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, 1944: National Religious Broadcasters is incorporated. In response to regulatory pressure from mainline Protestant groups, the NRB was founded as a non-partisan, non-denominational international association of Christian communicators that would represent the interests of evangelicals working in radio and the nascent medium of television. While theologically diverse, NRB members sign a Declaration of Unity that proclaims their joint commitment and devotion to Christianity.

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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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, ...

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