Posts by Simonetta Carr

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Ann Griffiths and Her Sea of Wonders “O to spend my life in a sea of wonders!” [1] Ann wrote in one of her poems. And her life, spent in a Welsh farm in the small village of Dolwar-Fach, was lived in the constant and exciting discovery of God’s revelation. A Short and Intense Life Born in 1776 to a...
Scipione Lentolo – A Firm Hand in Unstable Times John Calvin didn’t have a good opinion of Italians. Basing his judgment on the scholars he had met, he thought they were too skeptical, too eager to get embroiled in convoluted discussions, and constantly itching for new ideas. In his writings to...
Henry ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia and the Birth of Christian Missions in the Hawaiian Islands Henry ‘Ōpūkaha‘ia lived only 26 years and is seldom known outside of the Hawaii. And yet, many believe that his love for the gospel changed the course of his islands forever. A Troubled Childhood Born in Ka`ū, Hawaii,...
Catharine Brown – Cherokee Missionary and Teacher When Catharine Brown arrived at the Brainerd School, the missionaries thought she wouldn’t last long. Beautiful and proud, she carried herself with gravity and reticence, as it was fitting for the daughter of an influential family. Would she be able...
David George – from Anxious Runaway to Zealous Pastor Born on a cotton plantation in Virginia around 1742, David George grew accustomed to hard work and abuse. The plantation owner, a man called “Chapel,” was particularly cruel. George had to witness the whipping of his sister Patty and the...
Maria Fearing and the Mission to the Congo If you think you are too old for something you wish to do, Maria Fearing can prove you wrong. She learned to read when she was 33 and became a missionary at 56. She would have continued until her death if the Presbyterian mission board hadn’t stopped her...
Georgi Vins and the Christian Resistance to Soviet Religious Persecution On April 26, 1979, 50-year-old Georgi Petrovich Vins was woken up in his cell in the labor camp where he had been serving sentence for four years. He was asked to change into his own clothes, flown to Moscow, then told that he...
William Shedd and the Genocide of Assyrian Christians William Ambrose Shedd was born January 24, 1865, in the mountain village of Seir, near Urmia, in today’s Northwestern Iran, near Turkey. About one quarter of the population at that time was Assyrian, and predominantly Christian. According to...
Samuel Crowther – The First African Anglican Bishop When a visiting missionary reunited with his mother in 1848, she must have hardly believed her eyes. It had been about 26 years since she had seen him. She had left him a young teenager named Ajayi. Now he was an ordained minister in the Church of...
Francis James Grimké – Through a Pandemic and Social Unrest We are not the first generation who must deal with a pandemic and racial unrest at the same time. The Spanish flu of 1918 hit America at a time when racial segregation and lynching of blacks were commonplace and largely ignored by the...
Matilde Calandrini – Fighting for Education and Religious Freedom In 1831, 37-year old Matilde Calandrini moved from Geneva to Pisa for health reasons. Tuscany, the enchanting Italian region where Pisa was located, had been the home of her ancestors at the time of the Protestant Reformation. They...
Dante’s first book of his Divine Comedy takes its reader through an imaginative journey through Hell. Each girone is a testimony to the corruption of the human heart, and gives the poet a chance to denounce the crimes of the political and religious leaders of his time. Most of the time, the reader...
Joshua Janavel and the Plight of the Waldensians When the troops of the Duke of Savoy asked the Waldensians to give them hospitality, Joshua Janavel was not convinced. The Waldensians had survived through a long history of persecutions, starting in the 12 th century. Their official adherence to the...
Daniel Rowland and the Welsh 18 th -century Revival Llangeitho is a small village in the center of Wales. Today, its population counts just a little more than 800 people. It was even smaller in the 18 th century. And yet, thousands of people arrived on Sundays from all over Wales, traveling on foot...
Miklòs Bethlen and the Independence of Transylvania Sitting in prison, “as one to whom the gate of eternity stands open,” [1] Miklòs Bethlen began to write the story of his life. It was a fascinating story of one of the most influential men in the history of Transylvania. Today, the book is still...
The Birth of Early Christian Nations –Truth and Legend The accounts of the birth of early Christian nations is often shrouded in legend, as stories were told and retold, but there are still enough historical records to show that much of them are true. Grigor and the Brave Women of Armenia Armenia...
Gregory of Nyssa – A Lone Voice Against Slavery I have already written about Gregory of Nyssa [1] – one of the Three Cappadocian Fathers – and his compassion toward the poor. But he deserves another article, for a stand that made him unique and countercultural in his time: his stand against slavery...
Johannes Bugenhagen – Sharing the Gospel and Caring for the Poor Known mostly as pastor and church planter during the Protestant Reformation (he has been called “the Apostle to the North”), Johannes Bugenhagen was also an important model in the tradition of Christian love and compassion. A...
A few years ago, after writing the nth article on the benefits of learning church history, I decided never to touch this subject again. Editors kept asking me to write more, but I thought I had said all there was to say about it. Until now, when recent events have brought the study (or ignorance)...
The Familiar Case of Benjamin Dutton Benjamin Dutton is not a recognizable name in Church history. He is usually remembered in passing as the second husband of Anne Dutton , the 18 th -century writer who confuted Wesley’s strive for earthly perfection and won the praises of George Whitefield and...
George Herbert – Pastor and Poet What would the English poet George Herbert have to say at the toppling of our monuments? Maybe something similar to what he said in 1633, while contemplating the monuments to the dead inside his church’s crypt. In the end, he concluded, the dust and earth to which...
William Williams Pantycelyn – The Sweet Singer of Wales In most of the world, William Williams is only known to those who read the names of authors in their hymnbooks. Most people don’t, and go on singing his most famous hymn, “Guide Us O Thou Great Jehovah” (also known as “Bread of Heaven”)...
Theodore Sedgwick Wright – A Voice for the Slaves Theodore Sedgwick Wright, the first African American graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, returned to his Alma Mater in 1836 to attend the annual commencement ceremony. He didn’t know, as he entered the hall, what a measure of self-control he...
Anne Ross Cundell Cousin – A Compassionate Friend The name of Anne Cousin is largely unknown today. It might sound familiar only to people to take the time to read the names of the authors of the hymns they sing. To most of them, Anne Cousin is known for one of her hymns: “The Sands of Time Are...
Historically, after Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost, the church enters a long period known as “Ordinary Time” — stretching from the day of Pentecost (or, in the Anglican Church, Trinity Sunday) to the start of Advent — about half of the liturgical year. As foreign as it might seem to some...
Samuel Miller – Conscientious Pastor and Teacher In 1813, Samuel Miller was offered a position as Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government at the newly established Princeton Theological Seminary. At that time, the Seminary had only one teacher, who was also its founder and...
Samuel Davies – Preacher, Father, and Poet Most parents share mixed feelings of excitement, wonder, and anxiety at the birth of a child. Samuel Davies, one of the main preachers of the Great Awakening, was no exception. In fact, his profound knowledge of Scriptures and of God’s staggering work of...
Alexander McLeod and His Speech Against Slavery In the fall of 1800, Alexander McLeod (1774-1833) received a call to become pastor of the Congregation in Coldenham, New York. It was the culmination of a training he had received since he was a child, back in the wild and scenic Isle of Mull,...
Olaudah Equiano – Waking Up Christians to the Evils of Slavery Olaudah Equiano described his 1745 place of birth as “a charming vale, named Essaka” [1] in the kingdom of Benin (in today’s southeastern Nigeria). His father occupied an important place among the Igbo people, and was himself a slave...
Almost any article today could have the word “Coronavirus” in the title. This small organism has changed most of our lives and continues to affect us in many ways. While some of our questions simply require a lot of wisdom, our most fundamental perplexities still find their answers in Scriptures,...
John Chrysostom and Olympias – Finding Comfort in Troubled Times John Chrysostom was a favorite church father in the Protestant Reformation for many reasons: for his departure from the allegorical interpretation of Scriptures that was popular in his day, for his understanding of law and grace, and...
Kassia – A Bold and Sensitive Byzantine Poet Around the year 830, in Constantinople, that Byzantine Empress Euphroshyne organized a bride-show to find a wife for her newly-crowned sixteen-year old son Theophilos. This was a common match-making system of her times. Kassia – possibly 20 at that time...
Christine de Pizan – Theologian and Mother Christine de Pizan was the first professional woman writer in France, if not Europe. She is normally seen as an early feminist rather than as a theologian and a mother. But many of her writings are based on her study of Scriptures and the church fathers,...
Lydia Mackenzie Falconer Miller – An Inquisitive Woman Some time ago, I wrote an article about Hugh Miller, a Scottish geologist and author who was greatly esteemed by both scientists and common readers during the perplexing times of the Scottish religious Disruption and of Darwin’s new scientific...
Elizabeth Barrows Ussher – Caring for All During the Armenian Resistance In 1915, the buildings belonging to the missionaries in Van, Turkey, turned into fortresses, refugee centers, and hospitals. “Reports come to us of the burning of village after village, with outrages upon the women and...
Diet Eman – Holding on to God’s Promises For Dutch Christians like Diet (pronounced Deet) Eman and her family, the German invasion of the Netherlands generated new, urgent questions. Queen Wilhelmina had left for England, taking her whole government with her. What were the Dutch supposed to do?...
Johann Heermann and the Comfort of the Cross In the spring of 1630, while the Thirty-Year War raged around Europe, pastor and poet Johann Heermann wrote a hymn to inspire his congregation to meditate on Christ’s suffering. Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended, that we to judge thee have in hate...
John Donne – Poet of Grace and Comfort In 1623, when a sudden illness brought the poet and preacher John Donne close to death, he expressed his lament with words that may sound relevant during our coronavirus pandemic: “Variable and therefore miserable condition of man! This minute I was well, and...
Paul Gerhardt and His Songs of Confident Hope In 1943, the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from his lonely prison cell, “I’ve lately learnt for the first time to appreciate the hymn, ‘Beside thy cradle here I stand.’ Up to now I hadn't made much of it; I suppose one has to be alone for a...
Patrick and His Mission Every year, we read articles about the “real” Saint Patrick – the one who didn’t drive out snakes and didn’t use a shamrock to explain the Trinity. His own account of his life, expressed in his Confessions , has become better known, but is still not commonly read. Yet, it...
Jeanette Li and Her Faith in God’s Promises Jeanette’s birth, in 1899, was a disappointment to her family. As most Chinese parents at that time, You Zhong and his wife Taai So wanted a son to carry on the family name. Since they already had a daughter, a relative suggested the new baby should be...
Betsey Stockton and Her Love for God’s Image-Bearers Whatever Betsey had imagined her foreign mission to be, it was not this. The group of Hawaiian men who came rowing toward her ship in their canoes was frightening: “Their appearance was that of half man and half beast—naked—except a narrow strip...
Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784) and her Sovereign God Whatever moved the Wheatleys to buy the little slave that had just arrived from Africa, it was not her physical strength. Small, frightened and skinny, she looked too frail to do much work. The Wheatleys’ choice might have been due to the fact...
Anne Steele and Her Weighty Questions Anne Steele is remembered as one of the first British women hymn-writers, and one of the best appreciated during her time and the following century. The introspective, searching notes of her hymns, uttered with uncommon honesty, made them particularly cherished...
“Would You But Permit Me to Cast Myself at Your Feet?” – Marriage Proposal of 18 th -Century Ministers This is a sequel to an article I wrote a few years ago about some marriage proposals by 16 th -century Protestant Reformers. [1] Most of those were practical, from Heinrich Bullinger’s (1504–1575...
Anne du Bourg – A Conflicted Martyr Anne du Bourg is an important French Protestant who is almost entirely forgotten. Born around 1520 in Riom, in the French region of Auvergne, he studied law at the University of Orléans, where he received his doctorate in 1550. He then remained there as professor...
Jan Laski – The Polish Reformer Jan Laski (also known as Johannes à Lasco) is normally remembered as the Reformer of Poland, but he had also a great influence in England and other parts of Europe and was an untiring opponent of the heresies of his time. Born into a noble family in central Poland in...
Mary Honywood and Her Flickering, Unquenchable Faith By 1558, most Londoners had come to loath Mary Tudor’s systematic executions of Protestants. Keeping the throngs away was in the crown’s best interest. On July 1, during the scheduled execution of preacher John Bradford (1510–1555) and apprentice...
B. B. Warfield – Not a Solitary Theologian Due to a need for brevity, many articles on Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921) focus on his theology and his devotion to his wife, whose illness kept the couple close to home. Because of this, he is often seen as a solitary man leading an...
Frank Houghton - Eager to Glorify God The news of the brutal murder of John and Betty Stam – together with a local shopkeeper who tried to defend them – shook the missionary community and other Christians everywhere. It was December 1934, and the 10th division of the communist Red Army had just...