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Our Sister Parish - The Angilcan Parish of Tyendinaga

The Angilcan Parish of Tyendinaga - Mohawk Teritory, Canada

The Mohawks lived in the Mohawk Valley of New York State long before European settlers arrived.  As colonists arrived from Europe beginning in the late fifteenth century, they found a well-established indigenous community.  In the seventeenth century, the Mohawks were introduced to Christianity, first by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and then later by missionaries of the Church of England.  In 1710, a delegation was sent to the Court of Queen Anne to request a chaplain and the necessary supplies to found a church for the Mohawks.  The Queen Anne Communion Silver and other sundries were sent in 1712 and the Queen Anne Chapel at Fort Hunter was established (see drawing at right).  For almost seventy years the Mohawks worshipped in peace, but with the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the Mohawks remained loyal to their alliance with the Crown and subsequently left the Mohawk Valley, eventually settling along the shores of the Grand River (near Brantford, Ontario) and the Bay of Quinte (near Belleville, Ontario).

The Queen Anne Chapel was desecrated by the Americans, who used it as a tavern and stable and was eventually torn down and its stones used to line the first Erie Canal.  All that remains of the original church are a few stones that were recovered and sent to the two Anglican churches in Tyendinaga and an historical landmark sign on the original site.  The original parsonage (rectory) is still standing and is presently a private home.

In 1784, the Mohawks arrived in Brantford and Tyendinaga and built churches in each community (St Paul's in Brantford and St George's in Tyendinaga).  Thus, the Queen Anne Chapel was perpetuated in the service of the people for whom it was established.

In a parallel development, however, in the City of Amsterdam, New York, the Episcopal Church of St Ann (pictured below left) was founded as a "geographic successor" to the Queen Anne Chapel.  Populated by non-native settlers, the church was meant to serve the burgeoning industrial town and its citizens while maintaining a connection to the original Church of England presence in the region.

In 1984, which was the bicentennial anniversary of the Landing of the Mohawks in Tyendinaga, a friendship was struck between the two parishes (see the declaration to the right, dated 8 July 1984).  A tree was planted in the churchyard of the Chapel Royal at Tyendinaga and visits were arranged from each parish to the other.  The pattern of the first few years was that the two parishes would each visit the other every year and that gifts would be exchanged.  This became too onerous an arrangement, and so, after a few years the visits alternated from year to year.  In 1988, when the Parish of Tyendinaga was building its first parish hall, the Queen Anne Parish Centre (at All Saints' Church), there was a shortfall in the funding for the project.  After praying for insight on a way forward, the Parish of Tyendinaga was grateful to receive from the friends at St Ann's a cheque for very nearly the exact amount that was needed to complete the project.  Such is the friendship between the two parishes!

Typically, on a weekend in the late summer or early autumn, the visiting parish travels to the host parish on Friday and a wine and cheese reception is held so old friendships can be renewed and new friends made.  Saturday is generally spent travelling to a site of historic or cultural interest during the day.  The day concludes with supper and a bit of entertainment for an hour or two.  The weekend wraps up with worship on Sunday morning and a farewell luncheon before the visitors return home.