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HisDaughter
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« Reply #60 on: May 22, 2011, 09:21:39 AM »

May 22, 1498
Savonarola's Interrogation and Sentence

The young man left home secretly at 23, without parental approval, flinging aside years of medical and philosophical education, to join the Dominicans. Convinced of the reality of the after-life, with its dismal doom or glorious salvation, he became morose. An urgent sense of right drove him to denounce the morals of the day. At first his messages were too scholarly for the masses, but in time they gained power. Audiences pressed into chapel to hear him utter dark prophecies of the future of Italy and Florence.

Savonarola became one of the great names of his age. Pietro de Medici of Florence was a weak man. Savonarola's allies deposed the ineffectual tyrant and the priest became the city's effective leader, and a gadfly in the side of the corrupt Renaissance Pope, Alexander VI. He denounced papal iniquity and took political sides against the pope. Worst of all, from the Pope's point of view, he called upon Europe's leaders to dethrone the pontiff.

 Alexander in turn sought to bring down the puritanical friar who spoke with such vehemence against his pleasures and vices. Yet he was patient and could bide his time, for he saw that the political tide must soon turn against Savonarola.

For a time, Savonarola triumphed. A Florentine republic was formed. Savonarola's bullies burned the "vanities" of the city-- art works and books. No building had sufficient capacity to hold the thousands who came for his sermons. By 1498 all had changed. Poorly conceived policies, by no means all Savonarola's fault, starved the city. Its coffers were empty. Alexander VI threatened interdiction. While many of Savonarola's predictions came true, others failed.

The Florentines turned against the preacher they had lauded. A Franciscan challenged Savonarola to an ordeal by fire. Savonarola's disciple Domenico da Pescia accepted as his surrogate. Crowds gathered. The Franciscan backed out and used every device to prevent the test. Cheated of their spectacle, the crowds blamed Savonarola. The next day he was arrested.

Between April 9th and May 23rd Savonarola was tortured repeatedly and forced to recant. Each time, when he recovered from the torments, he renounced his recantations, the last time with such boldness that his interrogators quailed. On this day, May 22, 1498, he was interrogated one last time. Seeing that he could not be moved, his interrogators sent him shackled back to his cell and sentenced him to death.

The sentence was carried out the next day. Savonarola and two friars were hung and burned. Scoffers shouted, "If you can work miracles, work one now!" After he was dead, his hand flew up, two fingers extended, as if blessing the crowd. The crowd panicked and fled the square, crushing several children to death.

Bibliography:

1.Foster, K. "Savonarola, Girolamo." New Catholic Encyclopedia. New York : Thomson, Gale, 2002 - .
2.Lord, John. Beacon Lights of History. New York: J. Clarke, 1888-1902.
3.Roeder, Ralph. The Man of the Renaissance; four lawgivers: Savonarola, Machievelli, Castiglione, Aretino. Cleveland and New York: World Publishing, 1967, 1933.
4."Savonarola, Girolamo." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
5.Uden, Grant. Anecdotes from History: being a collection of 1000 anecdotes, epigrams, and episodes illustrative of English and world history. Oxford, Blackwell, 1968.
6.Various encyclopedia articles.
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« Reply #61 on: May 23, 2011, 09:58:40 AM »

May 23, 1891
Inexpensive Chapels on Wheels

In western movies and books, good sheriffs march into town and clean up with their six shooters. In real life, other forces were also at work.

Some Wild West towns grew up overnight. Others fell empty almost as quickly when mines ran out, or disaster struck and camps moved on. Usually the population was rough and ignorant of Christ.

Under those conditions, it didn't make much sense to go to the expense of putting up a church. The town it was built for might disappear before the building was finished. Bishop Walker, an Episcopalian, had a thought. Why not outfit railroad cars as a chapels? These could be pulled to where they were needed and would cost just two or three thousand dollars to buy.

 Whether Walker knew it or not, chapel cars were already in use in England on remote sidings. But he was good at selling his idea. Cornelius Vanderbilt, One of America's richest men, gave the first donation to the new ministry and Walker's first chapel car was delivered in 1890.

"The Cathedral Car," as it was called, traveled over seventy thousand miles during its ten years of service. Many of the men who visited it came merely out of curiosity, but untold numbers of others accepted the Christian way of life or were strengthened in their Christian walk through it.

On this day, May 23, 1891, the first of several Baptist rail cars was dedicated in Cincinnati Ohio. The "Evangel" seated one hundred worshippers. Ten feet wide and sixty feet long, it was the brain child of Reverend Boston W. Smith. He had help from Northern Pacific Railroad. Its General Manager ordered his people to hook the car to any of the company's engines at no charge. Prodded by a preacher brother, this railroad manager had also organized the syndicate that raised the funds to build "Uncle" Boston's cars. The syndicate's most prominent member was business tycoon, John D. Rockefeller. Baptist cars took names such as "Glad Tidings," "Grace," and "Herald of Hope."

Thomas Edison, an unlikely friend of the church who considered himself an agnostic, provided the rail chapels with his new invention the phonograph. Cowboys starved for music came to hear recordings. It was another practical drawing card.

Not everyone appreciated the idea of chapel cars. In Oregon, one car was pelted with eggs, marked with graffiti and set afire. It survived, protected by nobler individuals in the local population.

The Roman Catholic church built three cars. Altogether at least eleven of the iron-wheeled chapels went West. The idea was borrowed by other countries, too. The Orthodox used them in Russia, Presbyterians in South Africa and missionaries in China. It is a safe bet that America's chapel cars did more to tame the west than all the gunmen heroized in Hollywood films.

Bibliography:

1.Baynes, A. Hamilton. South Africa [Handbook of English Church Expansion] London: Mowbray, 1908. Source of image.
2."Chapel Cars of America." http://www.chapelcars.com/
3.McKernan, Mary. "How the West Was Really Won." Christian History Magazine. Christianity Today, 1996.
4.Various internet articles including the book review of Taylor, Wilma Rugh and Taylor, Norman Thomas. This Train Is Bound for Glory. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1999.
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« Reply #62 on: May 23, 2011, 05:07:48 PM »

Quote from: HisDaughter
May 23, 1891
Inexpensive Chapels on Wheels

Fascinating - this is the first I've ever heard about railroad churches on wheels.
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« Reply #63 on: May 24, 2011, 09:31:25 AM »

May 24, 1896
D-Day for the Volunteers of America

The prisoners eyed the beautiful woman with interest. How short she was! But it was obvious she cared about them. Not many other people did.

Maud Booth was is Sing Sing Prison, New York, on this day, May 24, 1896, because she had received a letter from a prisoner. He asked her to provide relief for his family, left destitute when he was locked up. On the envelope, the Warden scrawled an invitation for Maud to speak. Maud, a fiery speaker and ardent evangelist, took him up on it.

Now she told an assembly of prisoners: "I do not come here to prevent you from paying the just penalty of your crimes; take your medicine like men. When you have paid the penalty, I will help you. I will nurse you back to health. I will get you work. Above all, I will trust you. It depends on you whether I keep doing so or not."

Five Sing Sing prisoners made up their minds to follow Christ. By year's end, the Volunteer Prison League was formed. By 1923, over 100,000 prisoners had signed up for its programs. Maud championed prison reform to the end of her life. She set up Houses of Hope around the country to help ease ex-cons back into society. In one form or another these halfway houses remain to this day. Volunteers of America did as much to bring about twentieth century prison reform as any other organization--and probably more.

The Volunteers of America had emerged out of the Salvation Army. Ballington Booth, the son of General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, came to America to reorganize the Salvation Army work. General Booth didn't like the way Ballington "Americanized" the Army.

Following a sharp disagreement, Ballington and his beautiful wife Maud left the Army. On March 8, 1896, they announced they were setting up a new organization, God's American Volunteers (afterwards known as Volunteers of America).

The volunteers not only engaged in prison work. Wherever its leaders saw a need, they stepped forward to meet it. VOA sponsored disaster relief, helped found the Parent and Teacher Association (PTA), set up food pantries, provided lodgings for working men, affordable housing for the working classes, and even offered day nurseries for working mothers. Eventually it offered housing programs for the mentally ill and medical services to the poor.

When we total up the impact for good that Christianity has had on American society, we must not forget the important role of the Volunteers of America.

Bibliography:

1.Chesham, Sallie. Born to Battle, The Salvation Army in America. New York, New York: Salvation Army, 1965.
2.Foster, Warren Dunham. Heroines of Modern Religion. New York: Sturgis and Walton, 1913.
3.Volunteers of America. http://www.voa.org/
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« Reply #64 on: May 25, 2011, 09:27:29 AM »

May 25, 1830
American Sunday School Union's Huge Challenge


As if they were one person, two thousand delegates jumped to their feet. "Aye, aye," their bodies seemed to shout as they united in approval of the measure just introduced.

It was on this day May 25, 1830 in Philadelphia. Just six years earlier, on the same day, the American Sunday School Union had adopted its name and constitution. Now the members were pledging themselves to take on an enormous task. The motion that had brought them to their feet was this:

"Resolved, that the American Sunday School Union, in reliance upon Divine aid, will, within two years, establish a Sunday school in every destitute place where it is practicable, throughout the Valley of the Mississippi."

 In just two years they hoped to reach over 4,000,000 people in an area of over 1,300,000 square miles!

The first year the American Sunday School Union sent out 49 missionaries. The next year, they sent out 112. Such small numbers could not hope to do the job alone. And, of course, they weren't expected to. They were told to recruit helpers in every little community. Their instructions could be boiled down to this: Start a class, teach it, and where possible find a Christian man or woman willing to lead it, give that person a bundle of books and tracts and set him or her to work.

"We're all Presbyterians around here," someone might say in a challenging tone. "What are you? A Methodist?" The missionary could explain that his literature was non-denominational. It didn't promote any particular church. Instead it offered studies straight from the Bible. Thanks to the neutral tone of the lessons, the same Sunday school could belong to everyone. In one Illinois village, a Sunday school brought together three Catholic families, two Scottish Presbyterian homes, three or four Anglican households, several Baptists and some people who did not believe in Christ at all.

In those days there were few public schools. Sunday schools taught people to read and showed them how they could become voters. That made Sunday schools popular, making it possible for families to keep contact with distant members through letter writing. Education drew them into the life of the nation. And for families living alone in the woods or on the prairie, it was wonderful to look up and see the unfamiliar face of a missionary with news from the rest of the nation. Later, the Sunday School Union published Christian fiction that made reading a lot more fun for children.

The task was so big and the country was growing so fast that the job didn't get done in two years or in three. In fact, the American Sunday School Union was still hard at work under greatly different conditions in 1974 when it changed its name to American Missionary Fellowship.

Bibliography:

1.Boylan, Anne M. Sunday School : the formation of an American institution, 1790-1880. New Haven : Yale University Press, c1988.
2.Fergusson, Edmund Morris. Historic Chapters in Christian Education in America; a brief history of the American Sunday school movement, and the rise of the modern church school. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1935.
3."Our History and Heritage." American Missionary Fellowship. http://www.americanmissionary.org/history.shtml
4.Seymour, Jack L. From Sunday school to church school : continuities in protestant church education in the United States, 1860 - 1929. Washington, D.C. : University Press of America, 1982.
5.Various internet articles.
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« Reply #65 on: May 28, 2011, 11:53:28 AM »

May 28, 1938
The Kuhn's Rainy Season Bible School

After a giddy youth in which dances and flirtations had a prominent part, vivacious Canadian Isobel Selina Miller drifted into agnosticism and even contemplated suicide. But then she turned back to Christian faith and made up her mind to follow God wholeheartedly. Isobel heard a missionary speak of the satanically oppressed Lisu tribes of Southeast Asia, who had not a word in their language for compassion, forgiveness, mercy, or justice--but hundreds of words to describe the best way to skin someone alive. Isobel pleaded with the Lord to be allowed to serve them as a missionary.

"If you go to China it will be over my dead body," said Isobel's mother. Isobel was aghast. Her mother had raised her in the Christian faith and was a leader in missionary support. Now she was showing that personal affections mattered more to her than Christ's work. What is more, Isobel felt she must obey her mother as the Bible commanded. She was truly perplexed, for God seemed to be calling her to China.

 Miraculously the Lord provided the money she needed to attend Moody Bible Institute. Her mother's opposition ended abruptly with death by cancer. On her death bed Mrs. Miller confessed that "Belle" (her daughter's nickname) had chosen the better part and that her own works were as wood, hay, and stubble. Then John Kuhn entered Isobel's life. A few years later they married. John shared Isobel's vision and commitment. Through prayer and pluck the two achieved their goal of reaching the Lisu.

After years of labor, they had won few converts. Belle then had one of the most innovative ideas of their ministry. Why not set up Bible school during the rainy season? Little else could be done during that time. On this day, May 28, 1938, the first Rainy Season Bible School opened. The idea was successful beyond their wildest hopes. Thirty or so students became evangelists and reached distant villages for Christ. Many, on only a few weeks' training, gave their lives for Christ. Some carried the gospel while sick.

Isobel and John suffered greatly in their ministry. Often they were threatened. Sometimes they were separated for as much as a year at a time. During World War II the Japanese held their young daughter in a concentration camp. Every kind of privation dogged their steps.

By God's grace, they triumphed. Belle wrote eight books recounting her experiences with the Lord and his answers to prayer. Above all she wanted to overcome self and see souls won for Christ. "I would fall on my knees and weep before the Lord, asking for his help. And never did he spurn me. He was firm in correcting me but always loving. I have never attained the place where one is beyond the temptations of self. But I want to testify to what God can do to change a human being, one that found she was indeed -- scum." To the Lisu and the many who profited from her books she was a bright light.

Bibliography:

1.Kuhn, Isobel. Green Leaf in Drought Time. Chicago: Moody Press, 1957.
2.-------------- In the Arena. Chicago: Moody Press, 1958.
3.-------------- "Unprepared for the Cost." Moody Monthly. 83 (June, 1983) 46-9.
4."Kuhn, Isobel (Miller)." Anderson, Gerald H. Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. New York : Macmillan Reference USA; London : Simon & Schuster and Prentice Hall International, 1998.
5.Moreau, A. Scott. "Kuhn, Isobel." Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000.
6.Robinson, Gail. "Reading Between the Lives." Moody Monthly. 83 (Jun 1983) 43-4.
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« Reply #66 on: May 29, 2011, 08:03:05 AM »

May 29, 1593
John Penry Pleaded for Welsh Soulwinners

John Penry wept for Wales. In Elizabeth's England, there were far too few pastors assigned to teach the Welsh, and of those, many were absentees from their flocks or little better than rogues. Penry wrote Equity of a Humble Supplication in Behalf of the Country of Wales that Some Order May Be Taken for the Preaching of the Gospel Among Those People. He complained that thousands in Wales had almost never heard of Christ. "O destitute and forlorn condition! Preaching itself in many parts is unknown. In some places a sermon is read once in three months." He proposed a system of lay pastors supported in part with voluntary gifts from the people. His attack on the neglectful practices of the Church of England won Penry the undying enmity of John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Having become a Puritan separatist in his thinking, Penry could not accept a state-run system, because, as he phrased it, "The truth of Christ and ministry of Christ as it is his will be in bondage unto no antichristian power. If it be, it is antichrist's truth and ministry." Because of such outspoken views, and his stern warnings to the queen and her bishops, Penry had to flee at times. Eventually he would be hanged, making him a hero and martyr in Wales.

What sealed his doom was The Marprelate Tracts. These were satirical exposÚs larded with heavy-handed taunts at English bishops ("petty popes"), coarse talk ("Printed overseas, in Europe, within two furlongs of a bouncing priest") and silly sneers ("Ha, ha, Dr. Copycat!"). Their theme can be summed up in the words of the first tract: "Leave you your wickedness and I'll leave the revealing of your knaveries." An example of the knavery was confiscation of stolen cloth by one bishop for his own use. "Well, one or two of the thieves were executed and at their deaths confessed that to be the cloth which the bishop had, but the dyers could not get their cloth, nor cannot unto this day..." Penry was thought to have a hand in preparing the popular pamphlets although he denied it. While it is true that they were printed on the same press as his books, the general consensus today is that he did not write them. They weren't his style.

Captured, he was treated to a travesty of justice. Some strong words of warning against Elizabeth in his notebook were interpreted as treason. Archbishop Whitgift was the first to sign his death warrant. Penry was hauled off to be hanged on this day, May 29, 1593. A thin scattering of bystanders, none of them his friends, watched as the 34-year old departed this world at the end of a rope about four in the afternoon. He was not allowed to preach a final sermon.

He had, however, written a lengthy letter to his four daughters (Deliverance, Comfort, Safety and Sure Hope), none of whom was old enough to really understand yet what was going on; the eldest was four years, the youngest four months. In it he showed his deep affection for them: "Wherefore, again, my daughters, even my tenderly beloved daughters, regard not the world or anything that is therein..." He implored them to follow true faith: "And I, your father, now ready to give my life for the former testimony do charge you, as you shall answer in the day of the Lord, to embrace this my counsel given unto you in His name, and to bring up your posterity after you (if the Lord vouchsafe you any) in this same true faith and way to the Kingdom of Heaven."

Bibliography:

1."Great Non-Conformist Preachers of Wales." V Wales. http://www.red4.co.uk/Folklore/trevelyan/glimpse/ noncomformists.htm
2.Marprelate Tracts. Modernised spelling and punctuation by J. D. Lewis. http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/ marprelate/Tract1m.htm
3.Peel, Albert. The Notebook of John Penry, 1593. London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society, 1944.
4."Penry, John." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
5.Pierce, William. John Penry; His life times and writings. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1923.
6.Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge, 1961; especially "The Marprelate Controversy," pp. 164 - 166.
7.Various internet and encyclopedia articles.
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« Reply #67 on: May 30, 2011, 07:38:08 AM »

May 30, 339
Eusebius, 1st Church Historian

Suppose you are a survivor of an outlawed organization whose origins go back to around 1700, seventy-six years before America became an independent nation. "Tell the story of your people," you are urged.

The problem is, your people were an illegal group. In fact, the government tried to exterminate them! Their leaders were captured and killed and many letters and books burned. They left no public festivals, no monuments--very little by which historians ordinarily trace history. And to make your task more challenging, your people were scattered over most of the known world. How could you possibly put together their story? That is the kind of task Eusebius tackled.

His people were the Christians who had been persecuted for almost three hundred years. A measure of peace came to the believers when Constantine became emperor. At last the story of the church could be told.

 Eusebius was the one for the job. He had already prepared a chronology of the Bible and early church, trying to establish the dates of Christ's death and the events that followed. This was a difficult undertaking because many different calendars were in use at the time and he had to match up events recorded under one system to events recorded under others.

Eusebius' ten-volume history is our best authority for early Christian history. We owe him a special debt because he quotes from many sources that no longer exist. We are blessed that he showed interest in a broad range of material. He traced the lines of apostolic succession in key cities. Thus we know how the church progressed in the big towns. The church has always been nourished with the blood of martyrs. Eusebius told the stories of many who suffered for Christ.

He was also interested in debates over which books should be in the Bible and he gave us various views of the matter. Because of this we know a good deal about how we got the New Testament. Eusebius also traced the threads of heresy. Through him we know of challenges to orthodoxy in the early centuries of the faith. Above all, Eusebius described how God preserved the church and poured his grace upon it. Eusebius even followed the woeful fate of the Jews and their struggles.

Late in life, Eusebius was invited to become bishop of Antioch. He turned down the offer. His backers appealed to the Emperor to compel him to accept. Instead, Constantine praised Eusebius for refusing.

Eusebius died on this day, May 30, 339. He was seventy-four years old. In addition to all his other writings, he left behind him commentaries on Isaiah and on the Psalms, a geography of the Bible, and a concordance of the Gospels. He wrote books to clear up differences in the Gospels. Finally he produced an account of the Martyrs of Palestine whom he had personally known. But his history remains his most important contribution to the church, and the one by which his name will always be remembered, for it gave us our past.

Bibliography:

1.Aland, Kurt. Saints and Sinners; men and ideas in the early church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970.
2.Bacchus, F. J. "Eusebius of Caesaria." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
3.Barnes, Timothy David. Constantine and Eusebius. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1981.
4."Eusebius: He Saved our Family History." Glimpses #91. Worcester, Pennsylvania.
5."Eusebius." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
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« Reply #68 on: May 31, 2011, 09:20:08 AM »

May 31, 1792
William Carey Preached Deathless Sermon

The sermon that William Carey preached on this day has been called deathless. Mission text books agree that it changed the world. Thousands, perhaps millions have read or quoted the two most remarkable phrases from it: "Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God!"

A poorly-educated cobbler, William Carey always sought to teach himself new things. He was converted to Christ by dissenters (English Christians who operated outside of the official Church of England). Immediately he recognized that others also needed Christ. He began to preach and strained even harder to educate himself, going hungry--and allowing his family to suffer--so that he could buy himself books. He became a Baptist pastor.

 Reading Captain Cook's voyages gave him a heart for world missions. The people that Cook wrote about needed Christ. At that time, Protestants were doing little to spread the gospel world wide. Hans Egede in Greenland, the Moravians in the West Indies, David Brainerd and John Eliot in America had undertaken efforts, but the reformation church at large was idle.

But when William spoke up in behalf of missions, an older pastor responded with a withering rebuke. "Young man, sit down: when God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid or mine."

William sat down on that occasion, but he didn't sit back. He was the kind of man, who once he begins a thing, must go through with it. He gathered facts and statistics, Bible commands and commonsense arguments demolishing the position of those who said the church should do nothing. The result was a book called An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen.

On this day, May 31, 1792, at ten in the morning, he addressed his fellow Baptists at a Nottingham conference. He took as his Isaiah 54:1, 2: "Lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes, for thou shall break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. " As he saw it, this was a challenge for missionary work. It was a challenge for faith. "Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God!" he urged.

"If all the people had lifted up their voices and wept," said Dr. Ryland, "...it would only have seemed proportionate to the cause; so clearly did Mr. Carey prove the criminality of our supineness [lying down] in the cause of God!" But his listeners seemed indifferent.

At their meeting the next day, they said the venture was too big for them. Carey seized Fuller's arm and, in deep distress asked whether they were once more going to go their separate ways without doing anything. This final plea made the difference. The gathering put forward a resolution for drawing up plans to form a Baptist Mission Society. William Carey became their first missionary.

Bibliography:

1.Boreham, F. W. "William Carey's Text." Life Verses, Volume One. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel, 1994.
2.Harrison, Eugene Myers. "William Carey, the Cobbler Who Turned Discoverer." http://www.wholesomewords.org/ missions/giants/biocarey2.html
3.Webber, Daniel. "William Carey and the Missionary Vision." http://www.indialink.org.uk/15/careydw.rtf
4."William Carey; a Baptist Page Portrait." http://www.baptistpage.org/Portraits/print/ print_carey.html
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« Reply #69 on: June 01, 2011, 08:35:07 AM »

June 1, 1660
Mary Dyer Hanged for "Wrong" Faith


Did the Massachusetts Puritans rely too heavily on works and not enough on the grace of Christ? Some early settlers thought so. Salvation was by grace for those who were filled with the Spirit, taught Anne Hutchinson, and Mary Dyer agreed. To the Puritans this seemed antinomian, that is, opposed to law.

Mary Dyer was a "very proper and fair woman" according to Governor Winthrop. With her husband, William, she came to the New England colony in 1635 and joined a Boston church. At first all went well. But when Anne Hutchinson began to push her views, Mary agreed with them. William also adopted the ideas and was disenfranchised in 1637. When Anne was expelled from the assembly in 1638, Mary Dyer was the only person who would stand with her, accompanying her from the building.

Mary had a stillborn child and the congregation cruelly suggested this was the hand of God punishing her. They started a rumor that it was a monster. The Dyers were expelled from the colony and helped found Providence, Rhode Island.

Mary Dyer traveled to England in 1650. The views of George Fox, the Quaker, appealed to her and seemed the logical extension of what she already believed. She became a Quaker. On her return to Rhode Island she was arrested and jailed in Boston but released on her husband's entreaty. More and more she felt the need to spread the gospel as she saw it.

She made missionary trips into New Haven and Boston. In 1659 she visited Quaker friends who were jailed in Boston. Local authorities warned her to get out of town and not return. Return she did, however, and was condemned to die in September 1659. She was given a reprieve, however, although two Quakers who had traveled with her "to look the bloody law in the face," were executed.

Once more Mary Dyer put her life on the line. For the fourth time she defied the Massachusetts law. She was arrested and condemned to death, all pleas by family proving ineffectual. The authorities would not agree to let her go unless she swore never to return. This she would not do. "...in obedience to the will of the Lord I came, and in His will I abide faithful to the death."

On this date, June 1, 1660, the authorities hanged her. To them she was simply a hard-headed heretic. Like many of the early Quakers she was willing to pay the price for her faith. It seems that she even longed for martyrdom.

Mary left behind seven children. Quakers eventually won civil rights in America. Christianity, more than any other single force, has extended the human rights, despite ugly chapters such as this. Mary Dyer, with her gospel of grace was an important player in that battle.

Bibliography:

1."Dyer, Mary." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Scribner, 1958-1964.
2.Morton, Nathaniel. New England's Memorial, 1669. (Includes the account of the hideous monster).
3.Selleck, George A. Quakers in Boston, 1656-1964: three centuries of Friends in Boston and Cambridge. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Friends Meeting at Cambridge, 1976.
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« Reply #70 on: June 02, 2011, 09:18:58 AM »

June 2, 1780
The Anti-Catholic Gordon Riots

No Popes! Down with the Catholic Relief Bill." Shouting and shaking their fists, 50,000 people, all wearing blue badges on their hats and carrying blue flags, marched toward the House of Commons in London. It happened on this day, June 2, 1780.

For two hundred years, since the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Catholics in Protestant England had lived under restrictions. But after the Revolutionary War broke out in America, King George III's ministers thought it would be wise to pass a law freeing Catholics. Otherwise they feared that Ireland might grab the chance to revolt while Britain was busy fighting in America. Some officials thought it was a shame, too, that Catholics had fewer rights than England's other citizens.

 But Lord George Gordon, a retired navy Lieutenant, hated the Roman Church. He collected thousands of signatures on a petition to overturn the Catholic Relief Act that passed in 1778. With 50,000 people at his back, he marched to Parliament to present the petition.

The mob turned ugly. Smashing windows and breaking down doors, they looted Catholic homes and set them on fire. For over a week the rampage continued. Unpopular Protestant leaders suffered, too.

Writing a letter to a friend, Ignatius Sancho said, "Gracious God! what's the matter now? I was obliged to leave off--the shouts of the mob--the horrid clashing of swords--and the clutter of a multitude in swiftest motion--drew me to the door..."

He had already described at least a hundred thousand "poor, miserable, ragged rabble, from twelve to sixty years of age, with blue cockades in their hats, besides half as many women and children, all parading the streets, the bridge, the park, ready for any and every mischief." These rioters robbed anyone unfortunate enough to fall in their path.

The rioters broke into Catholic chapels and attacked London prisons: King's Bench Fleet and Newgate. Newgate, in fact, was set on fire, and all its prisoners freed. When the mob attacked the Bank of England, John Wilkes ordered his men to shoot. Several rioters fell dead. More people died in a brewery that caught fire. On the evening of June 6, Prime Minister Lord North barely escaped the mob by forcing his coach horses into a gallop. He lost his hat, which the crowd tore up. The pieces were passed around like trophies.

On June 7th, the government finally called the army in. By then, fires burned everywhere, and there was no way to fight them, because the mobs had destroyed the fire-fighters' equipment. Soldiers and horsemen began shooting into the crowds or charging into them with swords and bayonets. Close to 500 people were killed or wounded before the riot was stopped. Later, 52 of the ringleaders were convicted and about 25 executed for their part in the shameful episode. The act stood.

Bibliography:

1.Castro, J Paul de. The Gordon Riots. Oxford, 1926.
2.Pollen, J. H. "Gordon Riots." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
3.Various internet and encyclopedia articles.
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« Reply #71 on: June 03, 2011, 09:34:02 AM »

June 3, 1926
Bob Childress Headed for the Hills

Tension at the funeral was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Two seventeen-year-olds near Buffalo Mountain, Virginia, had been courting the same young widow. In a drinking bout, one stabbed the other to death. It was "normal" under such circumstances for more killings to break out. No one sat easy.

The pastor sensed the fear, too. Bluntly he said, "You are ignorant, silly fools who needed the grace of God to civilize you." The room grew perfectly quiet. All eyes fastened on him as he continued, "Sin is the cause of all this. It's sin."

Bob could talk as he did because he had grown up among these people. His earliest memory was from the Christmas he was three years old. He got drunk and woke up with a hangover the next morning. The grownups told him it was fine to be drunk; they thought being drunk made life bearable.

When Bob was six, Quakers started a school nearby. Bob's older brother encouraged all the children in the family to attend. Bob's parents were against it, but school won. Bob loved it and walked five miles each day to attend. When he was fourteen, the teacher married and left. The school closed. Bob joined other wild boys, drinking, playing poker, and throwing rocks at houses and churches. Killings were common. With his first $5 bill, he bought a .32 caliber revolver.

Bob couldn't figure out the constant fighting and killing. His jaw was broken; He was shot in the leg once and in the shoulder another time. "Time and again I saw men kill each other, men without hate in their system, but drunk and with guns and knives always handy....The year I was twenty I was hardly ever sober, not even in the morning. I was miserable and sick to my soul...." Bob reached the point he hoped someone would kill him. He almost shot himself.

One Sunday, after playing cards and drinking, Bob found himself drawn into a Methodist church. Revival services were going on. He attended church that entire week, and for the first time "felt a power stronger than the power of liquor and rocks and guns."

God showed Bob that only Christ could change Buffalo Mountain. In spite of humiliation and poverty (his suit didn't cover his wrists or ankles, and his twang drew laughs), he left home to get the training he needed. Bob longed for a ministry with the mountain people. Instead, he was offered a church with a new car and big bucks. The night before he had to give an answer, the Montgomery Presbytery told Bob, "We've got a [mission] field in the mountains where they're shooting each other, they're ignorant, they don't have a chance, they have no schools or Sunday schools. There's enough work to kill you, but we'll furnish you a living while you're at it." On this day, June 3, 1926, Bob and his family were packed in the car, headed for Buffalo Mountain.

For the next thirty years Bob poured himself out for the mountain people, establishing churches and schools. He visited five or more families a day. For years he had the only car on the mountain, and he took people to the doctor and the hospital. On Sundays he traveled a circuit of 100 miles on the mountain, preaching four or five sermons. In winter, when his car couldn't make it through the snow, he went to church on a mule or by horse and buggy. Under his ministry the mountain became more civilized and the killings less frequent. Christ changed the hearts of many people at Buffalo Mountain.

Bibliography:

1.Adapted from an earlier Christian History Institute story.
2.Davids, Richard C. The Man Who Moved a Mountain. Fortress Press, 1972.
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« Reply #72 on: June 04, 2011, 09:14:31 AM »

June 4, 1820
This Hymn Was More than a Coincidence

How long Pastor's prayer is this morning," thought Elvina.

Sitting in the choir loft, her mind turned to our need for salvation and the price Jesus paid for it. Words began to form themselves. She had to get them down. But she had no paper. Well, that wasn't quite true...

Scribbling on the flyleaf of her hymnbook, she wrote:

I hear the Savior say,
"Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all."

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Not bad. Not bad at all. After service, she handed the words to her pastor. Did his face crease into a little smile at this evidence of her "naughty" behavior? We may never know.

But we do know that an extraordinary "coincidence" took place that day at the Monument Street Methodist Church of Baltimore. Organist John Grape had recently written a new tune and given it to the pastor. The pastor saw that the tune and the poem fit together extremely well. So he united them. In that way one of the most beloved hymns of the church came into being.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I'll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calvary's Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered 'neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Elvina was 45 at that time. Born on this day, June 4, 1820, she was married first to Richard Hall and then after his death, to a Methodist minister, Thomas Meyers. She died in 1899.

Bibliography:

1.Butterworth, Hezekiah and Brown, Theron. The Story of the Hymns and Tunes. New York : George H. Doran Co., 1906.
2."Elvina M. Hall." www.cyberhymnal.org
3.Various articles in volumes of hymn stories and on the internet
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« Reply #73 on: June 06, 2011, 09:36:57 AM »

June 6, 1844
YMCA Became Associated for Christ

A strong argument can be made that Christians in voluntary associations have done more good for the world than all its governments put together. One such association is the YMCA.

The YMCA's first report expressed as well as anything the problem which led to its formation. "Until recently the young men engaged in pursuits of business were totally neglected. They were treated as though deprived of mind, as though formed only to labor and sleep...without a moment for spiritual or mental culture, without the disposition or even the strength for the performance of those devotional exercises which are necessary to the maintenance of a spiritual life."

Country boys like George Williams were appalled at the degradation of workingmen in London. Williams, who was strongly influenced by a rather unusual combination of religious forces--the British Quakers and the American evangelist Charles Finney--began a work among his fellow employees. Soon he had won many to Christ. A go-getter in business, too, he rapidly advanced to partnership in his firm (a drapery house) and used his own substantial wealth to support evangelical causes.

 On this day June 6, 1844, twelve men, all but one associates of Williams' firm, met in his bedroom and created the Young Men's Christian Association. Its original intent was merely to work with employees of other drapery houses. The era was one of evangelical advance. Associations to deal with the dreadful social and moral consequences of the industrial revolution were springing up everywhere in Protestant countries. The YMCA hired a hall and assumed the task of reclaiming men through lectures, exercise and innocent amusement.

Many prominent men threw their weight behind the work. Lord Shaftesbury was the YMCA's president for a time. Thomas Binney and other evangelical leaders gave their support.

The organization caught on like wildfire. Long before Williams' death in 1905, it had achieved a membership of 150,000 in Britain and half a million in America with thousands of branches worldwide.

For his service to the well-being of the nation, Queen Victoria knighted him. Today the YMCA does not have the evangelical impulse it once did. Nonetheless, it continues to promote physical and intellectual well-being in men and women throughout the world. Although now largely forgotten, its early nondenominational Christian ideals gave rise to an organization which bettered the lives of millions.

Bibliography:

1.Williams, George. Dictionary of National Biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. London: Oxford University Press, 1921 - 1996.
2.Williams, J. E. Hodder. The Life of Sir George Williams. New York: YMCA, 1906.
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