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American spirit across the centuries celebrated at annual St Paul's Thanksgiving Day service

The spirit of responsibility and community held by all Americans has been celebrated at the annual Thanksgiving Day Service in St Paul's.

More than 1,500 UK-based Americans came to the Cathedral on the morning of Thursday 23 November 2017 for the service, which featured the traditional proclamation given by the US Ambassador to the UK.

Speaking for the first time since taking the post, Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson spoke of the spirit of responsibility and community that was born with the first Pilgrims and which lives on in the heart of every American today. He said: "When times are tough, when people are in need, we pitch in and we help each other. Not for reward or credit. But because we know that helping other people is the greatest thing we can do."

He looked back at World War Two, the terror attacks of 9/11, and the more recent devastating hurricanes as moments when Americans - soldiers, first responders and ordinary citizens - pulled together. "This is the spirit of the American people", he said. "We help each other out. For us it's not just a duty to service our country. It's an honour."

The Dean of St Paul's, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, said of the USA: "We give thanks for that nation's history, for its inheritance of faith, for its tradition of liberty, for its defence of freedom, for all that we have received at God's hand."

The sermon was given by the Reverend Jennifer Mills-Knutsen, Senior Pastor at the American International Church in London.

Staff and members of the American Embassy, the US Armed Forces, the American International Church, the International Community Church and a number of UK-based American schools took part in the service, alongside the combined Choirs of the American Congregation.

The congregation sang a number of hymns, including America the Beautiful.


St Paul's has had a long relationship with the American people, formed largely after the Second World War, a conflict in which thousands of Americans based within the UK were to give their lives.

The most visible striking reminder of this sacrifice and subsequent deep friendship can be found beyond the High Altar at the very east end of the Cathedral, in the American Memorial Chapel - a space rebuilt after being destroyed in the Blitz and dedicated in its entirety to the American dead of WW2.

Read more about the American Memorial Chapel