The Pilgrim Christian at 400 Years of Citizenship, or… What is the Christian Pilgrim’s Civic Duty?

Roxbury Conference 2020 ~ August 14-16 ~ Boundaries of Faith

By faith Abraham… went out, not knowing where he went. ... For he looked for a city that has foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God. ... [He] died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, he was persuaded by [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that [he was a] stranger and pilgrim on the earth. [Now] they that say such things declare plainly that they seek and desire a country. ... a better [country], …a heavenly country: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:8, 10, 13-14, 16 KJV)

Our Theme for our 2020 Family Leadership Conference is: "What is the Christian Pilgrim’s Civic Duty?" September 26, 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s Mayflower voyage to America. Today, America finds herself embroiled in an identity crisis that threatens the very fabric of her society and governmental system. In the present cultural crisis, some are sincerely asking questions about how to correct the long-standing American social evil of racism; I believe that this self-examination is proper. However, America’s enemies are using the crisis to outright attack the right of America to exist as a nation. They imagine that the total destruction of 400 years of American history and heritage is the only means of resolving the problem because America is, using their incendiary narrative, “systemically racist and rotten to the core.”

While this narrative may be straight out of the old communist play book of social disruption that is now plaguing many American cities, it’s not my intent to lecture on the evils of communism. However, the 400th Anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower is a perfect backdrop to look at the origins of America as a quest for liberty – especially freedom of worship. With God’s help, that will be this year’s focus for our annual Family Leadership Conference at Roxbury, Pennsylvania. Our conference, by God’s grace, is going to be a redemptive, liberating look at what the Bible teaches to be the duty of believers, in every age and nation, to the country in which they live. We want to ask an important civics question: What are the boundaries of loyalty due from the Christian to his/her temporary earthly country?

We recently changed our name to Wellspring Christian Family Schools. In the long process of considering a name change over the years, I offered up the cumbersome suggestion of Washington, Carver, Frederick-Douglas School (i.e. WCFS). While it didn’t smoothly roll off the tongue, it represents my admiration for these three great American heroes. Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver of Tuskegee Institute fame and Frederick Douglas, who became a renowned orator, abolitionist and statesman, were former slaves who would go on to become innovative and visionary educators. These Christian men gave America a remarkable heritage demonstrating how the believer can impact a nation with grace and truth in the face of the genuine, demoralizing circumstances of racism in their day. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who entertained Booker T. Washington as the first black man to eat as an honored guest at the White House, said that Washington and Carver were “single-handedly responsible” for stemming a devastating backlash of bloodshed in their day.

These men are heroes because they overcame by the word of their testimony and by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11). They not only overcame, but they became examples of how an inscrutable faith not only endures injustice and hardship by anchoring their hope to the promises of God , but by sacrificially devoting their lives to serving the well-being of those so recently liberated from the bondage of slavery. In the spiritual realm, Satan dominates by using a bitter narrative that only motivates his disciples to violence and vengeance. Washington and Carver were not taken in by self-pity, instead they embraced Christian Service. They saw education as one of the keys to self-sufficiency and self-esteem. Their vision was for practical education that could give skill and opportunity leading to the innate pride of discovering a heavenly sense of purpose and value to their downtrodden people. They leaned on the promises of God as Pilgrims on their journey to heaven; and in doing so, they impacted not only their generation, but generations to come. How did these men do it? How did they avoid this trap of bitterness, malice and wrath? It wasn’t easy. Booker T. Washington, in his treatise, The Story of the Negro, wrote of the difficulty of his day that sounds eerily familiar today:

Any black man willing to curse or abuse the white man easily gained for himself a reputation for great courage. He might spend thirty minutes or an hour once a year in that kind of “vindication” of his race, but he got a reputation of being an exceedingly brave man. Another man who worked patiently and persistently for years in a Negro school, depriving himself of many of the comforts and necessities of life in order to perform a service which would uplift his race, was likely to be denounced as a coward by these “heroes”, because he chose to do his work without cursing .

Christian pilgrims of every age face this kind of demoralization narrative. Such hostility requires us to be undergirded with biblical vision. We must see the promises of God from afar and live out a true confession as pilgrims and strangers while living in our imperfect culture, whatever its injustice. Our conference begins our new school year by remembering America’s beginnings as a nation. Throughout our conference, we hope to stir up a positive, biblical framework which will be as appropriate today as it was 400 years ago. Our sub-theme is "Boundaries of Faith." We will explore God’s incredible gift of boundaries as we look at our revered history of the Pilgrims coming to America. We will also give an overview to the now mandated graduation credit requirement: Biblical Foundations of Self-Government applicable to this year’s high school graduates and all future WCFS graduates. (We are also looking forward with anticipation to next summer’s 400th anniversary celebration of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Keep an eye out for details of how you can participate.)

Please give thoughtful consideration to attend the conference this year in person! We will have the run of Roxbury Holiness Camp and we are expecting it to be a very special weekend! Don’t forget that the Family Heritage Expo projects will be on display all weekend and our traditional Field Day will take place Saturday afternoon after the last conference session, ending with a free-to-all picnic! Don’t miss out!

Here’s the basic Saturday conference schedule:

Session 1: "Why come to America?" - Setting Boundaries for religious liberty.

Session 2: "How to exit England?" - Choosing between Boundaries of persecution v. Boundaries of Corruption in Society.

Session 3: "How to enter America?"- Creating Boundaries for a functional culture.

Session 4: "Problems in the Promised Land, or The Making of a Colony"- Developing Boundaries of Accountability

Session 5: Ladies Brown Bag Luncheon with Linda Peeler


Gary for the entire WCFS STAFF!

Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol

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