GEORGE MOXON SPEAKS!

Well, not in his own voice – but in the voice of Stephen Hirst, an actor from Yorkshire in the UK who performed a George Moxon sermon from 1640. My deep gratitude to Stephen, and to Pathways Videos (Peter Thornton and Ray Riches); Gilly Walker, and Madelline Cullinane, wardrobe mistress of Hebden Bridge Little Theatre.

I plan to upload the entire 20-minute sermon, but for now brief excerpts may be found at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL2xoGgDGweOO5JzY5Lyclw/videos.

Stephen Hirst as Moxon

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A 1640 SERMON IN 2017?

Coventry 1-sm

 Can a George Moxon sermon be preached today?

I believe historical sermons can be presented in contemporary settings — if they are carefully selected and accompanied with appropriate explanations, such as glossaries of outdated words and editorial clarifications (hopefully kept to a minimum). In fact, I preached a February 23, 1640 sermon by George Moxon in Coventry, CT, in July, 2017. The text can be found on pages 69 – 75 in “Good and Comfortable Words.” I renamed it, “Drawing Comfort From God.” My thanks to the people of  First Congregational Church, UCC, of Coventry for offering helpful feedback, the Rev. Carol North, a parishioner of that church, for helping to lead the service, and the Rev. Stephen Washburn, their interim minister, who made this experiment possible.

 

THE SPRINGFIELD MEETINGHOUSE

 

Simsbury meetinghouse 2-smAfter the first meetinghouse (for both church and community gatherings) was built in Springfield, MA, in 1645, residents of the plantation on the Connecticut River heard the sermons of the Rev. George Moxon in that building. The photo shows the replica meetinghouse in Simsbury, CT, built in 1970. It has an unusual two-turret design, which may have been inspired by the earlier Springfield meetinghouse. One turret was for the bell, which William Pynchon purchased for £5 and sold to the community. The other was to accommodate the night watch. The building stood on Court Square, at the corner of Main and Elm Streets. Records report that it had a shingled roof (as pictured) rather than the usual thatched roofs which were more vulnerable to fire.

Originally the meetinghouse was a single barn-like hall, open all the way to the ceiling. In 1649 John Pynchon was allowed to create a storage room for corn by installing a second floor. Two years later safety concerns led the town to extract a promise from Pynchon, that he would to install supporting beams if he put more than 400 bushels of corn in the upstairs room. But as the community’s population grew, corn was stored elsewhere, and the central sections of that floor were removed, which left a second floor gallery on three sides of the building. The benches installed in the gallery were accessible by a single stairway, which was probably in the southeast corner of the meetinghouse.