Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Tuesday, December 31

439
Death in Jerusalem of Melania the Younger, known for her charity, and for founding two convents.
1712
Birth of Peter Bohler, the Moravian missionary who, at age 25, influenced the religious spirit of John Wesley. Bohler taught the founder of Methodism the joys of personal conversion and self-surrendering faith, and Wesley later incorporated these spiritual emphases within Methodist theology.
1770
America's first-known "watch-night" service is held at St. George's Methodist Church in Philadelphia.
1823
Birth of William O. Cushing, American clergyman. He penned over 300 hymns, among them "When He Cometh," "Under His Wings" and "Hiding in Thee."
1837
Birth of John R. Sweney, American sacred chorister. He composed over 1,000 gospel tunes, including SUNSHINE ("There is Sunshine in My Soul Today") and SWENEY ("More About Jesus Would I Know").
1871
George Leslie Mackay, first foreign missionary of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, arrives in Taiwan where he will establish over sixty churches, a hospital, and several schools. He will cause controversy by marrying a Taiwanese slave woman, but she will become an indispensable co-evangelist with him.
1887
Australia's oldest Roman Catholic church, called the Church on the Hill, is ready for worship.
1900
Birth of Stephen C. Neill, British clergyman and biblical scholar. A prolific writer, some of Neill's better-known titles are "A History of Christian Missions" (1964), "The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1871-1961" (1966) and "The Modern Reader's Dictionary of the Bible" (1966).
1922
Iosif Trifa, an Orthodox priest in Vidra de Sus (now Avram Iancu), anguished at the wickedness of his parishioners, falls to his knees in prayer. He conceives the idea of issuing a call in a magazine he edits - a call for a New Year's resolution to fight against sin in the coming year. “The Calling to a New Life in Christ” is successful. Trifa becomes a Wesley-like revivalist figure in Romania and suffers at the hands of both church and state.
1979
The Feast of the Circumcision [which honors Christ's circumcision eight days after his birth] becomes known as the Feast of the Holy Name in the revised Book of Common Prayer.

Copyright Statement
© 1987-2020, William D. Blake. Portions used by permission of the author, from "Almanac of the Christian Church"