Four hundred years ago this month a motley crew of English adventurers came ashore on what is now Baffin Island in the midst of their explorations for a northwest passage to the riches of the Orient. Their purpose? Of all things -- to hold a Church service !
It was the third expedition of Martin Frobisher, and, since one of its purposes was to establish a colony of 100 persons if possible, Frobisher had been instructed,
"That a minister or twoo do go in this jorney to use ministration of devyne service and sacraments, according to ye churche of England."
Therefore, Master Wolfal of the Diocese of Bath and Wells, scholar of King's College, ordained by the Bishop of London in April 1569 got the job -- and found himself on the barren northern shores of our country about to make history by celebrating the first Anglican Holy Eucharist in the New World.
He appears to have done well. Here is what the records tell us,
"Maister Wolfall on Winters Fornace (Baffin Island) preached a godly Sermon, whiche being ended, he celebrated also a Communion vpon the lande, at the partaking whereof, was the Captaine of the Anne Fraunces (Best himself) and manye other Gentlemen & Soldiers, Marrinters & Miners wyth hym. The celebration of diune mistery was ye first signe, seale & confirmation of Christes names death & passion euer knowen in all these quarters."
The service itself would have been taken from the Prayer Book of Queen Elizabeth I which had been issued in 1559.
To commemorate this historic event the Anglican Diocese of the Arctic will hold its Diocesan Synod at Frobisher Bay the last week in August this year . During the Synod a special Commemorative Holy Eucharist will be celebrated with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Donald Coggan, as Preacher.
The Chief Celebrant at the Eucharist in St. Jude's Cathedral on Wednesday evening, August 30, will be the Rt. Rev. J.R. Sperry, Bishop of the Arctic. In addition to Dr. Coggan, other Church dignitaries attending will be, the Most Rev. E.W. Scott, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; the Most Rev. F.H.W. Crabb, Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert's Land; the Rt. Rev. G.F.C. Jackson, Bishop Ordinary of the Armed Forces; the Rev. Jens C. Chemnitz, Lutheran Bishop of Greenland and the Rev. Jean Dufour O.M.I., representing Roman Catholic Bishop O. Robidoux.
The Commissioner of the North West Territories, Commission S.M. Hodgson and the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Hugh J. Faulkner, will represent the two levels of Government in the North at the Service.
The Holy Eucharist this time, unlike its counterpart four centuries ago, will be largely in the Eskimo language and all English parts will be simultaneously translated.
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