Christianity is a faith with a long and detailed history, with numerous events of lasting significance occurring throughout the ages.
Each week brings the anniversaries of great milestones, horrid tragedies, amazing triumphs, telling tribulations, inspirational progress, and everything in between.
Here are just a few things that happened this week, March 25–31, in Church history. They include the death of a prominent African-American church leader, the first worship service of Saddleback Church, and Billy Graham’s first sermon.
Click on the arrow to go to the next page.
Saddleback Church holds first worship service — March 30, 1980
This week marks the anniversary of when Saddleback Church, the influential megachurch headed by pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren, held its first worship service.
Starting out as a small group that met in the Warren family’s apartment living room, the church held its first worship service on Palm Sunday in 1980.
The service was held at the Laguna Hills High School Theater and had approximately 40 attendees, according to a 2015 article by Baptist News Global. The following week, Easter Sunday, attendance was around 240.
Founder of African Methodist Episcopal Church dies — March 26, 1831
This week marks the anniversary of the death of Richard Allen, a prominent African-American clergyman who founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Allen became a Methodist at age 17, drawn in part by the religious sect’s longstanding official opposition to legalized slavery.
However, racial discrimination from the white leadership of the Church led Allen to found what is considered the first African-American national church in 1816.
In 2016, the United States Postal Service released a stamp commemorating Allen, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the founding of the AME Church.
Billy Graham preaches his first sermon — March 28, 1937
This week marks the anniversary of when famed evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham preached his first sermon, about two years before he was officially ordained.
Still a teenager, Graham preached at an evening service at Bostwick Baptist Church in Palatka, Florida, at the request of his college dean, the Rev. John Minder.
“He got up and preached, I guess, about ten or fifteen minutes. Gave a very nice message. Then he sat down. I took over and spoke a little while,” recalled Minder in a 1977 interview.
“There was a good spirit in the meeting. I gave an invitation for those who needed help from the Lord to raise their hands and we had quite a response. They all came … quite a number of them responded to the invitation to come forward …”