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March 13, 2009

America's leading scholars discuss 18th-century religious expression during CW's Religion Month in April

During Religion Month in April, Colonial Williamsburg’s guests have the opportunity to learn about the role of religion in the 18th century. Among the weekly programs offered are scholarly lectures each Wednesday, a musical program exploring the place of music in the American religious experience and videos on the Great Awakening in Virginia and on Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin’s dream to restore Williamsburg.

Programs take place at Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and include:

  • Link Among the Days, 3 p.m. April 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25 28 and 30. This video discusses Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin’s dream to restore Williamsburg to its 18th-century appearance and how helped the dream become a reality.
  • Gospel of Liberty, 4:30 p.m. April 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25 and 28. This video explores the Great Awakening in Virginia and the role of Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Samuel Davies, in the struggle for religious freedom.
  • Religion in George Washington’s Presidency, 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1. Jeffry H. Morrison, associate professor of Government at Regent University, lectures on religion in George Washington’s presidency.
  • The Gospel of Education, 12:30 p.m., Fridays, April 3, 10, 17 and 24. The Rev. James Waddell and Baptist preacher Gowan Pamphlet discuss the importance of learning to read so that all may read the Bible for themselves. Reservations required.
  • Shakers, Shape Notes and Shouts, 4 p.m. Mondays, April 6, 13, 20 and 27. Kelly Kennedy and John Turner perform and discuss music from the first and second Great Awakenings reaching across both the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Patrick Henry and the Presbyterians of Virginia: Prophets of Liberty, 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8. Learn about the Presbyterians of Virginia and the great orator Patrick Henry from Professor C. Jan Swearingen of Texas A&M University.
  • A Christian Sparta: Evangelicals, Deists and the Creation of the American Republic, 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15. Thomas S. Kidd, associate professor of History at Baylor University, speaks on the variety of religious persuasions that influenced the emergence of the American Republic.
  • A Sect Unto Myself: Interpreting Jefferson’s Religious Beliefs in Public History Settings, 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22. Gary Sandling Jr. of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation presents his views on the interpretation of Thomas Jefferson’s religious beliefs in public history settings.
  • The Biblical Image of the ‘Vine and the Fig Tree’ in 18th-century American Literature, 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29. Guests have the opportunity to hear Daniel Dreisbach, professor of justice at American University, lecture on the use of biblical imagery in American literature during the 18th century.

    Entrance to Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums is through the Public Hospital of 1773 at 326 W. Francis St. The museums will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through March 15 and then 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 16, 2009 to Jan. 2, 2010. For information call (757) 220-7724.

    Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

    Guests can learn the viewpoints of our nation’s Founding Fathers during several programs through April that include:

  • Faith of a Nation Builder, 10:35 a.m., Tuesdays and Saturdays, April 4 through 28, Governor’s Palace garden. Gowan Pamphlet or Thomas Jefferson discusses their views on religion.
  • Jefferson and Henry Present Their Views on the Separation Between Church and State, noon, Thursdays, April 9, 16 and 30, Kimball Theatre. Thomas Jefferson or Patrick Henry presents their respective bills concerning religion before the Virginia legislature in 1784. Reservations required.
  • Patrick Henry and the Relationship Between Church and State, noon, April 23, Kimball Theatre. Patrick Henry proposes legislation concerning the government’s support of Protestant congregations. Reservations required.

    The Kimball Theatre box office is open 3:30-7:15 p.m. For more information, contact the Kimball Theatre Box office at (757) 565-8588 or visit

    The Kimball Theatre, located in downtown Williamsburg’s Merchants Square, is owned and operated by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the not-for-profit educational institution that operates the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia.

    Two sites in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area offer religion programs year-round. The African American Religion Exhibit, located in the reconstructed Taliaferro-Cole Stable, stands near the site where the African American First Baptist Church met in the early 1800s in a carriage house. Today the stable houses an exhibit that traces the religious heritage of transported Africans and their descendants in Virginia and the development of an African American Baptist congregation in Williamsburg in the late 18th century.

    Colonial Williamsburg guests can discover the 18th-century movement toward increased religious diversity through a new audio program at the Presbyterian Meeting House in the Davenport Stable near the Capitol in the Historic Area. The program features narration by Patrick Henry –- portrayed in the Historic Area by Richard Schumann – who was greatly influenced by an evangelical Presbyterian, the Rev. Samuel Davies. Guests also hear a Presbyterian chaplain comfort a fallen American soldier on the battlefield at Yorktown and later preach to the French and American forces after the British surrender in 1781. Throughout the program, there are sounds of Presbyterians gathering in the meeting house and singing hymns. Reconstruction of the Davenport Stable as the Presbyterian Meeting House was made possible through a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis, Ind.

    A Colonial Williamsburg admissions ticket or Good Neighbor Card provides access to enjoy these programs.

    Colonial Williamsburg’s Religion History Month and other related programs are made possible through the generous support of the Kern Family Foundation of Waukesha, Wis.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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