Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

21 June 1579 AD. San Fransciso Bay, 1st Sunday after Trinity, & Sir Francis Drake

21 June 1579 A.D.  Sir Francis Drake’s First Anglican Service on First Sunday after Trinity in San Francisco Bay area, CA.  This would make Rev. Robert Hunt’s services at Jamestown, VA secondary, if this story obtains.

Graves, Dan. “First Anglican Service in the New World.”  Jul 2007. Accessed 3 May 2014.

Sir Francis Drake and his men plundered their way up the coast of South America, robbing and killing Spaniards with glee. Their ship, the Golden Hinde was battered by the time they reached the coast of what is now California. On this day, June 21, 1579, the first Sunday after Trinity, they landed for repairs in "a convenient and fit harbor." That landing ushered in a significant date in church history.

No one is quite sure just where Drake touched, but it is believed to have been on the shore of San Francisco Bay near the Golden Gate. A couple days afterward, probably on June 23rd or 24th Drake and his men participated in a religious service.

Leading the worship was the Anglican clergyman Rev. Francis Fletcher, who was not only the ship's chaplain but Drake's "historian." The two men had not always see eye to eye. Notes from earlier in the voyage indicate that some rough play took place between them. Whether this was in jest, or whether Francis Drake really was angry at his chaplain is unclear. Whatever the circumstances, Francis Fletcher led the service--the first Protestant service in North America.

A number of Indians gathered to watch the men. Drake had worried that these natives were blaspheming, because they received the English sailors as if they were gods. And so the rough sailors lifted their hands to heaven and prayed God to open the eyes of the idolaters "to the knowledge of him and of Jesus Christ, the salvation of the Gentiles."

The ship's chaplain, Francis Fletcher, read from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. This was the first time that it was used within the region that would become the United States.

Today, a 75 foot tall sandstone cross stands on a rise in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park to commemorate the service. Anglicans and other Protestants make pilgrimages to the site which naturally holds a special attraction for them because of its historic association.


1.      City of San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. Historical Photo Archive.

2.      Drake, Francis (from notes by Francis Fletcher and others). The World Encompassed. London: Nicholas Bovrne, 1628.

3.      Thomas, George Malcolm. Sir Francis Drake. New York: Morrow, 1972.

4.      Various internet articles.

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