Today in Christian History

December 18

December 18, 1707: Charles Wesley, who founded Methodism with his brother John, is born in England. A celebrated and prolific hymnwriter, his "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Lo, He Comes" are widely sung this time of year (see issue 69: Charles and John Wesley).

December 18, 1835: Lyman Abbott, a Congregational clergyman who was a leading proponent of the social gospel, is born in Massachusetts. Prompted by his admiration of Henry Ward Beecher to enter the ministry, he succeeded Beecher as pastor at Brooklyn's Plymouth Congregational Church.

December 18, 1865: Slavery is abolished in the United States as the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified. Many of the abolitionists who pushed for its passage were Christians seeking to make America more like the Kingdom of God (see issue 33: Christianity and the Civil War).

December 18, 1957: English author Dorothy Sayers, a Christian apologist who was also the most popular mystery writer in England, dies.

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July 24, 1725: John Newton, author of "Amazing Grace" and other hymns, is born in London. Converted to Christianity while working on a slave ship, he hoped as a Christian to restrain the worst excesses of the slave trade, "promoting the life of God in the soul" of both his crew and his African cargo. In 1764 he became an Anglican minister and each week wrote a hymn to be sung to a familiar tune. In 1787 Newton wrote Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade to help William Wilberforce's campaign to ...

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