Christian anniversaries 2012
A famous letter was written in AD 112 by Pliny, the governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, to the Roman emperor Trajan, asking for advice concerning the attitude to take in relation to groups of Christians in his province. This is a fascinating and vital piece of evidence concerning the activities of early Christians and the attitude of the Roman authorities to them.
Thomas Helwys founded the first Baptist congregation in Spitalfields, London, in 1612. He advocated the principle of religious liberty, and for this was thrown into Newgate prison, where he died by 1616.
Joseph Hart, hymnwriter and author of ‘How good is the God we adore’, was born to a devout nonconformist family in London in 1712.
The repeal in 1812 of the Conventicle Act and the Five Mile Act (two of the repressive laws passed in the 1660s) (52 George III, c 155) eased the position of Protestant dissenters in England.
8,000 English members of the Exclusive Brethren were expelled in 1962, because of their unwillingness to accept a decree from the leader James Taylor Jnr. forbidding contact with non-members. This particularly affected doctors and other professional people.
John Jewel’s Apology for the Church of England was published in 1562, as a defence of the Elizabethan settlement of the Church of 1559.
Thomas Sternhold’s and John Hopkins’s The Whole Book of Psalms was published in 1562. This rendered all the psalms into metrical verse, suitable for singing. Often referred to as the ‘Old Version’, it was the most popular hymnbook until Tate and Brady’s New Version of 1696. It includes William Kethe’s ‘All people that on earth do dwell’.
The song ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ was published in 1862 in Atlantic Monthly by Julia Ward Howe. Written on November 19 1861 after Mrs. Howe had met Abraham Lincoln, it soon became one of the most popular songs of the Union side in the American Civil War.
The New Bible Dictionary was published by IVP in May 1962. Edited by James D. Douglas, it featured contributions from a host of evangelical scholars, and is still in print, in its third edition.
10 William D. Rudland of the China Inland Mission died in 1912. He was the last survivor of the original Lammermuir party of 18 missionaries who came to China in 1866. At his death, CIM missionaries numbered over 1,000.
15 J. Edwin Orr was born in Belfast in 1912. An authority on the history of revivals, he is also remembered for the song ‘Search me, O God’, which he wrote in New Zealand in 1936 and set to a Maori tune, ‘Now is the hour’.
20 Francis Schaeffer was born in 1912 at Germantown, Pennsylvania. John Stott called him ‘a prophet for the 1960s’ for his work as an apologist for Christianity and as an evangelist, based at L’Abri in the Swiss Alps.
20 E.J. Poole-Connor died, aged 90, in 1962, and was buried at West Norwood, London. Struck by the isolation of many independent or undenominational churches and missions, he founded the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches in 1922 as ‘an association of mutual helpfulness’.
5 James Renwick was born at Moniaive, Dumfriesshire, in 1662. He became an itinerant and fugitive Covenanter preacher, ministering to many hundreds, before being captured and executed in Edinburgh by the royal authorities at the age of 26. He was the last of the Scottish Covenanting martyrs before the Revolution of 1688 brought an end to the rule of James II (VII of Scotland).
19 Adoniram Judson, his wife Ann and three others sailed from Salem, Massachusetts, in 1812, the first American Protestant missionaries ever to travel overseas. The Judsons became pioneer missionaries in Buddhist Burma.
10 The Titanic set sail from Southampton in 1912 on its disastrous maiden voyage. One of those who was booked to sail was J. Stuart Holden, rector of St. Paul’s Church, Portman Square, London. However, his wife needed surgery, so he cancelled his trip within 24 hours of departure. He thus survived to be a leader of the Keswick Movement. His signed ticket for Cabin D-11 is in the Merseyside Maritime Museum — the only surviving first-class ticket.
19 The Act of Uniformity of 1662 received the royal assent. This enforced the use of a revised Book of Common Prayer, which was unacceptable to Puritans in the C of E. All ministers had to give their assent before St. Bartholomew’s Day (August 24).
31 In 1912, the cornerstone of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA) was laid at 558 South Hope Street. The institute had been founded in 1908 to train lay people for practical evangelism in the explosively growing city. Lyman Stewart, a millionaire, who also financed publication of The Fundamentals, was one of the founders, and he secured the evangelist R.A. Torrey as head. BIOLA is now a large Christian university.
In this month in 1962, Rural Ministries was founded to give support to struggling country churches in the UK.
12 Griffith John ‘of Hankow’ died in London at the age of 80 in 1912. From Swansea, he went to China with the London Missionary Society and, during a 55-year ministry as author, translator and preacher, made a major contribution to the church, chiefly in Hubei and Hunan provinces.
31 George Hunter, pioneer missionary to Turkestan, was born in 1862 in Kincardineshire. Based in isolated Urumqi, Xianjiang (now called Tihwa, Sinkiang) for 40 years, he travelled widely, distributing literature and doing personal evangelism in seven languages.
19 Blaise Pascal, French Christian thinker and one of the great minds of Western intellectual history, died in 1662, at the age of 39. He devised the first-ever calculating machine. His Apology for the Christian Religion was incomplete at his death.
20 Henriette Auber died at Hoddesdon in 1862. The descendant of French Protestant refugees who came to England after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, she was a hymnwriter, some of whose hymns (in particular, ‘Our blest redeemer’) are still included in modern compilations such as Praise, Sing Glory and Hymns for Today’s Church.
20 William Booth, founder and first general of the Salvation Army, was ‘promoted to Glory’ in 1912, aged 83. 40,000 people attended his funeral.
24 In 1662, all clergy refusing to sign their acceptance of the new Act of Uniformity were forced to leave their livings. The final sermons they preached are very moving. This is known as the Great Ejection, when the Church of England lost 2,000 clergy (out of 10,000), many of the most learned and godly.
28 About this date in 1612, John Smyth, an early Baptist leader in the Gainsborough district of Lincolnshire, died in Amsterdam, where he and his congregation had gone to escape persecution in England, where no worship was permitted outside the Church of England.
12 Robert Roberts (Clynnog) was born in 1762 in Caernarvonshire and became an effective Welsh-speaking Calvinistic Methodist preacher, responsible with others for transforming the religious landscape of Wales. He had a profound influence on the better-known John Elias.
16 Henry Martyn, East India Company chaplain and evangelist to Muslims, died of tuberculosis on his way home to England in 1812 at Tokat in Turkey, aged 31. The self-sacrifice and zeal revealed in his Journals made him a model for many.
19 Billy Sunday was born in Iowa in 1862. After a career as a baseball player, he became an influential evangelist in the first decades of the 20th century. With his homespun, colloquial, preaching, based on a thorough knowledge of the Bible, he addressed the largest crowds of any evangelist to date.
28 In 312, two of the three rivals aspiring to be Roman emperor met at the Milvian Bridge north of Rome in a crucial encounter. On the eve of the battle, Constantine claimed that he saw a vision of a cross of light in the heavens, with the words, ‘In this sign conquer’. After defeating his rival, Constantine issued a decree legalising Christianity and eventually announced his own conversion. For good or ill, this was a turning point in relations between Church and State.
12 Peter Martyr (Pietro Martire Vermigli), Italian Protestant reformer, died aged 62 at Zurich in 1562. Converted while an Augustinian monk, he fled Italy, and spent some years, at Archbishop Cranmer’s invitation, as regius professor of divinity at Oxford, and contributed to the Prayer Book of 1552. On Mary’s accession, he was imprisoned, but later allowed to return to the Continent.
18 Ned Bernard Stonehouse died in 1962, aged 60, after a life spent in careful New Testament studies at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.
18 The discovery of the alleged Piltdown Man was announced in 1912, with the suggestion that it was the evolutionary ‘missing link’ between ape and man. After featuring in textbooks and encyclopaedias for a generation, it was demonstrated to be a hoax in 1953. Someone had deliberately combined the lower jawbone of an orang-utan with chimpanzee teeth and a medieval human skull.
31 Peter B?hler was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1712. Sent as a Moravian missionary to America, he passed through London in 1737, where he was instrumental in the conversions of both Wesleys.