Global Christian History


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Global Christian History

  3. 3. CHAPTER 1 BOOK REVIEWS I verify that the following list represents all of the books I have read for this course, the page on which you will find my book review, and the number of pages read for each book. BookTitle Page#of book review #ofpages read The Story of Christianity 5 843 A World History of Christianity 6 594 TOTAL PAGES READ 1437 3
  4. 4. 4 The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez HarperCollins Publishers (1985) In The Story of Christianity, Justo Gonzalez covers 2,000 years of global Christian history. The Cuban author, who happens to be the youngest PhD graduate from Yale since 1701, does a tremendous job of comprehensively describing history through the use of facts and stories. This is no ordinary history text book, though. Gonzalez presents history from a unique and, yet, balanced perspective. He ignores the temptation to favor one religious movement over another, and he takes the same careful approach when describing the differences between the Eastern Church, the Western Church, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, and the many denominations within those broad categories. A significant strength in the book lies in the focus on famous Christians who lived throughout the course of history. By extensively outlining the details of the lives of influential Christian leaders throughout the centuries, Gonzalez personalizes the story of Christianity in a way that is lacking from many history books. He establishes the foundation that God has clearly worked through many different types of people over many years. While some historians may tend to have a bias toward one culture or another throughout history, or some may tend to overlook marginalized groups such as women or minority populations, Gonzalez is able to bring many different points of view into historical content. A strong point in the book is the massive amount of information gathered and presented about the early Christian church. From the humble beginnings of the early followers of The Way to the rise of the imperial church under Constantine, this collection presents the foundations of the faith and the events behind what modern Christians have come to believe over time. The chapters and sections of reading were easy to follow, and many stories were given to expand on historical facts. As far as a weakness to this book, Gonzalez could have gone further to describe the global missionary efforts over the past four or five hundred years of Christian history. I found this to be especially true of this book after reading A World History of Christianity, a presentation of Christian history that had a much stronger emphasis on missions and global movements of Christianity. In comparing the two books, though, I do think that Gonzalez’ history is much stronger in the areas of philosophy, theological doctrine, and in describing the great breakthroughs and challenges that have characterized the expansion of Christianity around the world for the past 2,000 years. The most obvious application of this book is that the history informs me as a modern Christian leader. I have developed a broader foundation for understanding why much of modern Christianity is the way it is. Now that I know where the Christian church has been, I have become more empowered and equipped to provide direction for where the church should be going. Many of the issues that the early church wrestled with are still being wrestled with by Christians today. For instance, Christians who live in countries where they are persecuted for their faith can learn a lot from the early church about how to embrace suffering and have God work through those situations. In the same way, modern Western Christians can learn a lot about how the church made up of influential people and powerful cultures can either flourish or decline over time based on the history of the original imperial church structures. The history of global Christianity still informs the church today.
  5. 5. 5 A World History of Christianity by Adrian Hastings Eerdmans (1999) A World History of Christianity breaks through the western mindset that informs most historical books about Christianity. The global perspectives are refreshing. The first few chapters of the book describe much of what happened in the early church and the Mediterranean Basin, but unlike many books written from a western perspective, it moves forward rather quickly beyond those launching points. Beyond the story of the church in the West, entire chapters are devoted to the original missionary efforts and spread of Christianity in India, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, China and its neighbors, Asia and the Pacific. This lens on history is significant for modern Christians because Christianity is currently experiencing explosive growth in many of those places while it is declining in the West. Hastings pulls together a view of history with several strengths. First, this book is highly missional. While many Christian books look introspectively on the church, the content here is heavily weighted toward God’s mission to redeem the world. Second, the focus of the material is global in nature. God has moved in many different places throughout the world over the course of the last 2,000 years of history, which is a fact even if those movements have not been documented by historians who often possess a western, white, male lens for viewing the world. A weakness of this book is that it is not quite as comprehensive or exhaustive as other text books on the history of Christianity. Perhaps that is intentional, because that type of Christian historical content has been done before. This perspective on Christian history is in a field that still has much content to be researched, discovered, and shared with the universal body of Christ. This book can be applied by most modern Christians to inform a wide variety of topics. Over the past century Christianity has gradually shifted from the global North to the global South. Christian leaders who do not possess a deep understanding of how Christianity first emerged and developed throughout the centuries in places like Asia, Africa, and Latin America will be utterly disoriented and unequipped during the twenty- first century where Christianity is growing exponentially in those places. The development of a global perspective on Christian history informs such issues as immigration, international relations, reconciliation, and globalization for Christians living all over the world. The failure to understand the global perspective on Christian history and the current shifts in Christianity could lead to the decline of the church in places that lag behind. This is an important book.
  6. 6. CHAPTER 2 JOURNAL Day 1: May 20, 2010 Julie and I started our day today by visiting a unique ministry near Tacoma, Washington called Friends and Servants. The organization impacts hundreds of teens each year through a drop-in center and a farm that is utilized for agricultural education and youth empowerment. We are hoping to apply several components of their organizational model to our work with kids through L.A.M.P. in Pittsburgh. Following our visit with Friends and Servants we drove up the Pacific coast right past Seattle and through the rural Northwest until we arrived at beautiful Bakken. When we arrived at our destination we were greeted by classmates who were from Africa, India, and many different parts of the United States. I love the diversity of Bakke Graduate University! Ray Bakke greeted us and took us all on a walk for a little while before dinner. The Bakken residence is an amazing place. I was captivated by an eagle that was on the prowl for its dinner, and a gentle rain gave way to an incredible rainbow which almost landed right down in the middle of the great room where we were all watching God’s display. God is romancing us urban leaders with the beauty of this retreat in nature. This trip will be a much needed reprieve after a long stretch of intense urban ministry in Pittsburgh. We ate dinner with a pastor and his wife who live in the area and are auditing the course. We found out that he grew up in the north hills of Pittsburgh just as I did, and 6
  7. 7. 7 they are friends with the senior pastor at our church in Pittsburgh, Dr. Jay Passavant. We really enjoyed sharing life stories and common experiences with one another. After dinner, Corean Bakke played a wonderful concert for us all. Then, we each had the chance to introduce ourselves to the group and say a little something about where we are from and some information about our theological backgrounds. Ray spoke briefly to us about his history and also the importance of modern Christians understanding the global history of Christianity from many points of view other than just white, male American perspectives. Bakken is proving to be an effective learning environment. I was encouraged by the diversity of the group, and I cannot wait to see what the next few days have in store for us. Although we are hear to study, and we have prepared with much reading, we are also hear to have fun, be creative, and build relationships. I am hoping to build some relationships that will last for a long time. I am also fascinated by the learning that will take place from so many different perspectives. Ray’s outlook on history will assuredly differ from the author of our text book, Justo Gonzalez, who comes from a Latin American background. I am also anxious to hear from my classmates. I know my worldview will be stretched as it often is in these BGU courses. I am looking forward to spending time with Ray because he has been such a big influence on me with his books and lectures. I always come away from my time with him with many different applications to life and leadership. The incarnational leadership style that Julie and I are applying in Homewood is directly tied to many of his concepts and role modeling in that area. I know that we will be encouraged in our work by this time at Bakken.
  8. 8. 8 One of my classmates runs a sports outreach to inner city kids in Phoenix, Arizona. I am hoping to spend some time with him to learn more about his work there so that I can be more effective as a leader with the kids in Pittsburgh. Sports outreach is one of the best ways I know to connect with kids, and it can be a powerful onramp to life lessons and relational growth. Perhaps I will come back to Pittsburgh equipped with new ideas for reaching the kids in Homewood. We are staying at a house with an African pastor who oversees over 400 churches in the United States and Canada. I am looking forward to learning more about the phenomenon currently happening in America where missionaries from places like Africa and Asia are coming here to bring the gospel message to us. It is interesting that many Western Christians are still stuck on the old model of sending Western missionaries and resources to foreign countries, when Christianity has exploded in the global South and those countries are now sending people to us because Christianity has experienced such a drastic decline here. I know I will learn a lot from my new African pastor friend. Day 2: May 21, 2010 This morning I had coffee with Ray Bakke and several local residents at the Acme General Store. I enjoyed the interaction with some interesting characters, including the self-described “mayor of Acme” who knew everyone and everything that was going on in the area. I have always pictured Ray as Mr. Urban, so it was interesting to be with him in this type of context. I think I paid a quarter for the coffee. Now that’s money well spent! After coffee we headed back up to Bakken for breakfast and our first full day of learning in this Global Christian History course. Ray started the morning by speaking to
  9. 9. 9 us about the importance of history in general. He shared about the global shift in Christianity over the past 100 years, including how about 80 percent of the world’s Christians now live outside the West. Christianity is no longer a Western religion, which it was for over 1,000 years. Western missionary strategies worked, but now it seems as though God is moving globally in different ways. He then continued to build the foundation for this course by explaining about the various splits in church history between the East and the West involving many different doctrinal issues. The theme of tension regarding theological issues is found throughout early church history, the medieval era, the reformation, and the modern era. In the mid-morning we started sharing about the twenty saints who make up our spiritual DNA. I am so amazed by the different perspectives that are being brought into this course from such a diverse group of classmates. I truly enjoyed the unique perspectives from around the country and around the world. I had not heard of several of the saints that my classmates mentioned, but I also had picked many of the same saints as them. Ray then lectured for a while about how God works through history. Christians should read history as though what we are reading is not the final act. There is a spiritual choreography going on in the world. We also learned today about Jesus’ scandalous bloodlines found in Matthew. From Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheeba we learn that God works through foreigners, refugees, sinners, welfare moms, and many other different types of people. God wants us to look at history in order to inform our theology. Several other themes emerged throughout the day. Mission is essential to theology. Heresies often help Christians to understand more clearly what they believe.
  10. 10. 10 History does not repeat itself, but patterns do. Grace and truth are still issues that Christians are dealing with today. Evangelicals have lost a theology of place. Many interesting statements and new ways of thinking emerged from Ray’s lectures and from the discussion with the group. It was amazing to hear the amount of comprehensive information about history that Ray presented. I appreciated how he tied almost all of it into how it affects contemporary issues in our world. Also, since my worldview comes from a white, male, middle class, American perspective, it was very refreshing to learn about how many other people in history who do not fall into that category have made significant impact in the world. I did not have a global perspective before taking these courses at BGU, but now I can say that I am truly moving in that direction. One of the best parts of that process is that I am expanding my worldview through relationships with people who are different than me. Ray’s take on the immigration issue in America today was something that really resonated with me. I am passionate about this issue, but I have not been able to develop a theological perspective on the issue very well. Christians should begin to address the immigration issue in America out of a biblical foundation of love. Jesus was an undocumented refugee when he was a child, and Jesus also modeled for all Christians how to treat foreigners with love and understanding. I am building a new foundation for which to address difficult issues facing the modern church in America. As a point of application, I intend to start more dialogues with friends in Pittsburgh about the subject of immigration which is currently such a hot topic in America. Christians should be on the cutting edge of figuring out solutions to immigration issues in America.
  11. 11. 11 Day 3: May 22, 2010 Corean spoke for a while this morning. I really enjoyed the information that she shared with us. The story in Christianity is different than any other religion. For instance, Buddhists and Hindus do not have hymns. You need stories to inspire poetry and music. The Christian story has evolved into a big structure. She covered the significance of the Sabbath, important dates on the Christian calendar, festivals that help us share the story of Christianity, colors that people can identify with, and the power of hymns in communicating the gospel message. The whole morning was an extensive learning experience for me. After lunch and a prayer walk with Julie around the mission trail, Ray started into a lecture about heresies in the church over the years. He also discussed his perspective on women in leadership in the church and the feminine attributes of God. He pointed out that Evangelicals often have a functional Unitarianism. They just care about the second member of the Trinity and simply getting people saved. Balance is critical. We need to keep the Trinity as the centerpiece of doctrine because old heresies keep appearing in our modern context. The two natures are together in Christ without confusion, change, separation, and division. In 787 the Western church added one little word to its Trinity doctrine that meant “in the Son.” This caused a major split between East and West because the East objected. The Eastern church thought that the doctrine was tritheism, and the East knew the Muslims would reject it. It made real a fracture that had been growing steadily over time. It festered until 1054 when the East and West churches excommunicated each other.
  12. 12. 12 We discussed church reform at length today. Education, evangelization, structure, Anabaptist, government, and mission were all reform techniques used by Luther and Calvin. There is no one way to go about reform. Ray loves reform, but it sometimes brings about side effects that we might not like. If you study where revival happens, usually cults break out. Reform (big church) doesn’t always bring the intended consequences of the reforms. Revivalism (small church) is a narrow view, and it often has a unique theology. The reformers themselves all wanted to bring about reform in the liturgy and worship. Luther did not want to destroy images. In fact, he moved the pulpit to the side because the preacher should not block the cross. Corean’s lecture was extremely insightful. I have never taken the time to develop understanding in the content that she covered. I am intrigued by the deep meaning that can be discovered through the liturgical calendar and in practicing the church year. I also gained great insight into church history through the many festivals and feasts that she described. I am still working through how I can implement what I have learned in Pittsburgh at a large non-denominational church that is not what I would describe as “traditional.” At a certain point in Ray’s lectures today he discussed reflective leadership. I know this type of leadership is crucial for people ministering in an urban environment, but I have a hard time being reflective sometimes when I am in the fast pace of urban leadership in Homewood. Many days I end up leading as a manager who puts out fires in my neighborhood instead of slowing down to reflect in order to be more effective. When I return to Pittsburgh I am going to continue to work on that part of my leadership skill set.
  13. 13. 13 Ray’s lecture about working with inner city families and public aid moms also hit home, and I will work hard to apply what I have learned in those areas when I return to Homewood. There are so many different lessons in the Bible that could resonate with the people in the neighborhood where I live and work. Jesus spent a considerable amount of time building relationship with people who were marginalized my mainstream Roman and Jewish society during his relatively brief ministry career. The early Christian church grew at a tremendous rate by moving mostly among the poor who were living in authentic community with one another. Many stories of hope can be found throughout Christian history that I can share with the people I interact with in my neighborhood. Another theme that impacted me today was accountability. Ray surrounded himself in Chicago with leaders who held him accountable. I have done that to a small degree in Pittsburgh, but I intend to be much more intentional about that when I return home. That is an essential step in my development as a leader. Often with the way I lead in Homewood I end up being on a solo mission, and those are usually the times when I end up burned out and feeling isolated from others. That is no way to make a difference in an urban environment over a long, sustainable period of time. Day 4: May 23, 2010 Today is Sunday, and we started our time together by playing wooden instruments and singing Joy to the World. Ray told us a sixty-year story in five acts from the Book of Philemon. It was the amazing story of an intercontinental refugee named Onesimus, who through his acceptance of Christianity was transformed by Christ from an outlawed slave into the bishop of one of the largest Christian churches in the world. Ray used the
  14. 14. 14 opportunity to talk about how God works through many different types of people to achieve his purposes, and we see time and time again throughout the course of history how God works through slaves, women, minority groups, refugees, and marginalized people groups. Ray’s lecture on Martin Luther was very interesting. Luther achieved many reforms in the Christian church during his lifetime, and he was also a fascinating person. He was an intellectual, but he was also popular with the poor people to whom he served as a pastor. He was brilliant, but he was also very social and fun to be around. Luther was a slob, but that was only because he thought that he had better things to do with his time than bathe or take care of himself. He and his wife, Katherine, invented Protestant marriage. His work has impacted millions of Christians for centuries. Today, Ray also described the various different missionary movements that impacted the New World. These included the French, Puritans, Russian Orthodox, and Spanish. Each group had a different way of interacting with the Native Indian population, and often the results of those interactions were devastating for the native population. The French saw the natives as equal, and in the French-Canadian context they intermarried with them. This treatment was not too rough on the Indian population. The Spanish, influenced by Aristotle, came to exploit the continent for gold and land. They ruled the native population through the sacraments, or missions, to keep the Indians in the shadow of the church where they could treat them like children. As a result, 95 million Indians died within 100 years of Columbus’ arrival. The Orthodox Mission treated natives with enormous respect. Their method was: You teach us what God has been teaching you, and we’ll teach you based on that. That method was very effective,
  15. 15. 15 and led to more respectable treatment of the native population. The Puritans, or the dominant American ideal, is the city on a hill. Their theology believed “God hath given me this plantation. We are the covenant people. We are Israel. God has gifted us this land.” From the Puritan perspective, the native population represented the Hittites or Moabites in Canaan. As such, the Puritans believed that they should not kill the Native Americans. They just needed to get them out of their land. This philosophy has tragically defined relations between Native Americans and Puritans (and the following generations of white European settlers) for centuries. Mission has consequences, and the anthropology of the people I minister to has consequences. I need to pay careful attention to the context of my work in Homewood. Just as I learned in the lectures today, I could do much more harm in my work than good if I am not careful. This is why it is so important for me to be a life long learner, and to pay attention to what has happened throughout the course of Christian history. I can learn from both the breakthroughs and the mistakes of the Christians who have gone before me. I was moved today by the consequences of the different missionary movements in the New World beginning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that still have profound ramifications today. These issues deeply impact the immigration issue in America. These issues deeply impact the make up of the church in America. No wonder Sunday morning is such a segregated time! Many racial and ethnic tensions run deep, and they are often tied to harm that was once done in the name of the advancement of Christianity. Day 5: May 24, 2010
  16. 16. 16 It’s hard to believe that this is our last day at Bakken. Julie and I have had such a great time meeting new people, learning new concepts, and experiencing so many unique activities in such a short amount of time. I will remember this trip for a long time, and I am really looking forward to working on my course project in Pittsburgh. Ray lectured for a while this morning. He talked a lot about justice in America. In our current environment, the two groups of people competing for federal funds are the elderly and disabled or sick children. For some reason, funding always gets cut for those two groups of people. It is hard to get a bill through Congress to help the elderly or sick children without representatives of middle class or affluent people groups in society trying to get as much money as they can out of the bill as well. A great deal of the resources in America and around the world that are intended for marginalized people eventually end up in the hands of middle class and affluent people. The problem may be more magnified in poor countries around the world, but it also happens often in America. Ray finished the morning by describing how Christians can work toward transformation in society by understanding where break downs occur in systems. He answered the many questions of our group of classmates, who were interested in answers to many of the problems that impact complex urban environments. He finished by pointing out that the global Christian history that we had learned about over the past five days should inform our leadership actions when we return home to our urban environments. Today our culture is shouting at one another when we should be dialoguing. We just react to each other, emotionally, and then we walk away. Instead, we should be dialoguing. We need to have civility in the midst of a world that is screaming at each other. We need to treat people respectfully. In a world of human need,
  17. 17. 17 we cannot just do our own thing. Many changes are going on in the world of Christianity, and we need to come together to figure out innovative solutions to complex issues. I was pleased with the amount of content that was covered overall in this course, and I was pleasantly surprised that today we were able to go into some transformational leadership principles for global urban environments. I had heard some of that material during my Overture I course in Seattle, but I had not really heard the examples that he gave of people who are living those strategies out in cities all over the world. The examples that Ray gave were so encouraging! Also, Ray has done city consultations in Pittsburgh before, so during side conversations over the past few days he has been able to give me some concrete examples of effective urban ministry principles within the context of Pittsburgh. Ray continues to give himself away to Christian urban leaders, and he does not seem to be slowing down. We celebrated his 72nd birthday during this class. In terms of application, Ray’s lectures today encouraged me in my work in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Since the mentoring program I coordinate receives government funding, I realized a little over a year ago that I was one of those middle class people who filtered money away from the community that it was intended for. By living in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, I was spending the money from my salary on things like housing, taxes, and shopping in my suburban neighborhood. So, essentially, money that was intended to help the people in Homewood was actually helping the residents and business owners in Pine Township (the suburb of Pittsburgh that I lived in at the time). That seemed like an ethical dilemma to me, so my family and I moved to Homewood. I now know that with my lifestyle, I can be pretty sure that the government
  18. 18. 18 funding intended to help children in Homewood is now all going to help children in Homewood. I’m sure there are still many other areas like this that I can continue to develop in my work in Pittsburgh, and I plan to continue to advocate for the kids in Homewood for as long as I can. Another application point was Ray’s suggestion to bring focus to urban ministry. We cannot help everyone. It is impossible. This is a great suggestion because in Homewood we impact many children, but we also are concerned for the single moms, elderly residents, prostitutes, and addicts in our neighborhood. It is sometimes hard to say no, or to watch people suffering and not be able to do anything about it. I can have confidence in the calling that God has given us, though, to focus on reaching the kids in Homewood. I am looking forward to jumping back into that work when I arrive home from this class.
  19. 19. CHAPTER 3 PITTSBURGH’S MISSION TRAIL: A GLOBAL CHRISTIAN HISTORY History is important to Christianity. Without having a solid grasp of what has happened throughout the course of human history, modern Christians will not be able to effectively navigate through the complex issues that impact our contemporary world and the modern church. We can learn from studying the Bible that God is in control of what goes on in the world. History is not just a big cycle, or mere chance, or a giant conspiracy. All of history is moving towards God’s redemption of mankind. Everything that people experience, both good and bad, happens according to God’s providential purposes. To demonstrate this, I have selected two lenses from which to examine global Christian history. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and I currently reside in the city of Pittsburgh. Therefore, the first lens involves 21 churches in various neighborhoods throughout the city of Pittsburgh. Many of the church buildings hold congregations dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when Pittsburgh exploded from a tiny town of 250 people at the intersection of three rivers on the western frontier of America to a modern city of 2.5 million people living in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. As a second lens, I have identified a “saint,” or famous Christian, for each century of over 2,000 years of global Christian history. Each saint has some sort of tie to one of the 21 Pittsburgh churches that were selected for this project. Some of the connections are obvious. Some of the connections are subtle. From a practical perspective, the Pittsburgh churches will be used to teach a global Christian history course by walking the streets of Pittsburgh and teaching church history to people inside and outside of the 19
  20. 20. 20 church buildings. The Christians selected from each century will be explained as practical examples of what was going on during that particular century of church history. I believe that learning should not happen solely in school or church classrooms. Learning can also occur within the context of the streets and in the urban laboratory of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. Welcome to Pittsburgh’s mission trail… a learning experience in global Christian history! First Century During the first century, Jews had been spread out all over the Mediterranean basin in what is called the Diaspora. This contributed heavily to the growth of the early Christian Church. Also, the Pax Romana was a significant factor in the growth of Christianity. It is now apparent in looking back on the history of Christianity that God had orchestrated much during the so-called “silent years” before Jesus’ arrival. The early church was made up mostly of slaves, artisans, and the poor. Although Paul often receives much of the credit for advancing the gospel message during the first century, the message was actually advanced rapidly around the world by many other poor and unknown (to us) ordinary people. The followers of The Way began to experience a great deal of persecution in this century, especially under the Roman Emperors Nero and Domitian in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The first Christians were martyred, including Paul, one of the most important figures to the Christian faith.
  21. 21. 21 St. Paul’s Cathedral (Oakland, 1906) The original St. Paul’s Cathedral was built downtown on Grant Street in 1851. At that particular time in Pittsburgh, “There were more churches than banks, and some of them rivaled the banks in architectural splendor; St. Paul’s, at Fifth and Grant, was said to be second in size only to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.”1 The current building, which happens to be the third St. Paul’s in Pittsburgh, was built in Oakland in 1906. At the time, industrialist Andrew Carnegie donated a lot of money and also an expensive organ to the church. The church currently has about 3,000 Roman Catholic members. Catholics have a long history in Pittsburgh, beginning as early as 1754. Statues on the exterior of the church depict many apostles and evangelists in both the Eastern and Western church. Its construction cost $1.1 million, and it currently serves as the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, which represents over 250,000 people in the region. Images of a first century saint named Ignatius are located in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Ignatius of Antioch (35 to 107) Ignatius was the bishop of a famous, ancient church in Antioch. He was martyred for his Christian faith in order to provide amusement for the Romans. “On his way to martyrdom, he wrote seven letters that are among the most valuable documents for our knowledge of early Christianity.”2 His life and letters influenced many Christian leaders in the first century, including Bishop Onesimus from Ephesus and Bishop Polycarp from the church in Smyrna. I admire him because he finished life well, and he held up 1 Stefan Lorant, Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh: Esselmont Books, 1999), 129. 2 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity: Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 41.
  22. 22. 22 strongly in the face of his impending death. His life is a model for how to live out a solid faith in Christ. Second Century Christianity did not advance during the second century out of images of success. Instead, the gospel message advanced because early Christians sought out the sick and marginalized people of society. By the end of the second century, Christians had penetrated into every level of society in just about every part of the known world. The power of the Christian movement was in how people lived out authentic community with one another. They loved one another well, and they cared for the poor and the sick. This was a radical way of living at the time. The modern church can learn much from the second century Christians. Today, many Christians in the West have lost sight of what it means to be in genuine community with one another. In many instances, we have lost sight of the transformational message of the gospel which penetrates into all levels of society. This is a great example of why it is so important for modern Christians to study their Christian heritage beyond just reading the Bible. St. Mary’s in Pittsburgh is an example of a church that experienced growth through poor Christians who lived counter- culturally. St. Mary of Mercy Roman Catholic Church (Downtown, 1935) The original parish of St. Mary was established at the point in Pittsburgh in 1868 by Irish immigrants. Many of the early Irish immigrants arrived in Pittsburgh to work in the mills, and they really had a difficult time adjusting to their new surroundings and
  23. 23. 23 intense labor. At the time, they did not really have a close place of worship designed to meet their needs. Out of those needs emerged the congregation of St. Mary of Mercy Church. It is the only remaining church in the point park area of downtown Pittsburgh. The current building was built in 1935, and at one time it had around 850 members. Today the church has few members but many visitors. As seen in this Roman Catholic Church, it is obvious to modern Christians that the Romans must have accepted Christianity at some point in history. However, the second century was not that time. Second century Christians were still often persecuted and martyred at the hands of the Romans. Justin was one of those martyrs. Justin the Martyr (103 to 165) Justin was a famous scholar and apologist in the second century who lost his life for the sake of Christ. He provided a great example for Christians on how we do not need to depart from the “secular” world when we become a Christian. “On becoming a Christian, Justin did not cease being a philosopher, but rather took upon himself the task of doing ‘Christian philosophy’; and a major part of that task as he saw it was to show and explain the connection between Christianity and classical wisdom… But this does not mean the he was willing to compromise his faith or that he was lacking in conviction, for when the time came for him to stand up for his faith he did so with courage, and is therefore known as Justin Martyr.”3 He was able to find the good in classical pagan cultures, even though several of his peers opposed that type of philosophy. He was a risk taker, and he was a bridge builder. Modern Christians should all learn to be bridge 3 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishing, 1984), 54.
  24. 24. 24 builders between their culture and ancient culture. Christians can find good in things that do not meet our modern definition of what it means to be “Christian.” Third Century Christians experienced tremendous persecution during the third century, particularly in the years 250 and 258 as Christians refused to acknowledge Caesar as Lord. Exponential growth in many different parts of the Roman Empire had led to a very multicultural body of believers. Many Christians embraced joy in suffering and some became martyrs, while other Christians went into hiding or fled the persecution. These actions were the seeds of the first major splits in Christianity. Once the persecution eventually subsided, fundamentalist Christians wanted to punish those who had fled by excluding them from rejoining the church. Liberal Christians were open to forgiveness considering the circumstances, and they advocated for including those who had fled back into the church. The church eventually self-destructed in northern Africa along those lines of tension. Today in America, we experience that same type of tension between exclusive fundamentalists and inclusive liberals. Meanwhile, the church in America may continue to self-destruct like the church in northern Africa once did unless we can somehow figure out how to figure these types of issues out. I would suggest that the strongest voices on the far right and the far left in America are only fanning the flames which could lead to the continued decline of Christianity in America. By the time of the third century, Christianity had spread to a part of the world known as Armenia. Those early Christians laid the foundation for Armenia to be the first nation to establish Christianity as the official state religion at the turn of the fourth century.
  25. 25. 25 Cathedral of Learning (Oakland, 1934) The Cathedral of Learning is central to the campus of the University of Pittsburgh. It is not a church, but it is designed in the style of the late Gothic Revival. It is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere, and the building was completed in 1934. The building contains 27 nationality rooms, which are classrooms that each has a different ethnic emphasis influenced by various countries around the world. An Armenian classroom is one of the 27. The classroom was built to represent the monastery of Sanahin in Armenia, which still exists today and is owned by the Armenian Apostolic Church. Located in the classroom are the thumbprints of five people from the Armenian Diaspora living in Pittsburgh, and one handprint of an infant of Armenian descent. This is one example of how Christians in Pittsburgh can trace their spiritual roots back centuries simply by learning more about buildings used by churches and universities in the region. Gregory of Armenia (240 to 332) “Armenia was a buffer state between Persia and the Roman Empire, and as such had a turbulent history. The founder of Christianity there was Gregory “the Illuminator,” who had been converted while in exile in the Roman Empire, and, after many sufferings and difficulties, converted his relative, King Tiridates III, and baptized him on Epiphany (January 6), A.D. 303. Thus, the rulers of this nation had become Christians before Constantine. Eventually, the rest of the population was converted, and the Bible was
  26. 26. 26 translated into Armenian.”4 The Armenians changed the face of Christianity forever a decade before Constantine legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Many modern Christians believe that the Romans were the first nation to embrace Christianity, but it was actually Armenia. Fourth Century During the fourth century, Christianity became an imperial religion. Armenia started the movement, and shortly thereafter the Roman Emperor Constantine began to endorse Christianity as the Roman Empire’s state religion. Although this served to slow the tide of persecution in the Christian church, it ushered in a whole new set of problems for Christianity now that it was the preferred religion of the powerful. The church became hierarchal, mirroring the ruling systems of the government. Several heresies also emerged during the fourth century, forcing the church to examine itself. The Ebionites tried to make Jesus into some sort of Jewish chieftain. Montanists developed a heretical view of the Holy Spirit. Marcionists purged Judaism out of all New Testament literature. Arianism struggled with the oneness of God, and Jesus’ role in that. That particular heresy divided Christians for a couple of centuries. A great deal of Trinity doctrine was developed because it was triggered by Arianism. Nestorianism did not know what to do with Jesus, missing the point of how the two natures of Christ fit together. Modalism believed that one God had three roles. Adoptionists believed that God adopted Jesus. Many other controversies emerged, and as a result, the heresies eventually strengthened the church by forcing people to think through what they believed. The council of Nicea 4 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 261.
  27. 27. 27 in 325 helped a great deal in that regard. This century would set the stage for how Christianity would develop differently in the East and West. In the West Ambrose took on the Western emperor and won, setting the stage for a powerful role of the church in Western society that still continues to this day. In the East a man named John Chrysostom took on the emperor and lost, setting the stage for a diminished role of the church in Eastern power structures that still continues to this day. St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church (Oakland, 1932) This church is located in a rugged out-of-the-way part of town just to the side of a busy freeway. It towers over the tiny homes of the remnant of steel workers living along the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh. Interestingly, the congregation was the family church of the famous artist Andy Warhol. Warhol often mentioned the religious symbols and themes from his childhood as influences for his artwork. The church was established in 1910, and the current building was completed in 1932. Thousands of commuters drive past this historic church named after a famous fourth century Christian on a daily basis. John Chrysostom (347 to 407) John was one of the greatest Christian preachers of all time. “But for John Chrysostom the pulpit was not simply a podium from which to deliver brilliant pieces of oratory. It was rather the verbal expression of his entire life, his battlefield against the powers of evil, and the unavoidable calling that eventually led to exile and to death itself.”5 He tried to live a monastic life, be he was continually drawn into leadership in 5 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 194.
  28. 28. 28 the church. At one point, he was actually ordered by the emperor to become the Bishop of Constantinople and he was forced against his will to take that position. One of my favorite characteristics of early church leaders is that many of them accepted their leadership positions reluctantly. Modern Christians often seek to advance themselves within church leadership structures, and churches sometimes suffer as a result. In the fourth century the rich and powerful in Constantinople sought to align their faith with their luxuries, so John spent a great deal of effort teaching against prosperity doctrine. He sought to root out corruption in the church through both the leadership and the laity. He gained a tremendous amount of popularity with poor people, and a great deal of hatred from affluent people. He once passionately preached to an affluent audience, “The gold bit on your horse, the gold circlet on the wrist of your slave, the gilding on your shoes, mean that you are robbing the orphan and starving the widow. When you have passed away, each passer-by who looks upon your great mansion will say, ‘How many tears did it take to build that mansion; how many orphans were stripped; how many widows wronged; how many laborers deprived of their honest wages?’ Even death itself will not deliver you from your accusers.”6 As a result of John’s teaching that challenged the powerful people at the world’s largest Christian church, St. Sophia, he became the target for the influential. The empress, who did not like John’s teaching against indulgence, conspired to have him banished from the city. From the remote region where he was forced to go, he began writing and his powerful words proved to be very damaging to the emperor. He was banished to an even further region by the Black Sea, and he became seriously ill and died from neglect along the journey there. Although he 6 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 197.
  29. 29. 29 lost his power struggle with the emperor, he is lovingly remembered by many Christians around the world who celebrate the call that God placed on his life. Fifth Century The Council of Chalcedon was a significant event during the fifth century in 451. That council affirmed the two natures of Christ without confusion, separation, or division. Once again, heresies served a purpose in the development of a more confident Christianity because church leaders were forced to examine and clarify Christian doctrine. Although the majority of the world’s Christians lived in northern Africa at one time, during this century Christianity in that area of the world started to decline. This happened for several reasons. The church in northern African failed to equip indigenous leaders, so they did not empower local people to sustain the church. They never figured out how to deal with race issues or socioeconomic issues. Also, many Christians in northern Africa at that time developed an escapist theology. We can learn from all of these lessons in our modern world. If we fail to empower local leaders, or figure out race and socioeconomic issues, then the modern church in America will fail. If American Christians continue to try to escape the world and distance themselves from the issues impacting society, then Christianity will continue to be marginalized in our country. In the fifth century, Patrick of Ireland understood the need to empower local leaders, overcome cultural barriers, and engage the world missionally. Old Saint Patrick’s Church (Strip District, 1936)
  30. 30. 30 St. Patrick’s was Pittsburgh’s first Catholic church, dedicated in 1811. The current St. Patrick’s Church was built in 1936. Its grounds serve as an oasis in the midst of a bustling urban environment in the Strip District. A famous pastor named Father James Cox came to this parish in 1923. He led an initiative to broadcast the church mass on the radio in 1925. “During the Great Depression, St. Patrick became a center for relief of the poor, distributing over two million free meals and 500,000 baskets of food, clothing, and fuel – all under the direction of Fr. James Cox. Shantytowns, or Hoovervilles, sprung up in the shadow of the church and were populated by jobless men who constructed a community out of any salvageable material.”7 Cox became know as the pastor of the poor. He once led a march on Washington with 25,000 unemployed Pennsylvanians to fight for more social programs for people in America. He even ran for president at one point in a newly formed party called the Jobless Party. His party supported government public works and labor unions. Patrick of Ireland (389 to 461) Patrick has been attributed with the spread of Christianity to Ireland. “As a young lad, Patrick had been captured in Great Britain by Irish raiders, and had served as a slave in Ireland. After an adventurous escape and many other vicissitudes, he had a vision calling him as a missionary to his former captors. Back in Ireland, he met various perils, but eventually his success was great, and the inhabitants were baptized in droves. Soon monasteries were founded, and the learning of antiquity became one of their major interests.”8 “When he returned to Ireland in 432 and was appointed a bishop, he did not 7 Mary Ann Knochel, Images of America (San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 2007), 18. 8 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 235.
  31. 31. 31 stay in a diocese or live as a leader among Christians. His new calling was to the totally pagan territories of the north, and later to the wildwest and southeast. He planted monasteries, most often led by the local elites whom he had won to faith in Christ, and encouraged scholarship and arts in all of them.”9 Patrick’s work attracted many young people, and a healthy Celtic mission to many different places was birthed. The movement was an interesting mix of monasticism and missions. Sixth Century During the sixth century, Christians tried to figure out the question, “Who is man?” As a result of the Synod of Orange in 529, Catholics rejected Augustine’s views on the subject. Catholics came to believe that man was sick and he needed the sacraments in order to survive. Also at this time, Western churches resonated more with Mark’s gospel message and they became more active in the world. Eastern churches resonated more with John’s gospel, and they became more contemplative. Five great urban churches were well-known during this century: Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome. At the time, Jerusalem served as the mother church. Also during the sixth century, monasticism really began to take shape led by a man named Benedict. The Priory Hotel (North Side, 1852) Tucked away in a corner of the North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh is a beautiful building with a rich history. The Priory is currently used as a hotel, but it was 9 Ray Bakke, A Surprising Journey (Acme: Bakken Books, 2009), 85.
  32. 32. 32 once a Benedictine monastery. Initially the building was a church called St. Mary’s Parish, and it was built in Italianate classical architecture style (a rarity in Pittsburgh). In 1888 it became a home for Benedictine priests and brothers, the monastic order originally founded by Saint Benedict around 1500 years earlier. Benedict of Nursia (480 to 550) “The main figure of western monasticism in its formative years – in many ways, its founder – was Benedict, who was born in the small Italian town of Nursia.”10 He initially lived in a cave as a hermit before founding a monastic movement in a remote place called Monte Cassino. He became very famous throughout the region. He is most famous for the establishment of the Rule, a new structure for monastic life back then that still is utilized today. His work impacted Christianity for centuries. “Monks became adept at copying both the Bible and other books, and thus preserved them for later generations. Their houses also became teaching centers, particularly for the many children that were placed under their care in order to be trained as monks. And many also served in hospitals and pharmacies, or as hostels where a weary traveler could find shelter. Eventually, monasteries also had a profound economic impact, for many were established on marginal lands that were brought into production by the labor of the monks. Thus, countless acres were added to the agricultural land of Europe.”11 Also during this time period, “Eastern monasticism placed a higher value on solitude, often rivaling the institutional church. Western monasticism was more practical and always 10 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 238. 11 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 241.
  33. 33. 33 maintained contact with surrounding communities. The monasteries were not threatening to the official church until later, when their independence and wealth promoted powerful abbots, but that was centuries after Benedict.”12 Seventh Century Islam emerged in the seventh century. Islam is essentially a Christian heresy which really gathered tremendous strength that continues through today. Muslims believed there is not god but Allah, and so they rejected the Trinity. In the centuries that followed, Islam often grew the most in places where Christianity had failed such as northern Africa. We can see this happening today as well. Islam often moves in when Christianity declines, and Christianity is declining in Europe and in America. In England, for instance, there are now more Muslims than Lutherans or Methodists combined. During the centuries leading up to the seventh century, Christianity lost Africa but it gained Europe. Also during the seventh century, Eastern and Western Christians developed different methods of missiology. Western Christians believed that they had a corner on the Holy Spirit, so that they were bringing the Holy Spirit with them when they moved into a new community to share the gospel. Eastern Christians believed that the Holy Spirit could not be controlled, and they found the Spirit already at work when ever they attempted to spread the gospel message into a new place. These missionary strategies have continued on throughout the history of Christianity since then. To this day, many Western Christian missionaries believe that they are bringing the gospel into dark places that are far from God. Most Eastern Christian missionaries believe that God is already at work in places, and it is their job to figure out how the Holy 12 Ray Bakke, A Surprising Journey (Acme: Bakken Books, 2009), 90.
  34. 34. 34 Spirit is moving and then help those local residents make the connection between their local indigenous beliefs and God. Gregory the Great made a huge impact in the sixth century which carried on into the seventh century. Calvary Episcopal Church (Shadyside, 1906) This is an amazing church in an affluent urban neighborhood in Pittsburgh. The church was organized in 1855, and the current building was completed in 1906. It is the largest and most influential Episcopal Church in the Pittsburgh area. Charles Connick designed 70 stained glass windows for the church in the 1920s and 1930s. One particularly spectacular panel of stained glass depicts Gregory the Great. Gregory the Great (540 to 604) Gregory was an amazing man. He was born in Rome during a very tumultuous time period for that city, where it was in chaos and had suffered from a great deal of mismanagement. The city had health epidemics, broken systems, and constant danger of attacks from the Lombards. It appears that Gregory was some sort of Roman administrative official before becoming a monk, a deacon, an abbot, bishop of Rome, and eventually Pope. The people elected him to be Pope even though he did not want the position (the previous Pope, Pelagius, had become ill and died during the work of caring for the sick and burying the dead). “Since there was nobody else to do it, he organized the distribution of food among the needy in Rome, and he also took measures to guarantee the continuing shipments of wheat from Sicily. Likewise, he supervised the rebuilding of the aqueducts and of the defenses of the city, and the garrison was drilled
  35. 35. 35 until morale was restored. Since there was little help to be expected from Constantinople, he then opened direct negotiations with the Lombards, with whom he secured peace.”13 He was also a gifted preacher and writer with thoughts resonating throughout the course of the Middle Ages. He demonstrated that Christians can be effective leaders in many different systems in society even though they may also be strongly involved in church leadership. Eighth Century The Eastern and Western church had a major split in 787, mainly over the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and also the seemingly controversial words “in the Son.” This split had been brewing for a long time because the Eastern church and the Western church had always had significant differences. Today, many Western Christians do not know much about their Eastern spiritual heritage and the many different types of churches and Christian movements that exist today because of events that happened throughout the course of the Eastern Byzantine Empire centuries ago. Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church (Oakland, 1960) This church was formed in 1907, and the current building was built in 1960. The church originally was formed to serve an immigrant population from Carpatho-Ruthenia (part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). Most of the immigrants came to Pittsburgh to work in the steel mills and to find economic prosperity. They represent another ethnic 13 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 246.
  36. 36. 36 group of people that make up the cultural DNA of the broader Pittsburgh region. Many Pittsburghers can trace their roots back to Eastern Christianity. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (665 to 740) From what little we know of his childhood, his father, Justinian, was an elite who was involved in the murder of the emperor Constans II. Constans II’s son defeated the people involved in the overthrow, however, and as a result of the persecution Germanus was castrated. He lived in a monastery for a while, became a bishop, and eventually he was elected to the position of Patriarch of Constantinople. He was a reconciler, working hard to restore relations with the Armenian Apostolic Church (the oldest Christian state church dating back to 301 A.D.). He was a defender of the faith against iconoclasts (many people at the time considered them to be heretics). He clashed with the emperor Leo III, who had him beaten and thrown out of his position in the church. He lived to be 95 years old, finishing out his days in a monastery. He is considered a saint by both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. He is an example to Christians that we can have troubled beginnings and overcome obstacles in life in order to continue on to make a difference for Christ in this world. Ninth Century After 600 years of missionary work, the Vikings were converted to Christianity during the ninth century. Also during the ninth century, Christians made the decision to start killing Muslims instead of converting them. Universities began to form out of the
  37. 37. 37 church. Most modern universities around the Western world have their roots in Christianity in one way or another. Although many modern American Christians would think of the ninth century as a dark period on the progress of human history, there were many progressive movements going on in places all over the world outside of Europe. We just do not learn about those things in America because most of our history text books are provided for us from a New England, or European, perspective. One example of how Christianity advanced during this time period involves the spread of the gospel to the Slavs. First Presbyterian Church (Downtown, 1905) This is one of the oldest Protestant churches west of the Allegheny Mountains. Originally founded in 1787, the current building was completed in 1905. The church is famous for its fourteen stained glass windows that were installed by Tiffany. An ancient burial ground lies on the site where the current church is located. Although American Presbyterians used the space for burying their dead, Native Americans utilized that land for burial purposes long before European Protestants arrived on the continent of North America. The Puritans had a much different approach to impacting the Native American population in America when they arrived than the Orthodox missionaries who worked their way down the west coast of America at the time. Many Orthodox missionary strategies that went on to impact the native population in America were formed during the ninth century through Cyril and Methodius. Cyril (826 to 869) and Methodius (826 to 885) of Moravia
  38. 38. 38 “In Istanbul, two Thessalonian Greek-speaking brothers, Cyril and Methodius, were commissioned for a mission to the Slavs. Cyril, the primary translator, created a Slavic alphabet later known as Cyrillic. Methodius was primarily a preacher, but also an effective evangelist using biblical art. Between them they created a pan-Slavic literature.”14 The brothers translated the Bible into the local language of the people. They worked as if the Holy Spirit was already there when they arrived to share the gospel message. They empowered the local people, while the Western missionaries working there imposed their version of Christianity on the local people. Eventually, the Slavs found a way to observe both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic ways of worshipping God. An example of this phenomenon in Pittsburgh is the St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, (covered in the fourth century part of this project). Churches in several countries around the world contain unique mixtures of Eastern and Western Christian influences. We all bring cultural biases with us when we share the Gospel cross- culturally. Modern Western Christians should learn from our Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ that the Holy Spirit is already at work in all places where we think we are somehow bringing the presence of God with us. This is crucial for people who work with marginalized people in troubled urban neighborhoods. We should assume that the Holy Spirit has been at work there before we arrived. Tenth Century The tenth century included a great deal of reform in both the church and monastic movements. Monks took on power structures within the papal hierarchy. One monastery, called Cluny, became a center of monastic reform and influence throughout 14 Ray Bakke, A Surprising Journey (Acme: Bakken Books, 2009), 109.
  39. 39. 39 Western Europe for hundreds of years due to a long run of effective abbots. “At the high point, the reforming zeal of the Cluniacs knew no bounds. After ordering the life of hundreds of monastic houses, they set their sights on the reformation of the entire church. This was the darkest hour of the papacy, when pontiffs succeeded one another with breathtaking frequency, and when popes and bishops had become feudal lords, involved in every intrigue that was brewing.”15 Also during the tenth century, the Orthodox Church achieved great missionary results in Russia. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (North Side, 1923) The Orthodox Church has a solid presence in Pittsburgh. This church was originally established to serve first generation Greek immigrants to Pittsburgh who had settled on the north side of the city. Most of the immigrants at the time were extremely poor, and the church had to be very creative about supporting its mission. Many of the early priests did not have a salary, so they depended on the community to take care of them. The church holds a large Greek festival each year. Just as in the history of this church, the Orthodox missionary movement in Russia during the tenth century was moved forward by Christians who were very creative. Olga of Kiev (879 to 969) Orthodox missionary strategies are unique in their attention to local culture. The Orthodox missionaries in tenth century Russia focused on the important role of language in understanding the gospel message. “There can be no doubt that the use of the 15 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 279.
  40. 40. 40 vernacular language also played a part in the conversion of the princess Olga in Kiev and her grandson Vladimir, the first Christian ruler of the Rus’, in the middle and late decades of the ninth century.”16 The conversion of Olga is one of the most significant events in Christian history. Christianity helped Russians to fend off Muslim influences. Also, “by 1240, when the Mongols invaded Russia and ruled the country for over two centuries, Christianity was the national bond of unity that allowed Russia to survive as a nation, and eventually to be rid of the invaders.”17 Eleventh Century In 1054, the split between East and West fractured even further when churches actually excommunicated one another. Also, the first crusades began. Pope Urban II helped to advance a Holy War theology, the idea being that Christians should rid the world of Muslims by killing them instead of trying to convert them to Christianity. Today, many Muslims see the Crusades as a holocaust. Also, Christians still struggle with how to interact with Muslims. During the eleventh century, Anselm of Canterbury was very active in bridging the gap between intellectualism at universities and Christianity. Today, the Heinz Chapel on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh is a unique example of the relationship between higher education and religion. Heinz Chapel (Oakland, 1938) 16 Adrian Hastings, A World History of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1999), 84. 17 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 264.
  41. 41. 41 In the early 1900s, Henry John Heinz wanted to build a special building at the University of Pittsburgh in memory of his mother. He died in 1919, but his heirs carried out his wishes and the Heinz Memorial Chapel was built. It was dedicated in 1938, and at the ceremony Howard Heinz said, “It is located in a community where my father was born and lived his life. It is on the campus of a university. As part of that university, it is dedicated to culture, an understanding response to beauty, and religious worship.” The chapel does not belong to any one denomination, though it is used heavily throughout the year for special events, religious services, and weddings. Anselm of Canterbury (1033 to 1109) “From 1093 until his death, he was Archbishop of Canterbury, but spent much of that time in exile from English kings who disputed the power and authority of official church leaders. While in exile he wrote books that made him famous among emerging academics in Europe.”18 He is a person of Christian interest because of his writings while in exile which were very scholarly. He made a tremendous impact on universities among students who were questioning their belief systems. He is an important figure for modern Christians who are involved in Christian work on college campuses. Anselm used reason to communicate the gospel message, thus demonstrating that Christians should not be afraid to use reason in sharing the gospel message. He is considered to be one of the greatest theologians of all time, and also a pioneer of scholasticism. Twelfth Century 18 Ray Bakke, A Surprising Journey (Acme, Bakken Books, 2009), 119.
  42. 42. 42 The Crusades began late in the eleventh century and continued on well into the twelfth century. “The occasion for the Second Crusade was the fall of Edessa, taken by the sultan of Aleppo in 1144. Once again, popular preachers arose who called for the masses to invade the Holy Land. Along the way, some also said, Jews should be exterminated. The preaching of Bernard of Clairvaux was very different, for it sought both to organize an army of relief for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and to refute the fiery preaching of those who advocated a mad rush to Jerusalem.”19 In addition to the Crusades, many Gothic cathedrals were built throughout Europe during the twelfth century. Pittsburgh has one such example of that type of architecture. East Liberty Presbyterian Church (East Liberty, 1935) The congregation of this church dates back to 1819, and the current church building was built in 1935. Banker Richard B. Mellon and his wife donated $4,000,000 for the building in memory of their parents. At the time, many people in Pittsburgh whispered that Mr. Mellon donated the money in order to secure his ticket to heaven. The church was built in the style of Gothic cathedrals in Europe, a style that was developed in the twelfth century under the influence of the Cistercian Order. Today this incredible building serves as an anchor of a large urban community on the east end of the city that has had over $400 million dollars invested in its development over the past ten to fifteen years. This church cathedral in East Liberty was influenced by the Cistercian movement in the twelfth century. That means that Pittsburghers can trace their roots back to Bernard of Clairvaux. 19 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishing, 1984), 296.
  43. 43. 43 Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 to 1153) “The great figure of the Cistercian movement was Bernard of Clairvaux, who was twenty-three years old when he presented himself at Citeaux (in 1112 or 1113) in the company of several relatives and friends, and requested admission to the community.”20 He was a monk who was also a famous preacher, and he intervened in many political and ecclesiastical disputes. He was very smart, but he also had a strong personality that really influenced people. He was a tremendous leader and reformer during the monastic movement in the twelfth century. “But Bernard was not primarily a politician. He was a mystic in love with Jesus, who sought to bring warmth and devotion to Jesus through popular Latin hymns still sung in our own time.”21 Bernard is an example for modern Christians that we can use our gifts and influence to help others, and still maintain an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Thirteenth Century During the thirteenth century, universities really began to gather momentum. The University of Paris became one of the biggest universities in the world. Oxford had around 3,000 students at the time. There were not formal exams back then. Only the scholastically fit survived to advance in the world of education. Today, there are universities throughout the world because of the scholastic expansion that occurred in this century. A Fourth Crusade was also launched in the thirteenth century. It ended up being 20 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 282. 21 Ray Bakke, A Surprising Journey (Acme: Bakken Books, 2009), 127.
  44. 44. 44 almost a complete disaster. Instead of attacking the Muslims in their headquarters in Egypt, the armies ended up going to Constantinople and taking that city. This action had devastating consequences for relations between Eastern and Western Christians, even though in theory the churches were finally united. The Latin Christians were convinced that God had wanted the church to be in unity, “But the Byzantines did not accept matters so easily, and continued a long resistance. Finally, in 1261, they retook Constantinople, and ended the Latin Empire. The net result of the entire episode was that the enmity of the Greek East toward the Latin West grew.”22 St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church (South Side, 1897) St. John’s is located minutes from downtown in the South Side. It has eight Eastern-looking domes, and it is generally considered to be a church that captures well the ethnic diversity within Pittsburgh neighborhoods. The church has its own Patriarch and Bishops from Ukraine, but it is Catholic in union with Rome. This is a church that has both an Eastern and a Western heritage. Many of these types of churches exist around the world and in cities throughout the United States. Pittsburghers can visit this church to see yet another example of how church history defines much of what we believe today. This church still attracts people of many different types of ethnic backgrounds, and in the thirteenth century Francis of Assisi launched a movement that took Christianity to many different parts of the world. Francis of Assisi (1181 to 1226) 22 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1985), 297.
  45. 45. 45 Francis embraced a life of poverty, giving everything he had to the poor even though he came from a family with financial means. He gave up his inheritance in order to live as a hermit. “Then, late in 1209, he heard the reading of the Gospel (Matt. 10:7- 10), where Jesus sent his disciples to preach, taking with them no gold or silver. Until then, he had been concerned almost exclusively with voluntary poverty and the joy he found in it. Now he saw the possibility of joining poverty with preaching. His place would not be quiet solitude, but in the bustle of the cities, wherever people were, preaching to them, helping the poor and the sick. Now voluntary poverty was not only a means of self-discipline, but even more, a means to identify with those who were poor out of necessity.”23 Franciscans went throughout Europe to preach, sing, and beg. The group was very mission-minded. Francis himself had traveled to Egypt to share Christ with the leader of that country. By the time Francis died, his order was a global force. He is inspirational to modern missionaries, especially in urban environments where Francis modeled for us how to serve the poor and give ourselves away to others. Fourteenth Century The fourteenth century was brutal on Europe. The Bubonic plague hit, and almost one third of Europe died. Much of Europe was at war with one another. For a while, Christianity did not spread because of the influence of powerful people. It spread because Christians would actually go into cities where people were dying of the plague while the powerful people would be making their way out of those cities. They probably passed each other on the road. Christians went into the cities to care for people who 23 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 303.
  46. 46. 46 became ill and to bury the dead. Many Christians also became ill and died, and the gospel message spread throughout Europe as a result. Today, the same phenomenon is occurring in America. Since the 1950s and 1960s, white Americans have been fleeing cities at a high rate. Many middle class and affluent minorities have also left cities in order to settle down in the suburbs. In many urban centers, only poor, minority populations are left. Christianity is declining in America, and perhaps it has something to do with middle class and affluent Christians fleeing from the brokenness of city systems and urban life in order to distance themselves from the problems. This has happened in Pittsburgh to a large extent, where many Pittsburgh suburbs become more and more affluent while minority neighborhoods near Pittsburgh’s inner city experience more and more pain and poverty. What can the suburban church do now, though, to help the situation? First, suburban Christians can repent for causing so much pain to inner city Christians. Also, suburban Christians can acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is active in cities, and join forces through partnership with urban Christians who are making a difference in cities all across America. Just like the Christians in the fourteenth century who ministered to people who were hurting in urban centers, modern suburban Christians have the opportunity to go back in to urban centers to help people in need. St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (Oakland, 1923) The church was originally started with Greek immigrants who came to Pittsburgh to participate in the many local industries. The building has a great location, within walking distance of many universities, hospitals, and cultural draws in Pittsburgh. This is yet another example of a Pittsburgh church that can trace its roots back to the long history
  47. 47. 47 between Eastern and Western Christians. During the fourteenth century, John of Montecorvino was a leader who took a shot at reconciling Eastern and Western Christians (among many other things he accomplished globally during his lifetime). John of Montecorvino (1246 to 1328) Francis’ missional mindset greatly influenced John who was one of his followers. In 1272, he was commissioned by a Byzantine emperor to reconcile Greek Orthodox and Roman churches. He traveled to places like Persia, Ethiopia, India, and China during his lifetime. Thousands of people were converted to Christianity as a result of his work. The pope made him an archbishop in China, even sending seven other Franciscans to serve with him there. Four of the people sent by the pope died before they arrived. That is an example of just how dangerous the work was for John. He is an example for modern Christians about how we should take risks for the sake of the gospel. He learned Chinese, preached in that language in the church he built across the street from the imperial palace, and translated the New Testament and Psalms into Chinese. His mission in China endured forty years after his death. Eventually, the Chinese rose up to expel the Mongols and usher in the Ming Dynasty in 1368. All Christians were forced to leave China during the Ming Dynasty. Another takeaway from John’s life is that as Christian leaders, we can do our best to build something sustainable but at the end of the day we need to trust that God is in control of whether or not the work grows after we are gone. Fifteenth Century
  48. 48. 48 The fifteenth century was extremely tumultuous in Europe due to the impact of The Hundred Years’ War that focused on England and France but influenced just about every country. Joan of Arc lived during this time period. She was a national heroine in France, and she was also made a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. The church in general became caught up in many disputes, and the Great Schism occurred within the church as a result. In the East, Constantine fell to the Turks in 1453 during a battle in which the Emperor Constantine XI Paleologus was killed. Constantine’s vision for a new Rome came to and end that year, and the Moslems have ruled that city every since. Columbus arrived in the New World during the fifteenth century, and a young man named Bartolome de Las Casas was born in Spain at about that time. Trinity Cathedral (Downtown, 1872) This Episcopalian church was built in English Gothic style. The congregation experienced a disastrous fire in 1967, and as a result much of the church was modernized. In 2003, the Cathedral started displaying many flags from all over the world. One of flags on display is from Spain, the birthplace of Bartolome de Las Casas. In the spirit of las Casas, this church provides many social services to poor people in Pittsburgh throughout the course of the week. Las Casas of Spain (1474 to 1566) Bartolome de Las Casas was born in Spain, and he settled in Santo Domingo. He may have been the first priest ever to be ordained in the New World. Early in his career as a priest he was not really concerned with the plight of Indians. He had a profound
  49. 49. 49 change of heart, and fought during his whole lifetime for the rights of the Indian population who had been enslaved by their Spanish oppressors. He travelled throughout Latin America, to Venezuela, Santo Domingo, Central America, and Mexico. He advocated heavily in Spain during many years in his life. He was a prolific author, but his books were banned in many places that were profiting from the slave labor provided by Indians. “In 1516, Las Casas, in his zeal for the well-being of the Indians, suggested that slaves be imported from Africa. He soon recanted, and became a defender of blacks as well as of Indians.”24 Las Casas had a decades-long debate with his adversary, Sepulveda, which focused on the treatment of Natives by the Spanish. Sepulveda believed that the Natives did not have souls based on the philosophies of Aristotle. Las Casas debated in many prominent circles that the Natives did have souls, and that they were being abused by the Spanish explorers. Las Casas demonstrated for modern Christians that we should speak out against injustice in our world. We can use the gifts that God has given us to make a difference in the world for people who are oppressed. Sixteenth Century For Protestants, the sixteenth century is significant because Martin Luther ushered in the Reformation along with leaders such as John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. Three separate Protestant denominations were launched from those three individuals. Luther and Calvin had a great deal in common, but they were also very different people. Both were pastors to the poor, which kept them connected to the people even though they were highly engaged intellectually and philosophically in the arena of religious thought. 24 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 384.
  50. 50. 50 However, Luther was quite a character. He had a great sense of humor, and he was the kind of person who would have a beer with his friends. Calvin, on the other hand, was very serious. He was a brilliant reformer, but he was also very moralistic. He wrote the first Protestant systematic theology. Six different reform movements emerged during the Reformation, taking shape in the form of education, evangelization, structure, Anabaptists, government, and mission. All six reform techniques were embraced by Calvin and Luther. In our modern context, we can learn that there should not be only one way to bring about change in the church. We must embrace multi-faceted approaches to complex issues. The Reformation also led to an explosion of lay ministry. Church leadership was no longer only done by priests or people who were high up in the hierarchy. Now, anyone could be empowered to lead, whether they were a pastor or not. As a response to the reformers, Catholics went to war with Protestants over a period of thirty years. The sixteenth century also included a great deal of exploration. Christian work was going on in the United States long before the Pilgrims arrived. A church had been established in Peco, New Mexico by 1550. A Christian mission was established in Florida in 1555. The Hispanics had built a city in America 65 years before the Pilgrims arrived. Many modern Americans do not know about these things because history is written by those who belong to the victorious culture. Pedro Claver was an amazing Christian leader during the sixteenth century. St. Anthony Chapel (Troy Hill, 1880) Suitbert Godfrey Mollinger was a pastor originally from a wealthy family in The Netherlands who made his way to western Pennsylvania in the 1850s. He became the
  51. 51. 51 first pastor of Most Holy Name of Jesus Church in Troy Hill in 1868. He used his financial means to build a chapel to house all of the relics he had collected from around the world. The enormous collection of relics is one of the largest in the world, behind only the collection in Vatican City. Because of that reason, people travel to this chapel in the Troy Hill neighborhood from all over the world. The vast collection includes a relic of Pedro Claver. Pedro Claver (1580 to 1654) Claver was a Jesuit missionary to the New World. “His superiors thought that he lacked intelligence, and he was still a novice when he arrived at Cartagena in 1610. He had ample opportunity to see the suffering of black slaves, and therefore when he was finally allowed to make his final vows in 1622 he added a further vow to his signature: Petrus Claver, aethiopum simper servus – Pedro Claver, forever a servant of the blacks. (Gonzalez 392)”25 Claver ran to meet slave ships when they arrived. He cared for the sick, he buried the slaves who died from the long journey, and he evangelized to the new arrivals in their own language by recruiting other slaves to be interpreters. He established a leprosarium for lepers. He cleaned out the sores of infected blacks who got sick during three separate outbreaks of smallpox in Cartagena. He constantly served the poor throughout his entire life. He became struck with a terrible illness toward the end of his days. “His fellow Jesuits trusted his care to a slave, and Claver had to suffer in his own flesh the consequences of the evil that his race had inflicted upon the black race, for the slave treated him cruelly, letting him lie in his own filth and in many other ways 25 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984), 392.
  52. 52. 52 reproducing on his sickbed many of the tortures of the slaves’ Atlantic passage.”26 At the very end of his life, the elites in his society visited him in his cell and they carried away many of his relics. Claver is an example for modern Christians that sometimes God calls us to serve others no matter the cost and no matter what popular culture thinks about us. God may call us to a countercultural life in order to spread the gospel. Seventeenth Century Many great things happened as a result of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, but missional expansion was not really one of them. That all changed in the seventeenth century during the Age of Reason which continued on into the eighteenth century. Human progress became an important metanarrative for people around the world to live in. Much happened in the seventeenth century involving the expansion of Western Christianity across the Atlantic Ocean and around the world. Africans were greatly involved in the expansion of Christianity primarily because they were taken as slaves to many parts of Europe and the Americas. Today, African-Americans have a rich cultural heritage in America. Christianity is exploding in Latin America and Africa, particularly through the Pentecostal movement. However, this is not a new phenomenon. Christianity has deep roots in Africa. Black Jews have existed since 900 B.C. The Ethiopian church has deep roots in ancient Judaism and fourth century Christianity. During the fourth century, 25 percent of the world’s Christian population resided in northern Africa. God has moved throughout Africa in the course of history, and he continues to do so today. 26 Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (New York: HarperCollins Publishing, 1984), 394.
  53. 53. 53 St. Benedict the Moor (Hill District, 1962) This is an African-American church in the heart of an African-American neighborhood in Pittsburgh called the Hill District. It was founded in 1889, and has been in its current building since 1962. Benedict the Moor, also known as Benedict the Black, was born near Messina, Italy in 1526. He was the son of African slaves who became Christians while they were in Italy. He was released from slavery when he was eighteen. He worked as a day laborer, and gave away his money to the poor. In his down time he took care of the sick, and he was often ridiculed with racist remarks. He ended up living with a group of hermits for a while, where he eventually ended up leading them and helping the group to prosper. His group merged with the Franciscan movement, and at that point Benedict’s fame grew throughout the country. He was very popular where ever he went, and God worked through him in amazing ways. He had a profound understanding of theology, and he also helped many people. Modern Christians can learn from Benedict the Moor that God can work through us to spread Christianity no matter what our life circumstances look like. Pedro Paez from the seventeenth century is another example of God working through a person in might ways even though the start to the journey may be bumpy. Father Paez (1564 to 1622) A missionary’s journey is never predictable. “The Spanish Jesuit, Father Paez, was captured by pirates and forced to work for a number of years as a galley slave,
  54. 54. 54 eventually arriving in Ethiopia in 1603.”27 When he was sent to Ethiopia, he was held captive in Yemen for seven years. During his time in captivity he learned Arabic. He learned the language and customs of the Ethiopians well, and he eventually converted two separate Ethiopian rulers to Catholicism. He built a stone church in Ethiopia for his fellow Jesuits in 1621, and, in fact, many of the churches he designed in Ethiopia during the seventeenth century are still standing in Ethiopia. Father Paez is a great example for modern Christians in how to persevere through the trials that often come in spreading Christianity. God may build lasting results in spite of our human efforts. Eighteenth Century The Enlightenment continued to be a large theme in the eighteenth century, although it was eventually challenged by reasoned apologetics, revolution, and revival. Jonathan Edwards was one of the greatest minds to emerge in the eighteenth century, comparable to the likes of Thomas Jefferson. He was a preacher, theologian, and missionary to Native Americans. The Enlightenment was definitely central to his great intellect. As a result of his work, the eighteenth century in America was definitely very Puritan. Global missions also continued to advance during the eighteenth century, particularly through people like Bartholomaeus Zieganbalg. First Baptist Church (Oakland, 1912) In June 1812, Adoniram and Ann Judson set sail for India to become the first American Baptist missionaries. At that same time, David Jones, an army chaplain and 27 Adrian Hastings, A World History of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1999), 199.
  55. 55. 55 missionary to the Indians, helped a handful of English glassblowers and their families organize the First Baptist Church of Pittsburgh. This church has always had a global focus. Throughout the years, their congregation has been active in the abolition of slavery, racial reconciliation, and campus ministry due to their close proximity to so many universities in Oakland. Korean and Chinese churches have worshipped here in the past, and currently a Japanese congregation and a Spanish speaking congregation share the same building for church services. Modern American churches could learn a lot from this old church in Pittsburgh about how to develop a global perspective on evangelism, just as they could learn from Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg. Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg (1683 to 1719) Ziegenbalg was the first Protestant missionary to India in 1706. With his friend, Heinrich Plutschau, they encountered hostility upon arrival in India. Ziegenbalg was placed in jail for four months when he arrived in India because the governor of the area thought they might interfere with business. They experienced much persecution initially in India. However, they persevered on to learn local languages and establish many schools with which to reach out to children. They established a printing press, and they collected many ancient oriental manuscripts. Ziegenbalg discipled many local leaders, and many Indian people accepted Christ. However, an “extremely narrow-minded new head of the Home Board, Christopher Wendt, sent a devastating letter to the missionaries. Ziegenbalg – gifted, emotional, sometimes impetuous, but wholly dedicated – was so deeply wounded that he never recovered. Already in precarious health, he penned a careful and judicious reply, ‘with his heart’s blood’, while his condition deteriorated: he
  56. 56. 56 died early in 1719, at the age of 36. New missionaries, arriving four months later, delivered another missive heavy with condemnation. Grundler, Ziegenbalg’s close and competent friend, was so overcome that he too succumbed within a few months. These fatalities so shocked the home authorities that Wendt, in due course, was dismissed and his theories abandoned.”28 Even though this story is tragic, Ziegenbalg’s work lived on because of his high level of scholarly accomplishment during his short lifetime. “He was the first scholar to complete a Tamir translation of the entire New Testament, a work which was printed in Tranquebar in 1715.”29 Modern Christians can learn from Ziegenbalg that as passionate as our life’s work may seem, it can still be destroyed by well-meaning Christians who are disengaged from the context of our calling. We should be prepared to respond to that type of adversity at times. Nineteenth Century The nineteenth century launched several influential cultural movements. Darwinism was introduced to the world. Karl Marx’s ideas for society entered into the planning of cultures. Psychology was born in this century. Subjectivity was embraced over objectivity. Spirituality was suppressed by progressives, but eventually John Wesley arose in that context. He placed a big emphasis on Pietism, and several national and international missionary movements were launched as a result. Many German missionaries emerged out of Lutheran Pietism, and Wesley essentially founded Methodism. Also, following the Civil War in America, many churches became socially 28 Adrian Hastings, A World History of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 175. 29 Adrian Hastings, A World History of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 175.
  57. 57. 57 active. Architectural evangelism was started, and so was the YMCA in America and the Salvation Army in England. First Lutheran Church (Downtown, 1888) This church was established by pioneers in 1837 as the first English-speaking Lutheran church west of the Allegheny Mountains. The current building was built in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh in 1888. The Reverend J.C.F. Heyer was the first pastor of the congregation. Another pastor, Father Heyer, became the first American Lutheran pastor to become a missionary. He served in India. Other notable pastors of First Church’s past were the Reverend Dr. William A. Passavant, founder of the Pittsburgh Synod of 1845 and father of Lutheran social ministries. Dr. William Passavant (1821 to 1894) He was born in Zelienople, Pennsylvania, and he began his ministry career in Baltimore, Maryland in 1842. He published several journals for the Lutheran church. As a pastor back in western Pennsylvania, he dedicated himself to the establishment of several benevolent institutions. In addition, he was involved in bringing four deaconesses to the United States in 1849 to develop a hospital in Pittsburgh (now called Passavant Hospital). Thiel College in western Pennsylvania was started as a direct result of a conversation between Passavant and A. Louis Thiel in 1866. Passavant founded many other institutions, including hospitals, orphanages, colleges, and seminaries throughout the country. Today, the church in Pittsburgh where I attend and work, called North Way Christian Community, was founded by Dr. William Passavant’s great-great grandson, Dr.
  58. 58. 58 Jay Passavant. Over 3,000 members of North Way can trace their spiritual roots back to the First Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh and the German missionaries in the nineteenth century. Twentieth Century Many women played a significant role in the advancement of Christianity throughout the world during the twentieth century. Dorothy Day made a huge impact on the streets of New York during the 1920s. Jane Addams practically invented Christian social ministries in the United States. When male evangelical leaders in America became threatened by the advancement of women in leadership positions during the 1920s, those men suppressed the women by denying access to seminary education and closing down access to leadership opportunities. Throughout the course of Christian history, many women have been active leaders in the church but their leadership was often ignored by male-dominated church leadership and church historians throughout the centuries. In America during the twentieth century, women were forced to go international in order to serve in leadership. As a result, women like Mother Theresa in India utilized their leadership skills in distant lands. Many parachurch organizations were launched during the twentieth century. These types of organizations are very effective at focusing on one or perhaps two specific problematic issues facing society. The areas of specialization are what differentiate parachurch organizations from the local church. Smithfield United Church (Downtown, 1927)
  59. 59. 59 The Smithfield congregation, founded in 1782, is the oldest organized church in the city. The original members of the church were German, and in 1812 the congregation named itself the German Evangelical Protestant Church, the first such church in the world. The church joined forces with the Slavonic Congregational Church in 1960 and was federated with the Smithfield United Methodist Church in 1968. The affiliation with the United Methodist Church was discontinued in 1994. Today the church is an extremely diverse and open community in the midst of downtown Pittsburgh. The current building is the sixth building that the church has used. The church still places a high value on its German heritage. Many famous Christians, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, have emerged out of Germany over the years. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 to 1945) Bonhoeffer had many accomplishments in his short life, but he is probably most remembered for how he bravely stood up to Nazi forces in his home country during World War II. “After war broke out, and the Confessing Church was forced underground, a few notable Christian leaders in Germany, in particular Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), made clear their absolute opposition to the Nazi regime… After being imprisoned in Buchenwald in 1943, Bonhoeffer was eventually hanged by the Gestapo at Flossenburg in 1945.”30 This great preacher and theologian was killed for the sake of Christ. Before he was killed, he had the opportunity to travel extensively to many different places. He studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he met Frank Fisher, a black seminarian who introduced him to a church in Harlem where he developed a life-long love for the African-American worship experience. 30 Adrian Hastings, A World History of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 502.