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This week in Christian history: Episcopal diocese breaks away, St. Peter’s Basilica completed

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Throughout the extensive history of the Church, there have been numerous events of lasting significance.

Each week brings anniversaries of impressive milestones, unforgettable tragedies, amazing triumphs, memorable births, notable deaths and everything in between.

Some of the events drawn from over 2,000 years of history might be familiar, while other happenings might be previously unknown by most people.

This week — Nov. 14 through Nov. 20 — marks the anniversary of a diocese leaving its denomination, the completion of one of the most iconic Catholic basilicas and the wedding of a legendary evangelist. 

South Carolina Diocese votes to leave Episcopal Church – Nov. 17, 2012

Mark Lawrence
The Reverend Mark Lawrence, bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, on the steps of Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston, South Carolina, in April of 2014. | Joy Hunter

This week marks the anniversary of when most of the leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina voted to leave the Episcopal Church.

The vote was held at a convention attended by around 200 people, taking place at St. Philip’s Church in Charleston.

Two key issues had been the reported mistreatment of South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence by the national church leadership and increased theological differences between the mostly conservative diocese and the mostly progressive denomination.

One prominent point of contention was the Episcopal Church’s increased acceptance of same-sex romantic relationships, which Bishop Lawrence had been critical of in the past.

“This has never been about who is welcome or not welcome in our church,” stated Lawrence at the convention. “It’s about what we shall tell them when they come.”

The vote by diocesan leadership to disaffiliate was not officially recognized by the Episcopal Church, prompting several years of litigation over who rightfully owned the diocesan trademark and properties.

St. Peter’s Basilica officially completed – Nov. 18, 1626

St. Peter's Basilica
People line up to visit St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, April 24, 2014. | (Photo: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)

This week marks the anniversary of when St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the most famous church buildings in the world and a prominent part of the scenery of Rome, was officially completed. The building lies in the papal enclave, Vatican City. 

St. Peter’s replaced an older church constructed by Roman Emperor Constantine in the early fourth century on Vatican Hill, where the Apostle Peter is believed to be buried.

“The new basilica took 120 years to complete and all the great architects of the Roman Renaissance and Baroque were part of its design,” the website Roma Experience explains. 

“Many architects were consulted, however the main contributors to the creation of St Peters Basilica were Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donato, Giacomo della Porta and Maderno.”

Once completed, the basilica was consecrated by Pope Urban VIII.

George Whitefield gets married – Nov. 14, 1741

George Whitefield
Popular 18th-century evangelist George Whitefield, (1714-1770). | Public Domain

This week marks the anniversary of when 18th-century traveling evangelist George Whitefield married a widow named Elizabeth James at a ceremony in Wales.

Whitefield married Elizabeth not long after meeting her in person, having only briefly corresponded with her before meeting. Previously, James had been close to preacher Howell Harris, an acquaintance of Whitefield.

“Harris had the same doubts that Whitefield had. How could he marry a woman and not be deflected from his devotion to and work for Christ? So he resolved to ‘hand her over to brother Whit,’” noted Banner of Truth.

“Elizabeth raised objections, but over a few days was persuaded that she should marry Whitefield, and having travelled around looking for a sympathetic clergyman to marry them, they wed at Capel Martin, Caerphilly.”

James had had a daughter from her previous marriage and gave birth to Whitefield’s son John about two years later in London. Tragically, the child died in infancy months later. 

Source: ChristianPost.Com By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter

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