile their forefathers and lament the circumstances of America’s birth, this event was distinguished by the freedom participants enjoyed to discuss the history of America without fear of censure by the forces of political correctness.
Geoff Botkin, a filmmaker and featured speaker at the event, explained that “the families and their children who came had this in common — a great intellectual curiosity — and the entire assemblage was able to explore many forgotten aspects of American history. The families who came were looking for and found a place of freedom, a place where they could interact with one another in an environment that was not oppressed by the stifling influence of political correctness. What they enjoyed was a place of complete social, academic and spiritual freedom that is rare even in many American communities today.”
Presidents, Plays, and “Boy Heaven”
Children relive the charge of Redoubt #10 at the Yorktown battlefield
The Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps leads The Children’s Parade at Fort Pocahontas
Over the course of the week, celebrants dedicated a historic monument and attended more than twenty-five lectures and re-enactments. They watched “The Marriage of Pocahontas,” met the grandson of the tenth President of the United States, shook hands with President Theodore Roosevelt and dialogued with Princess Pocahontas. Some of them searched for answers to an historic mystery, and one of those treasure-hunting sleuths became heir to a cache of four hundred gold coins. Celebrants listened to the blast of the cannons, the sounds of fifes and drums, and they gathered under the evening sky for a simply spectacular fireworks display.
One mother who attended the event put it this way:
My oldest boys (ages 10, 8 and 6) had a week in Boy Heaven. Dressed in Colonial garb, they charged Redoubt No. 10 at Yorktown, capturing the flag and leading the American soldiers to victory; they participated in half a dozen impromptu fencing matches and tug-of-war.... They explored the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery ships at Jamestown Fort; they walked in the footsteps of John Smith at Historic Jamestown.
As to the girls?
My two girls dressed up in their Jamestown outfits and talked with Princess Pocahontas; they walked through Colonial homes, enjoying the comments of guides who loved seeing little ladies in period garb; they delighted in dipping their toes in the James River at Sherwood Forest and imagining the great ladies who may have walked along its banks in the past.
“Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land”
Dr. Peter Lillback, author of George Washington’s Sacred Fire
, and President of Westminster Theological Seminary
Thousands gather to hear the evening lectures given by the distinguished team of Christian historians joining us for the Jamestown Quadricentennial
But more than anything else, the families in attendance were able to take a week of their lives to stop, rejoice, give thanks to the Lord and praise the name of Jesus Christ for his many mercies in the life of our God-blessed nation.
“People left their cars unlocked,” Botkin explained. “There was no fighting, no drunkenness. It was a tremendous place of peace and orderliness reminiscent of a time in American history where families enjoyed this kind of community. It was a picture of Christian culture.”
One of the most important events of the week was the laying of the Jamestown Children’s Memorial. Paid for by the one-dollar donation of American children and dedicated to the glory of God, this was the only monument to be erected for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown.
Next to the monument was buried a time capsule to be opened in 2107.
Fifteen Years of Quadricentennials to God’s Glory
Dr. Paul Jehle, president of the Plymouth Rock Foundation, noted that “the God-blessed success of the Jamestown Quadricentennial bodes well for the nearly fifteen-year cycle of American quadricentennial events, which will culminate with the 400th anniversary of the coming of the Pilgrims to America.”
Jehle further stated:
I pray that, in the long term, the Jamestown Quadricentennial will be a stepping stone for a larger portion of the body of Christ, both in numbers and breadth, that will gather in 2020 in Plymouth.
I also pray that in thirteen years we will be a percentage of more than 1.5 million Americans who will hear, some for the first time, that God providentially brought this nation into being.... My prayer is that God would be honored, and thus the Lord would mercifully continue His faithfulness to our national covenant.
Casting Vision for the Children of America
The planting of the Cross by English settlers at the re-enactment of the First Landing
Melanie Thomas — Winner of the Jamestown 400 Treasure Hunt unlocks the treasure chest
Speaker after speaker gave hope to the children, not merely by remembering the past, but by charting a course for the future based on the lessons of the past.
DeMar offered this observation:
The Jamestown Quadricentennial should remind all Christians what is possible. When you walk the quiet ground of Jamestown you are reminded that voices spoke there, voices that uttered prayers in thanksgiving to God even in times of trials and great tribulation. If their efforts are to mean anything, then their efforts must be embodied in their descendants.
He further argued that “we are today’s Jamestown. There were casualties then, and there will be casualties today. Like our predecessors, we will not give up hope. Where the remnants of their church and fort stood, God has blessed his church with edifices that ring the coastlines and traverse the cities of this nation from sea to sea. The men of Jamestown crossed an ocean in three small ships and laid the foundation for a nation in a wilderness. God has put so much more at our disposal. How can we despise these gifts and claim that future battles are hopeless to fight? We owe the people of Jamestown hundreds of years of faithful work to continue their once lost legacy.”
In the end, America had her birthday party.
For this, all glory, honor and praise goes to the Lord Jesus Christ — the very God of the Jamestown settlers who boldly declared in their 1606 Charter that the purpose for settlement was the spreading of the Gospel.
"The Marriage of Pocahontas" was performed by the Academy of the Arts
President Theodore Roosevelt returns from the Tercentenary Celebration to speak to celebrants
Stephen McDowell, president of the Providence Foundation commented:
The Jamestown Quadricentennial left a landmark for future generations to look back and say, ‘There was a remnant who gathered in 2007 who honored God in the founding of America.’
Elijah Brown, a young father who attended the event, summarized the generational significance of the celebration this way:
What took place at the Jamestown Quadricentennial was more than a single event — it was a monumental epic of our generation. Many came out for a conference, others came for celebration, and still others came out to remember the past. However, what occurred at Jamestown was something so much greater then anyone expected. We raised our Ebenezer as we laid stones of remembrance in honor of the great things God has fashioned. As men of God raised their voices from the pulpit, the die was cast, and many, like me, will never be the same. As my children looked on, it gave me reason to hope like I have never hoped before. The Jamestown Quadricentennial was not just another celebration, conference or history tour remembering the past. It was a revival of our nation. It was a call for the Holy Scriptures to be forever externalized in every area of life. It was hallmark of God’s providence extended to generations to come.
May God make it so!
Happy birthday, America.