Friday, February 5, 2016

For All the Saints: Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams

On the Episcopal Church calendar, Roger Williams (c. 1603 – 1683) and Anne Hutchinson (1591 - 1643) are honored today as prophetic voices. Williams was a colonial proponent of religious freedom and separation of church and state. When Puritan leaders exiled him from Salem, he established a settlement that he called Providence, which would be a place for dissenters seeking "liberty of conscience." For the first time in history, religion and citizenship were separate. Williams was also a forerunner in the Baptist Church in the colonies, advocated for good relations with Native Americans, and was a forerunner in calling for the prohibition of slavery in the colonies.

Anne Hutchinson was another colonial proponent for religious freedom and was also a pioneer for women in ministry and church leadership. Questioning the theology of ministers of Massachusetts Bay Colony, she was exiled from the colony and excommunicated. Hutchinson and her followers established the Portsmouth settlement with the encouragement of Roger Williams. As her Wikipedia page indicates, "She challenged the authority of the ministers, exposing the subordination of women in the culture of colonial Massachusetts. She is honored by Massachusetts with a State House monument calling her a 'courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.'"

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