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Massachusetts parish contributes to Smithsonian exhibit

Massachusetts parish contributes to Smithsonian exhibit

St Paul’s in Newburyport, MA, the oldest continuing Episcopal parish in the state, recently donated  items to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History that tell the story of how the American Revolution affected everyday people in their religious lives.


The artifacts will be part of an upcoming exhibit, “Early Religion in America.”
from the Smithsonian’s website

The role of religion in the formation and development of the United States is at the heart of this one-year exhibition that explores the themes of religious diversity, freedom, and growth from the colonial era through the 1840s…

The objects represent the diverse range of Christian, Native American, and African traditions as well as Mormonism, Islam, and Judaism that wove through American life in this era.


The items from St Paul’s date from the time of the American Revolution.  The members of St Paul’s were Patriots, in favor of the revolution and the artifacts reflect that.  Included in the items loaned is the Book of Common Prayer used by then Rector, the Rev Edward Bass (later fist bishop of Massachusetts), that shows where Bass crossed out all references and prayers for the English monarchy.


According to the parish’s website, Bass was directed to do the crossing out by the vestry and did so reluctantly.

“Mr. Bass kept St. Paul’s Church open during the time of the Revolution. He considered himself neutral and he became one of the few rectors who did not flee the colonies. He was charged by the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts with collaborating with the colonists and as a result lost his salary. This did not bother him for he continued to serve the congregation at St. Paul’s Church. The vestry asked him to discontinue any prayers or reference to the English Royal Family. He used his quill pen to cross from his prayer book any reference to the English King and Royal Family.”


The exhibit is is open until June 3rd 2018


image from Newburyport News by Stephen Elliot


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