Church ‘Pilgrimage’ celebrates history

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 8, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Historic St. Luke’s Church in Isle of Wight County observes its &uot;46th Annual Pilgrimage Service&uot; at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 18, and the public is invited to share in this event. The esteemed church, built around 1632 in Isle of Wight County, is the oldest surviving church of Anglican foundation in the US. It is also the oldest surviving Protestant church in the U.S. The church has held the annual service since its restoration to a 17th-century appearance in 1957.

The Rev. Gary J. M. Barker, the rector of Christ Church in Smithfield and vicar of Historic St. Luke’s, will conduct the special service.

Email newsletter signup

During the Pilgrimage Service, two students will receive scholarships to continue their education.

In a tradition initiated by the late Mills E. Godwin Jr., St. Luke’s will award one scholarship to a graduate selected from either Smithfield or Windsor High School and one from Isle of Wight or James River Academy.

Richard Lee Austin, curator for of St. Luke’s for the past 20 years, said Godwin was a member of the Historic St. Luke’s Restoration Inc. Board of Directors.

&uot;For many years, he wanted to establish scholarships for deserving seniors,&uot; said Austin. &uot;The foundation met twice a year and 11 years ago, they finalized plans to provide scholarships to students.&uot;

The two scholarships will be awarded; the Historic St. Luke’s Scholarship and Fourth Annual R. Franklin and Arbee R. Edwards Memorial Scholarship. The Edwards scholarship is from a trust administered by the Norfolk Foundation. Both scholarships are for $3,000 per year and are renewable for up to four years of college if a prescribed grade point average is maintained.

This year’s recipient of the Historic St. Luke’s Scholarship is Nicholas Timothy Summitt, son of

Mark and Patricia Summitt of Carrollton. Summitt graduates ninth in a class of 197 students at Smithfield High School. He will attend the College of William and Mary majoring in computer science with studies in religion, music and philosophy. He plans a career in computer animation or computer graphics.

The recipient of the R. Franklin and Arbee R. Edwards Memorial Scholarship is Maurice Darrell Harris, son of Mrs. Ollie R. Harris of Smithfield. Harris will graduate 51st in his class of 197 students at Smithfield High School. He will attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and pursue a career in mechanical engineering, with a minor in business administration. After receiving his bachelor’s, he plans to continue with graduate studies in mechanical engineering.

Continue its custom of honoring a family with strong association to the church, St. Luke’s will honor the Hodsden family this year. Rev. William Hodsden was the Rector of the church in 1680. A second William Hodsden served as a vestryman at the time of the disestablishment of the Anglican church in 1778. Vestryman Hodsden took the church’s original 1629 Bible with him for safekeeping when the church was abandoned. It became their family Bible, which was brought back every year during &uot;homecoming&uot; services. When the restoration of the church was completed in 1957, the family brought the Bible back permanently. It is used every year during the Pilgrimage Service, which replaced the &uot;homecoming.&uot;

A second Bible will be returned at this year’s service. Rita Stubbs of Windsor, daughter of the late James Smith of Isle of Wight, will return an 1847 Bible given to the church following the completion of the 1895 renovation. Quincy Gilliam, Sr., a member of the Restoration Committee gave the Bible to Mr. Smith in the 1950s since it was from the 19th-century, and not the 17th. The church had no way to store the items from the nineteenth century at that time. Long term plans to build a museum will provide an appropriate location to display items from the church’s earlier renovation.

William Hodsden of Suffolk will serve as the keynote speaker, providing a brief history of the Hodsdens of Isle of Wight and Nansemond Counties.

The public is invited to attend this special service and meet our special speaker, students and presenter. Following the service, refreshments will be served. Historic St. Luke’s is at 14477 Benn’s Church Blvd. in Isle of Wight County at Highways 258 and 10. For more information, call 357-3367.