December 8 in Christian History

Dec 08, 2008 04:28 AM EST

1775 - Anglican clergyman and hymnwriter John Newton wrote in a letter: 'This is faith: a renouncing of everything we are apt to call our own and relying wholly upon the blood, righteousness and intercession of Jesus.'

1854 - Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in his apostolic letter, "Ineffabilis Deus." It asserted that by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, Mary was freed from original sin "in the first instant of conception."

1907 - Christmas seals were sold for the first time, to raise funds to fight tuberculosis. Today, Christmas seal income is used primarily in the fight against birth defects.

1962 - The Rev. John Melville Burgess was consecrated as suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts -- the first African American bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church to serve a predominantly white diocese.

1981 - In one of its major rulings regarding the issue of the separation of Church and State, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of student organizations holding religious services at public colleges and universities.

© 1987-2008, William D. Blake. Used by permission of the author, from

Almanac of the Christian Church