Christian anniversaries in 2013
Here are some encouragements and challenges from the past.
The monk Columba sailed from Ireland, with 12 companions, and after a perilous journey landed on the island of Iona in 563. He founded a monastery there to train young men for the evangelisation of the North Picts.
The Thirty-Nine Articles, defining the position of the Church of England, were sanctioned by Convocation in 1563. Historically, all clergy in the Church of England have been required to subscribe to them.
Daniel Rowland was born in 1713, and became one of the foremost leaders in the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist movement in the 18th century. For much of his life he served as curate first to his brother and then to his own son at Llangeitho, Cardiganshire, and was such a compelling preacher that thousands flocked to hear him on Communion Sundays.
The Spanish Gospel Mission was founded in 1913. An Englishman, Percy Buffard, had been a teacher of English in Spain, and, appalled by the general ignorance of the gospel which he found there, trained as a missionary and returned to work in Spain, with the support of some friends. The Mission, and Spanish Protestant Christians, suffered persecution and considerable hardship during the Spanish Civil War and Franco era.
Operation Mobilisation organised its first summer short-term mission teams in Europe and the Middle East in 1963, involving over 2,000 people.
Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, started writing the City of God in 413, as a direct consequence of the sack of Rome in 410.
John Foxe’s Actes and Monuments, popularly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, was first published in 1563. Many homes possessed a copy, and the book profoundly affected Elizabethan England.
John A. Robinson’s Honest to God was published by SCM Press in 1963. Robinson, who was Bishop of Woolwich, spoke of God as ‘the ground of our being’ and questioned the validity of traditional credal statements, such as that Jesus Christ ‘came down from heaven’.
The Edict of Milan, issued by the Roman Emperors Constantine and Licinius in January 313, granted religious toleration in the Roman Empire, and persecution of Christians virtually ceased.
22 Carl Henry was born in New York City in 1913, the son of German immigrants to the USA. Converted in a newspaper office, when working as a journalist, he helped to establish Fuller Theological Seminary in 1947, and was the first editor of the magazine Christianity Today founded in 1956 to be a scholarly voice for evangelical Christianity.
19 The Scottish medical missionary and explorer David Livingstone was born in 1813 at Blantyre in Lanarkshire. In the quest for unevangelised peoples, he travelled more than 30,000 miles in the continent of Africa, discovering the Victoria Falls and Lake Nyasa, and exposing the Arab slave trade.
22 August Hermann Francke was born in 1663. A leader of German Pietists and both a professor at the University of Halle and a pastor in a nearby church, he founded a famous orphanage there, which was serving over 2,000 children by the time of his death.
7 William Grimshaw died in 1763, aged 54, at Haworth in Yorkshire, where he had been minister for 21 years. Converted after he had been ordained, he preached in plain language to huge crowds in his church, despite the remoteness of the area, and also throughout Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire.
9 W.W. Borden (Borden of Yale) died, aged 25, in 1913. Despite being heir to a huge family fortune, he resolved to be a missionary to the Muslims of Gansu province, N.W. China, but died in Egypt, where he was learning Arabic, of cerebral meningitis. A report of his death was carried by most of the American national newspapers, and his biography, written by Mrs. Howard Taylor, proved inspirational. His personal Bible was found to contain the hand-written phrases, ‘No reserves, no retreats, no regrets’.
5 Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, was born in 1813. In his highly introspective writing, he stressed the transcendence and otherness of God, was fiercely critical of organised religion and is remembered as referring to faith as a ‘leap in the dark’.
12 A.W. Tozer died in 1963. Largely self educated, he was a pastor in Chicago for over 30 years and had a world-wide ministry through his writings and as editor of The Alliance Witness. He stressed the overwhelming majesty of God and the priority of worship, and challenged the superficiality of many evangelical churches.
21 Robert Murray M’Cheyne was born in 1813. His seven-year ministry at St. Peter’s, Dundee, the quality of his spiritual life and his preaching profoundly influenced his generation and succeeding ones, despite the fact that he died at 29. He wrote the hymn, ‘When this passing world is done’.
25-26 The Baptist Union was founded in 1813 among Calvinistic Baptist churches. This was not intended to impose anything on individual independent congregations. Among its aims were to encourage support of the Indian mission of William Carey, to promote evangelism in England, to support the training of ministers and to relieve ‘aged and necessitous ministers’.
1 William Huntington, eccentric preacher and founder of a group of Calvinistic independent churches, died in 1813.
1 John Venn died at Clapham, aged 54, in 1813. As rector there, he had been closely identified with the activities of William Wilberforce, Zachary Macaulay and other members of the ‘Clapham Sect’ of political activists. He was involved in the founding and early running of the Church Missionary Society.
1 The first Wycliffe Bible Translators Summer Institute of Linguistics was held in 1963 at Pendell Camp, Merstham, Surrey.
13 Adoniram Judson arrived as a missionary in Rangoon, Burma, in 1813, his wife Ann having miscarried their first child on board ship. Although an expert linguist, it took him three years to learn the difficult Burmese language, and progress among the Buddhists was slow, but in 12 years 18 of them professed conversion and Adoniram had started translating the Bible into Burmese.
6 James Orr, Scottish theologian, died in 1913. Working in the heyday of theological liberalism, he wrote in defence of orthodox Christianity and was one of the contributors to the papers called The Fundamentals, which were issued 1909-15.
13 The Canadian W. Stanford Reid was born in 1913. His career as Presbyterian minister and professor of history at the universities of McGill and Guelph brought together church and academy. Like John Knox, whose biography he wrote, Reid was unapologetic in his defence of the gospel, and had a wide and effective influence, which continues today through the Stanford and Priscilla Reid Foundation which he and his wife established.
28 Martin Luther King led the ‘Great March on Washington’ in 1963, calling for civil and economic rights for African-Americans, and, standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his historic ‘I have a dream’ speech on racial harmony. This was widely credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965).
22 C.S. Lewis, the Oxford don who described himself as ‘the most reluctant convert in all England’ and subsequently became a notable apologist for the Christian faith and author of the ‘Narnia’ books, died in 1963.
8 Granville Waldegrave, 3rd Lord Radstock, an evangelist and preacher, died in 1913. During the 1870s, he made several visits to Russia, when there was a ‘Great Awakening’, and he built the Eccleston Hall in Belgravia, London, to be a centre of Christian activity.
9 George Campbell Morgan, Bible teacher and preacher, was born in 1863. He was minister of Westminster Chapel, London, 1904-17 and 1933-45, and a prolific writer of Bible commentaries.
30 Frederic Monod, a notable French pastor in Paris, died in 1863. Profoundly influenced when he was a student in Geneva by the Scot Robert Haldane, he started the first Sunday School in Paris and founded the Union of Free Evangelical Churches of France in 1849.