September 26, 1460: Pope Pius II assembles European leaders, then delivers a three-hour sermon to inspire them to launch a new crusade against the Turks. The speech works, but then another speaker, Cardinal Bessarion, adds a three-hour sermon of his own. After six hours of preaching, the European princes lose all interest in the cause; they never mount the called-for crusade.
September 26, 1897: Charles C. Overton, a Sunday school superintendent at Brighton Chapel, Staten Island, spontaneously promotes the idea of a Christian flag. The Rally Day speaker hadn't shown up, so Overton gave an extemporaneous address on Christian meanings for the elements of the American flag. The red, white, and blue cross flag Overton later helped devise was first sewn around 1907 and continues to be used in some churches.
December 8, 1691: English Puritan minister Richard Baxter dies in London. One of England's most renowned preachers and author of nearly 200 works (including several hymns), he was known as a peacemaker who sought unity among Protestants.
December 8, 1934: American missionaries John and Betty Stam are beheaded by Chinese communists. The couple had met while attending Moody Bible Institute and married just the year before their death. Publication of their biography prompted hundreds to volunteer ...