In 1623, the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts held the first Thanksgiving. As a drought was destroying their crops, colonists prayed and fasted, and miraculously it began to rain the following day. And not long after, a Dutch supply ship brought staples and supplies to the weary Pilgrims. This 1623 festival appears to have been the origin of Thanksgiving Day because it combined a religious and social celebration.

The Pilgrims were known as ‘separatists’ in England. That term was applied to them because they were literally separated from the Church of England. Their principal incentive was to find a place where they were free to worship God according to their vision of the church without government interference.

The Church of the Pilgrimage in Town Square, Plymouth continues to carry on the faith and understanding of the Pilgrim ancestors. Its founders originated from Scrooby, England in 1606 and traveled on the Mayflower.

In 1620, these brave men and women sailed to the New World to protect their English heritage and started a colony. They first arrived on Cape Cod, but the harsh weather and lack of drinkable water caused them to seek other shores. 

They eventually landed in the coastal town that would become Plymouth in December 1620 and started a colony and a church. The church today prides itself in being direct descendants of the Pilgrims’ first church. It was originally named the Pilgrim Church at New Plymouth.

The church is a historic landmark and is at the foot of Burial Hill, where the first fort was built by the Pilgrims that landed in Plymouth and where the earliest Pilgrims are buried. The first meeting house was also built there, and it was eventually replaced by five buildings, the latest built in 1897. The structure is an example of Georgian architecture with its large, domed bell tower and white clapboards.

In November 1840, a new church was dedicated in Town Square near the site of the Pilgrims’ first meeting house. From that date forward, the church has been known as The Church of the Pilgrimage.

The Church of the Pilgrimage is now a member of the United Church of Christ and has held close its legacy of worship for more than 400 years. The church is located at 8 Town Square in Plymouth, MA. For more information, visit

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.