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March 19, 2004

CW programs delve into the intricacies of faith, beliefs during April's Religion History Month

It was a matter of life and death. Religion was such a controversial issue in 18th-century North America that many put their lives on the line to practice their faith. Williamsburg played an essential role in that struggle when in June 1779, Thomas Jefferson introduced his Statute for Religious Freedom, which set forth the doctrine of Separation of Church and State and laid the groundwork for the First Amendment. The legally sanctioned Church of England changed Native American, African and European religions in the colony. More changes came with the evangelical movement that inspired many people to abandon the established church for dissenting sects, and by the philosophical, political and social upheaval that culminated in the passage of a law guaranteeing the free exercise of religion.

Colonial Williamsburg invites April guests to thoroughly investigate religious history yesterday and today at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium:

  • Mondays (April 12, 19 and 26)

    1:30 p.m., Gospel of Liberty. An award-winning presentation of the Great Awakening in Virginia and the role of Presbyterian minister Samuel Davies in the struggle for religious toleration. Video.

    3 p.m., A Link Among the Days. Learn about the story of Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin’s dream to restore Williamsburg to its 18th-century appearance and how he helped the dream become a reality. Video.

    4 p.m., Our Common Passage. This compelling one-woman drama depicts the lives of four women and their shared experiences of motherhood, childbirth and loss against the dramatic backdrop of colonial America in the days before and during the American Revolution.

  • Tuesdays (April 13 and 27) 3:30 p.m. Gowan Pamphlet: God is My Rock. Gowan Pamphlet, the slave of King’s Arms tavern owner Jane Vobe, known locally as a popular preacher, offers his perspective on slavery, religion and freedom. One hour.

  • Wednesdays, 3:30 p.m. Visiting Scholar Lecture Series:

    April 7, Samuel Davies and the Hanover Awakening: America’s First Hymn.

    C. J. Swearingen, professor of English, Texas A&M University, lectures on Samuel Davies, his involvement in religious change in colonial Virginia and his work as a composer of popular hymns.

    April 14, The Religion of the Founding Fathers.

    David L. Holmes, professor of religion, the College of William and Mary, lectures on religion practiced by America’s founding fathers. He will discuss the religious views of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and James Monroe.

    April 21, Spreading the Gospel in Colonial Virginia.

    Edward Bond, assistant professor of history, Alabama A&M University, lectures on
    the evolution of Christianity in 17th-and 18th-century Virginia. Bond will be available following his lecture to sign copies of his new books and manuscripts collection.

    April 28, Patrick Henry’s Role in the Religious Transformation of Virginia.

    Mark Couvillon, historical interpreter, research and author, speaks on the religious views of Patrick Henry and Henry’s influence in the changing religious landscape of late 18th-century Virginia.

  • Thursdays (April 8, 15, 22 and 29) 3:30 p.m., Jefferson and Henry Debate the Separation Between Church and State Religion. Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry present their respective bills concerning religion before the Virginia legislature in 1784 to the public. 45 minutes. This program requires a free reservation, which is available at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket location.

  • Fridays, 3:30 p.m.: April 2, 9 and 23, Gospel of Fire: The Plight of the Baptists. Lewis Craig, a Baptist preacher, discusses his trials in 1760s Virginia.

    April 16 and 30, Religion in 18th-Century Life. An 18th-century person about town discusses the role of religion in their daily life.

  • Saturdays (April 3, 10, 17 and 24) 2 and 3:30 p.m. The Faith of a Founding Father. Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson will discuss how religion impacts his daily life. This program requires a free reservation, which is available at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket location.

  • Sundays (April 11 and 18) 3:30 p.m. To Such Belongs the Kingdom of God. Martha Washington speaks with children and their parents about proper upbringing and other family matters. This program requires a free reservation, which is available at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket location.

  • Sundays (April 11, 18 and 25) 4 p.m. The First Lady Reflects on the Role of Religion in Her Life. Martha Washington shares her views on religion. This program requires a free reservation, which is available at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket location.

    A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket is required for all programs.

    Media Contact:
    Lorraine C. Brooks
    (757) 220-7280

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