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, August 5-11, in Church history. They include the arrival of the Shakers in America, the death of one of Martin Luther’s notable enemies, and the baptism of Norma McCorvey.
‘Roe’ of Roe v. Wade Baptized – August 7, 1995
This week marks the anniversary of when Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in the landmark 1973 United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, was baptized.
The ceremony took place in a swimming pool at a house in the Dallas, Texas suburb of Garland, with 35 people in attendance. The Rev. Philip Benham, a fundamentalist minister and national director of the pro-life group Operation Rescue, performed the baptism.
McCorvey’s religious experience included a change of heart on the abortion issue, with the former Jane Roe quitting her job as marketing director for the pro-choice clinic A Choice for Women.
“I’m pro-life. I think I have always been pro-life, I just didn’t know it,” said McCrovey in an interview with a radio station at the time, as quoted in a 1995 New York Times article.
Shakers Arrive in America – August 6, 1774
This week marks the anniversary of when a Quaker sect known as the Shakers arrived in New York, having traveled across the Atlantic from the British Isles.
The small group was led by Ann Lee, commonly called “Mother Ann,” who reportedly undertook the journey after receiving a vision.
“In 1772 Mother Ann received another vision from God in the form of a tree. It communicated that a place had been prepared for she and her followers in America,” noted the National Park Service.
“So, in 1774, Mother Ann and eight followers set sail for New York. Their goal was to establish Shaker communities based on the tenants of community, equality, simplicity, and charity.”
The group established the first Shaker community in North America, settling on a piece of property located near Albany. Mother Ann would die ten years later.
Johann Tetzel Dies – August 11, 1519
This week marks the anniversary of Johann Tetzel, the friar’s whose support for the practice of indulgences led Martin Luther to begin the Protestant Reformation, died.
A Dominican friar and an inquisitor, Tetzel used indulgences to raise money to pay for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, declaring “a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs.”
For various reasons, Tetzel became increasingly unpopular within the Catholic Church and was eventually barred from preaching.
Near death, Tetzel received a letter of consolation from Luther, who told him, in an apparent reference to the indulgences, that he should not “be troubled, for the matter did not begin on his account, but the child had quite a different father.”