From October 2014 through December 2015, Bruton Parish Church observed the 300th anniversary of our present church building. Many from the parish and community came for occasions of learning and fellowship to commemorate 300 years of worship of God in this place. Below are some of the highlights.
We were fortunate to open the anniversary year with The Rt. Rev'd and Rt. Hon. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London on October 26, 2014. His colonial predecessor had jurisdiction over the Colony of Virginia, so this was a harkening back to our beginnings. Bishop Richard is one of the most compelling voices of our Anglican Communion.
The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the 26th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church was with us midway through the celebration on April 12, 2015. She certainly needs no introduction. It was an honor to have her join us for this significant moment in the life of our parish.
We closed the celebration year with the Most Rev. Michael Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, on December 6, 2015. He is a preacher of renown and Gospel power who led his diocese in some innovative ways into the future.
Faith + Community + Change: An Educational Series for the 300th
An outstanding series of educational programs was presented to explore the life of the church from 1715 to 2015 and beyond. The series examined religious belief and practice, community life, and the influence of change as we prepare to face the unknown challenges of the future. Anne Willis organized the series, with the help of Linda Rowe, Anne Conkling, Marcia Hibbitts, Chuck Hobson, Chris Lucas, and Neal Tognazzini.
Faith, Community & Change: The Early History of Bruton Parish
This exhibition was mounted at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, telling the story of the evolution of the church building and the parish itself, as the Revolution brought change to Williamsburg. Linda Rowe, Anne Willis and Jan Gilliam worked together as curators. We are grateful to Colonial Williamsburg for their collaboration in bringing the Bruton Parish story to a wide audience.
An outstanding music program played a fundamental role. Our anniversary year was enhanced by premieres of two commissioned hymns, a choral anthem, handbell anthem, and children's choir anthem; a sung mass; choral evensongs; and special Candlelight Concerts. The music committee for the 300th anniversary offered a nationwide competition for all college students to compose a new hymn to one of three offered texts, all newly written for the occasion by Angier Brock. Forty-three hymns were received, and two winners were chosen: Alvez Barkoskie IV from the University of Oklahoma and Brenda Portman from the University of Cincinnati. Also premiered were the commissioned anthem by Malcolm Archer and a commissioned children's choir anthem by Virginia composer Mark Patterson.
New Needlepoint Kneelers
The dedication of nine needlepoint kneelers was the culmination of hours of stitching by nine parishioners. The kneelers surround the altar rail and were given in honor or memory of loved ones. Designed by Nancy Lukoskie, they depict scenes and motifs unique to Bruton Parish Church and Williamsburg.
Other Projects and Events
Upon completion of the new roof and painting of the exterior in 2013, parishioner and Williamsburg artist Betty Babb was asked by the 300th anniversary committee to complete a new painting of the church building. The original now hangs in the Custis House. Betty’s painting was the inspiration for special 300th anniversary products commissioned for the Bruton Parish Shop, such as note cards, prints, coasters and mugs. Bruton Parish joined with Habitat for Humanity and partnered with Life Pointe Christian Church to sponsor and build a house in James City County. The house was dedicated on November 10, 2014 and the new owners are residing there now. And finally, a grand celebration for all was held September 27, 2015 at the Williamsburg Lodge, preceded by a service of Choral Evensong in the church. The Campaign for the Fourth Century was announced, and we were on our way for another century in God’s service.