December 31: Today in Christian History

December 31: Today in Christian History

December 31, 439

Death in Jerusalem of Melania the Younger, known for her charity, and for founding two convents.

December 31, 1770

America’s first-known “watch-night” service is held at St. George’s Methodist Church in Philadelphia.

December 31, 1864

Abraham Lincoln proposes to his cabinet that the US Constitution be amended to recognize “the Deity.” The proposal is met with disapproving silence and dropped.

December 31, 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.

December 31, 1887

Australia’s oldest Roman Catholic church, called the Church on the Hill, is ready for worship.

December 31, 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.

December 31, 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.

December 31, 1989

Chinese Communist officials meet with evangelist Nora Lam to clear up “misunderstandings” that had earlier blocked her getting a visa to preach in China. She learns that China has approved a cultural exchange program operated by her ministry.

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