My ancestor William Currie, Anglican minister at St. Davids in Radnor, Pennsylvania for many years prior to the Revolution, was unable to reconcile continuing his ministry while the colonies were in armed rebellion against the king and head of his church. His original letter of resignation hangs on a wall in an antechamber of the church, along with a typed transcription which I reproduce here:
"To the Wardens and Vestrymen of St. David's Church
May ye 18th, 1776
Age & infirmity have rendered me unable to officiate any longer, I take this method to inform you that I shall decline attending your church any more, but though providence has so ordered that I Serve you no more in public, yet God forbid that I should cease to pray for you in private; No: as I have taken the best care I was able under an infirm State of health to Shew you the good and right way, So while I breath(e); I will not cease to pray that God may give you his grace and enable you to walk in it - - - And as I Shall not cease to pray for you,, I beseech you neglect not to pray for your Selves. Prayer is at all times your duty, but more especially in troublesome times. When deprived of the Church, make use of the Closet, and there pour out your Complaints to him who Seeth in secret, & will in his own good time reward you oppenly (sic).. A Devout man 'tho he has but his Chamber to retire to, and his doors be shut upon him, yet he lives as it were in Goshen. When flashed of Judgement burst upon other persons, tis calm in the prayer room. When the destroying Angel has overrun every house in Egypt with death, when there was nothing but Carcasses & Crying in each dwelling, There was not one Shriek in all the land of Goshen. When a thick darkness fell upon the nation, the praying Israelites had light in all their dwellings. And when a Sad Dark Cloud Sits as it were on God's countenance and pours down Innundations (sic) of Tempests upon a careless lukewarm & Backslideing (sic) people, yet even then, his face Shines in the Closets of Devotion, there he breaks in & reveals his comforts, as is So there as his Angel was, at that time a Pillar of Light to the one, & of a Cloud to the other. Let the devotion Chamber be your Sanctuary till these troublesome times be overpassed, flee for refuge to the horns of the altar, the Throne of grace, there offer up the Incense of your prayers, & let the lifting up of your hands be as the evening Sacrifice. Thus my dear little flock I bid you heartily farewell. & and am with great love and affection your faithful pastor till death.
Clearly there was much more behind this resignation than failing health. Scots born Reverend Currie was in his 66th year of life and 40th of his Pennsylvania ministry when he stepped away from the pulpit. He was unable to violate his ordination vows by omitting the Anglican prayer for the King, and with Congress now debating Independence the mood of the rebellion had gone farther than he was prepared to go. Three of his sons were either then inn the service or about to march to war, but of these Ross Currie had been captured during the failed Canada expedition and would later join the Pennsylvania Loyalists as an officer, Dr. Alexander Currie would soon resign as Surgeon of Atlee's musketry Battalion (again citing ill health but subsequently settling in the West Indies), and my ancestor Richard Currie would die of disease that September contracted in service with the 1st Pennsylvania (Chester Valley) Militia in the Flying Camp. Richard's orphaned children undoubtedly lived with their grandfather Reverend Currie, as indeed the old minister did after the war with his grand daughter, my ancestor Margaret (Currie) Walker.
Reverend Currie returned to his flock after the war, reinstalled as pastor in 1783. He is buried by the old St. David's church wall, next to the graves of his son Richard and daughter-in-law Hannah (Potts) Currie, which I visited last week when I was in the neighborhood. .Richard's colonial era Stars and Stripes flutters near the upper right corner of Reverend Currie's tomb.