September 2, 1784: John Wesley consecrates Thomas Coke (right) as the first “bishop” of the Methodist church in America. An indefatigable itinerant minister, Mr. Coke crossed the Atlantic 18 times — all at his own expense.
Always deeply interested in missionary work at home and abroad, he traveled widely to establish Methodism in the West Indies.
September 14, 1814: Episcopal layman Francis Scott Key, co-founder of the American Sunday School Union, is inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland (left below).
The poem’s final verse includes this lyric: “Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.”
September 23, 1857: Layman-turned-evangelist Jeremiah C. Lanphier holds a weekly lunchtime prayer meeting for businessmen in New York City. By the program’s third week, 40 participants requested daily meetings.
Soon capacity-crowd prayer gatherings were being held throughout the city. Other cities begin similar programs, and a revival — sometimes called “The Third Great Awakening” — catches fire across America. (A brief 1894 New York Times story about Mr. Lanphier is here—PDF.)
September 25, 1789: Congress amends the U.S. Constitution to prohibit establishment of a state church and to prohibit governmental interference with the free exercise of religion.
September 30, 1770: Having preached his last sermon the evening before, English revivalist George Whitefield dies.
In his lifetime, Whitefield preached at least 18,000 times to perhaps 10 million hearers.
Adapted with permission from ChristianHistory.net.
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