Savannah, GA Newsletter, 1738

Whitefield's Radical Revivals Cause a Stir

Pre-Revival Anglicanism

Recent religious excitement has transported colonists to a mentality which could not be more different from what they were feeling just months ago. Here in Georgia, we have always clung to the Anglican church. This is partially because we feel we owe our success to our mother country and should therefore retain the religious culture of the Old World. The British officials imposing Anglicanism upon us in order to keep us in line with the king may also have something to do with it. But reason aside, the fact remained that the colonists of Georgia didn't experience an intense change or new beginning in religion when they came to the new world; it was essentially a continuation of the same in a different geographic location. Perhaps this previous lack of significant change is one of the reasons why this "Great Awakening" is having such profound effect. After all, the Anglican clergy were considered by some to be exceedingly dull, droning on through sermons consisting mainly of tedious doctrine and rarely of much emotion. Indeed, the clergy in Virginia were so dreary that they built the College of William and Mary for the purpose of training better clerics. The fact that we have no resident bishop to ordain ministers made things even more difficult. In short, religion was never previously a thing of great excitement or passion, but rather of obligation and increasing complications.

{New} Light Shed on the Subject

The change in religious participation and emotion since the Great Awakening (as it has been termed) has proved to be as great as the differences between night and day. Where before there were drab sermons and serious ministers there is now a totally foreign species of religious leaders taking over: the New Lights. With their emotional convictions and dramatic deliveries, these revivalists take religion to a new level. No longer are we colonists content to merely hear the doctrine and go on with our lives. We are now fully aware of how helpless and in need of our God we humans are. At one of the famous George Whitefield's recent revivals, he orated passionately on the horrors of Hell, enthralling the listeners and leading many of them to proclaim conversion. Church attendance has definitely skyrocketed where it was dwindling prior to this rejuvenation of spirit. Most residents are overjoyed at Whitefield's newly announced occupation as colonial chaplain here in Savannah, as his booming voice and eloquent words have proved to greatly enrich our spirits. According to public notion, even one of the greatest actors in England is envious of Whitefield's voice. We all look forward to hearing him again soon!

The Great Awakening: What Exactly Has Awoken?

The initial stirrings of the Great Awakening began almost 10 years prior to the present, and already we have seen potential for significant changes. Of course there is the general new feeling of excitement and high spirits that has swept across the colonies as well as increasing numbers of church attenders and conversions; people are seriously fired up! Without this monumental shift, who knows what the future would have looked like. Religion likely would not have been as present and we may have lost our momentum as newly established colonies from lack of fervor. Rumblings have long been heard of rebellion against England; they are now even more motivated because of the new unity washing over our colonies arising from undergoing a widespread and intense movement together as one people. This unity does not hold true within specific denominations because of schisms regarding new ideologies versus old ones and has caused many splits, resulting in less pronounced distinctions among denominations. Therefore these splits have essentially brought about unity, as there are no longer such defined boundaries. In fact, because the power of the revivals reaches beyond social stratification, even classes are less separate. Many colonists have adopted the idea that all born-again Christians are equal in God's eyes, bringing about much political rejuvenation. Will there ever be an end to this stream of radical notions? Many think not. Perhaps this Awakening has awoken commonalities among colonists that make us a truly unique and united people.
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