Saturday, July 4, 2009

For the Lack of an Interim, a War was Lost

A few years back I was at a meeting of Interim Ministers in Boston. Our outing consisted of going to Christ Church (Old North Church) where we had evensong with a fascinating homily given by the current rector. Built in 1723, it is the oldest active church building in Boston. According to him, the rector had left and a very unpopular curate was in charge. It seemed that the curate spent most of his time trying to get the post of rector.

We heard how even though Paul Revere was not a member of the church, he had been a bell-ringer there in his youth and the church sexton, Robert Newman, who of course had keys to the church, was a fellow Sons of Liberty. Newman was the one who climbed the tower and put the two lanterns there. He barely escaped because the British troops had also seen the message and were at the church door before he had gotten down the stairs. Newman escaped through a window near the organ.

General Gage was a parishioner of Christ Church and the majority of parishioners were loyalists. The current rector speculated that if Christ Church had had a proper interim, without all the intrigue of the curate (if I remember his story correctly, they wouldn't let him have the keys), entrance to the church might have been stopped and the Redcoats might have taken Lexington and Concord, and the notice posted at Old North today near a donation box which says "If it weren't for Old North Church, you might be making donations in pound notes" would be true.

Happy Fourth of July!

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