A long time coming

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, June 8, 2017

One thing that strikes European visitors to America is how new everything seems.

Coming from a continent with castles dating back to the Dark Ages and highways that were originally laid out by centurions marching for the Roman Empire, Europeans have what one might call a long view of history.

Against that kind of background, America is surely the young upstart. But every once in a while, we are reminded that the history of the North American continent is equally rich, if not as well documented. Certainly the American Indians — and locally the Nansemond tribe of the great Powhatan nation — lived noteworthy lives and created vast kingdoms of their own.

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But sometimes it’s nice to be able to see an old building standing somewhere to remind us of our connection to those who have come before us. That’s one of the reasons the Nansemond Indians are building Mattanock Town — so that current generations can get an idea of what life would have been like for their ancestors in this area.

It’s also one of the reasons we love some of the old churches in Suffolk, churches like St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is celebrating its 375th years serving congregants from the site on what is now called King’s Highway near Chuckatuck.

There have been three different buildings on the site since the first church was built there in 1642, and the current structure is “only” 264 years old — a drop in the bucket, perhaps, on the European timescale, but still ranking as pretty old on the American scale.

St. John’s was founded around the same time as Glebe and St. Paul’s churches. Many generations of families have called themselves members. A few dozen families are active at St. John’s on any given Sunday, but the generational memories are still strong, along with the desire to remain relevant to the church’s mission in the community.

We tip our hats to this congregation and join them in their celebration. This anniversary has truly been a long time coming.