The Struggle For Religious Freedom in the Seventeenth Century

An invitation from the Attleboro Historical Preservation Society to speak about Baptist history and the English roots of our community led me to research and give a talk on the struggle for religious freedom on both sides of the Atlantic during the seventeenth century.  The stories of faith and courage are inspiring (although I have left the darker questions about relations with Native Americans for another time).

It was surpising to me how relevant the struggles of the seventeenth century continue to be in the twenty first century.  Hope you find it helpful.

The Struggle for Religious Freedom in the 17th Century

About John Fisk

I am a retired pastor, who served churches in New England for 33 years. I emigrated to the USA from England in 1974 and completed two graduate degrees in theology and pastoral practice at Andover-NewtonTheological School. In retirement I am focused on the teaching of Christian meditation, providing spiritual guidance, leading retreats and occasional preaching. I am particularly interested in contemplation, the mystical path and social justice.
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4 Responses to The Struggle For Religious Freedom in the Seventeenth Century

  1. Wendy says:

    John, this article gives a strong sense of how rich an influence on present-day faith our region has had. One more reason to rejoice that I live in Attleboro! Thanks for sharing such important background. Wendy Oliver

  2. John,

    Thanks for mentioning me and our work here. A few annotations: We were organized in 1663 not 1667; the town was established in 1667. I’m not sure that Myles actually invested in the Attleborough Gore. That was John Brown and Willet, to my knowledge.The picture of Dr. Brackney was taken at the site of the Myles garrison house. That building was attacked by the Wampanoag at the outbreak of the King Philip war. Myles was not necessarily a proponent of religious “freedom” but certainly of toleration and cooperation between communions. He was a Calvinist and had ties to the Glass House congregation in London. He established 5 “Baptist” congregations in Wales. Brackney has suggested that they were “mission” efforts from the Calvinistic Baptists of London (Spillsbury, Kiffen et al). When the town Swansea was organized the “First Church of Christ in Swansea” was an established church…public funds went to its support and people within the town had certain religious expectations which were to be met.

    Now that you have had a chance to meet our folks, I would love to sit and chat with you about our history and your interest in this subject. Our ancient records are in the process of publication. The information I wrote that appears on the website needs to be updated as we have now perused more of our original documents. My next major task is to write a more comprehensive history of our congregation.

    Until we sit down!
    Be well,

    • John Fisk says:

      Thanks, Charlie for the clarification. Yes, I’d enjoy getting together. You are doing some impressive work on the early Baptists in this area.

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