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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Bruton Parish Commemorating 350th Anniversary

Bruton Parish Church will commemorate the 350th anniversary of the parish in 2024. (Bruton Parish Church)

WILLIAMSBURG — Bruton Parish is commemorating its 350th anniversary throughout 2024 with special programming, events, and lectures.

Bruton Parish Church’s name comes from the town of Bruton in Somersetshire, England. Famous parishioners include Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, Patrick Henry, and George Mason. The first rector was Reverend Rowland Jones.

The building was used as a hospital during the Battle of Yorktown (Revolutionary War) and the Battle of Williamsburg (Civil War). Formed from two parishes, the Middletown and Marston, in 1674, Bruton Parish was born. In its early years, the parish had 110 families.

In 1677, the church vestry ordered a church be built on land donated by John Page. The structure was dedicated on Jan. 6, 1684.

The Rev. Chris Epperson, Sue Warner and Leith Mullaly at the Virginia State Capital on March 6. State Senator J.D. (“Danny”) Diggs recognized Bruton parish’s 350th Anniversary year and the State Senate applauded the event. (Bruton Parish Church)

Leith Mullaly and Sue Warner are the co-chairs of the 350th Anniversary Commemoration Committee. The committee has been commemorating the anniversary in different phases. It spent the first part of the year looking back at the history of the church, it is now focused on learning about its present parish, and it will close out 2024 with planning for the future of the church.

2024 will be a year to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the founding of Bruton Parish Church. During those three and a half centuries, millions of people have entered the church seeking the inspiration of the word of God through worship, study, music, community service and fellowship. All who have done so have become a part of our church’s enduring story,” according to the church’s website. 

On January 21, the group held a mass where parishioners came in traditional colonial attire. The mass was celebrated with prayers from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  After the mass, parishioners gathered to celebrate with food and fellowship that would have been found in the 1600s.

Various photos from the commemoration mass in January. (Bruton Parish Church)

On March 6, Sen. Danny Diggs honored Bruton’s efforts by inviting Mullaly, Warner, and current reverend Chris Epperson to a legislative session. He presented them to the state Senate for their preservation efforts.

“Our church has been an active, ongoing congregation for all these years. It’s not just a historic building that visitors can wander through. It’s so easy for people to think ‘oh it’s just a part of Colonial Williamsburg,’ but in fact, it’s a very active place,” Mullaly said.

On April 27 at 8 p.m., the church will hold its annual John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Concert. The annual concert will feature music from the past and present. Planned works include Handel’s “O Come, Let Us Sing” and Andrew Carter’s “Musick’s Jubilee.”

The committee continues to look at ideas for the commemoration including a possible time capsule, participating in 350 random acts of kindness, creating a commemorative hashtag, and more.

As the commemoration progresses through 2024, we will let you know about upcoming events, inviting participation by members of all ages and the community at large. We personally invite you, especially if you have not recently attended a church function, to join us for these events to enjoy the Bruton family fellowship as we together thank God for the blessings showered upon us in our first 350 years, and we look forward with joyful anticipation to the next 350,” the website says.

Looking at the events thus far, Warner has been filled with a sense of pride to watch the community come together.

“It has been heartwarming to see the interest in the history of Bruton Parish Church and the role it has played in the community and the larger colony of Virginia. The level of engagement and fellowship is impressive. The partnerships with Special Collections at the Swem Library and the Rockefeller Library as well as Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary have been enormously helpful,” Warner shared.

To stay up to date on upcoming events to commemorate the 350th anniversary, visit brutonparish.org.

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