The Pilgrims Signing the Compact, on board the Mayflower, Nov. 11th, 1620, engraving by Gauthier (Library of Congress)

On Thanksgiving, take care to remember that this pilgrim republic, fearfully and wonderfully made, was made for better and higher things.




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W
illiam Bradford, the Pilgrim leader who organized the first Thanksgiving in 1621, was a Separatist. The Separatists, reformers who took to heart the text of II Corinthians 6: 17 — “Come out from among them, and be ye separate” — broke with the Church of England, and sought in the New World a situation in which they might be free to worship and enjoy community on their own terms.

The Separatists were intensely focused on Scripture, and their leading scholars came to believe that the Bible is best understood in its original languages, eliminating the distortions and questions of interpretation that are

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