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Putting It All Together

The following activities are designed to engage students in learning about Reverend Joseph Bellamy's life and personality and how it shaped colonial American religion, his community, and history.

Activity 1: Letter Writing
After students have completed Readings 2 and 3 and studied Drawings 1 and 2, ask them to imagine that they are theology students boarding with Reverend Bellamy and his family. In either groups or individually, ask the students to compose a letter to their parents describing their teacher, Reverend Bellamy, their surroundings, and what they are learning. In the letter the students should explore their reactions to the experience. Are they happy? Is Bellamy a fair and interesting teacher? Is he kind? Do they find it difficult studying in a household filled with children, servants, farmhands, students and visitors or does the atmosphere stimulate their interest?

Activity 2: Gravestone Design
Ask students to refer back to Bellamy's grave marker in Photo 2 and complete one of the following activities.

A. Students should select a prominent local figure now living--a civic or religious leader, sports figure, or entertainment celebrity--and design that person's gravestone and epitaph. In addition to drawing or modeling the design and presenting it to the class, have them explain what about the person's life, their appearance, career, or beliefs, influenced their design.

B. Gravestone designs changed over the course of Joseph Bellamy's life from grim death's heads to winged angels, reflecting the change from a theology that emphasized damnation to one that emphasized salvation. Near the time of his death, designs featuring weeping willows and urns became popular, recalling funeral imagery from ancient Greece and Rome. Have students visit a local cemetery and study a modern grave marker. They should photograph a grave marker, and then analyze what values and beliefs are reflected in the design and imagery of the marker. Have students present their findings in class.

Activity 3: Historical Research in the Community
Have students identify an individual who was prominent in the history of your community just as Joseph Bellamy was in the history of Bethlehem. Sometimes an historical individual leaves a great deal of evidence in one community, including home, church with pulpit, land ownership papers, and grave. In other cases the physical and documentary record may be scanty. Divide the class into small groups to investigate what documents, artifacts, historic places, and/or place names associated with the person remain in the town. Coordinate the historical research with groups that might be able to assist the students including church historians, town or courthouse clerks, the local historical society or architectural preservation league, local history reference librarians, or curators of university collections or museums.

 

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