Jan. 1, 1622: The Roman Catholic church adopts January 1 as the beginning of the year, rather than March 25.
Jan. 3, 1785: The Methodist “Christmas Conference” concludes at Baltimore, Md., having created the Methodist Episcopal Church in America (now the United Methodist Church).
Francis Asbury (pictured kneeling) and Thomas Coke were elected as the denomination’s two first “general superintendents.” Later the title was changed to “bishop.”
Jan. 6, 1850: Charles H. Spurgeon, who would become one of the greatest preachers of all time, converts to Christianity during a service at a Primitive Methodist church, as a lay preacher spoke on Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.”
Mr. Spurgeon described the event in his Autobiography:
[The speaker] had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on repeating his text, and there was nothing needed — by me, at any rate — except his text. Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under the gallery, and he said, “That young man there looks very miserable”…and he shouted, as I think only a Primitive Methodist can, “Look! Look, young man! Look now!”….
Then I had this vision — not a vision to my eyes, but to my heart. I saw what a Savior Christ was…. I no sooner saw whom I was to believe than I also understood what it was to believe, and I did believe in one moment.
Jan. 6, 1984: The Mission Society for United Methodists is established — with a goal of “offering Christ to the world’s under-evangelized and unreached people.” Now known simply as The Mission Society, the organization — which receives no denominational funding — has more than 200 missionaries in 35 nations.
The group’s mission statement, updated in 2010, now reads: “The Mission Society exists to mobilize and deploy the body of Christ globally to join Jesus in His mission, especially among the least reached peoples.”
Whitefield later identified with the Methodist movement and took to open-air preaching after jealous ministers denied him the use of their pulpits.
Jan. 21, 1621: Pilgrims leave the Mayflower and gather on shore at Plymouth, Mass., for their first religious service in America.
Jan. 22, 1973: The United States Supreme Court invalidates all state restrictions on abortion in its Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions.
Years later, it was learned that the Roe case was premised on a deception. The plaintiff, “Jane Roe” (later identified as Norma McCorvey), had not been raped as claimed. In 1995, McCorvey became a follower of Christ and a pro-life activist.
Jan. 27, 398: John Chrysostom, the greatest preacher of his age, is consecrated bishop of Constantinople.
Adapted with permission from ChristianHistory.net.