On April 26, 1607, the 104 settlers of the Jamestown Colony first arrived in the New World at Cape Henry, Virginia. The Reverend Robert Hunt, who had been appointed as the minister of the colony, officiated one of their first official acts after setting foot on land. He led the group in prayer. Three days later, they erected a wooden cross near the shore where they had prayer.
From Cape Henry, they sailed across the bay and up the James River, named for the King, and decided on a place to settle on May 13. Soon thereafter, they built a fort and a makeshift church, as adventurer John Smith records:
“When I went first to Virginia, I well remember, we did hang an awning (which is an old sail) to three or four trees, to shadow us from the sun; our walls were rails of wood, our seats unhewed trees, till we cut planks, our pulpit a bar of wood nailed to two neighbouring trees; in foul weather we shifted into an old rotten tent, for we had few better, and this came by way of adventure for new. This was our church, till we built a homely thing like a barn…yet we had daily Common Prayer morning and evening, every Sunday two sermons, and every three months the holy communion, till our minister died…”*
By all accounts, Rev. Hunt was a powerful preacher and a positive influence, taking care of the sick, working hard, and reconciling differences. When the log church burned down the following winter, with many other makeshift houses, Hunt lost everything. Smith records: “Good Master Hunt our Preacher lost all his Library and all he had but the cloathes on his backe yet none neuer heard him repine at his losse.”* In fact, Hunt went to work building the colony’s first grist mill. After his untimely death in 1608, even the swashbuckling Smith marveled: “Upon any alarm he was as ready at defence as any, and till he could not speak he never ceased to his utmost to animate us constantly to persist,—whose soul, questionless, is with God.”*
The spiritual influence and exemplary life of Rev. Hunt from the day the Jamestown settlers landed in the New World is a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Phil. 4:9-13 and reflect on Paul’s call to follow his example of contentment whatever his circumstances and compare that with the live of Rev. Hunt.
Prayer: Father, we are grateful for positive examples of contentment in Paul and the first pastor in Jamestown. Grant us the patience we need to persevere through times of suffering as well as the grace we need to accept times of blessing, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia, 2 vols., (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippencott, 1861), 1:64, 66; Edward Arber and Arthur Bradley, eds., Travels and Works of Captain John Smith President of Virginia and Admiral of New England 1580 1631, 2 vols., ( New York: Burt Franklin, 1910), 2:407.