Today in Christian History

April 23

April 23, 1073: Hildebrand is elected pope, taking the name Gregory VII. The first pope to excommunicate a ruler (Henry IV), Gregory was driven out of Rome in 1084. "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity," were his last words, "therefore I died in exile.

April 23, 1538: John Calvin and William Farel (whom Calvin was assisting) are banished from Geneva. The day before, Easter Sunday, both had refused to administer communion, saying the city was too full of vice to partake. Three years later, Calvin returned to the city he would forever be associated with (see issue 12: John Calvin).

April 23, 1968: The Evangelical United Brethren Church joins with the much larger Methodist Church, forming the United Methodist Church, the largest Methodist group in the world and America's second-largest Protestant denomination (after the Southern Baptist Convention).

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August 18, 1688: John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress preaches his last sermon, in London (see issue 11: John Bunyan).

August 18, 1732: In an emotional farewell service, Moravian Christians at Herrnhut sing 100 hymns and commission Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann as missionaries to slaves in the West Indies. Herrnhut, a community of only 600 members sent more than 70 missionaries between 1732 and 1742 (see issue 1: Nicolaus Zinzendorf).

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