Date:June 09, 2013

The Great Missionary Window

Great MissionaryThe Great Missionary Window

The Great Commission of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20) has given to the Church her inspiration and guidance through the ages. This window honors the missionary movement of the Christian Church, picturing three individuals who were motivated by God to proclaim in word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The figure at the top, with pith helmet and moustache, is the great missionary doctor Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965). Born in Alsace and educated at Strasbourg University, Schweitzer became a pastor in the Reformed Church in Strasbourg. His book, The Quest for the Historical Jesus (1906), is a classic work today in New Testament schol arship. A world renowned scholar, Schweitzer was also an accomplished musician and interpreter of Johann Sebastian Bach. His organ settings of Bach’s music are widely in use today. In 1913, Schweitzer gave up an established career to devote himself at Lambarene, Africa, to the care of the sick and to missionary activities. This would be the consuming passion of Schweitzer for the rest of his life. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his ministry to the poor and the infirm.The figure beneath him is John Wesley (1703 – 1791). Born an Anglican in Epworth, England, and educated at Oxford, Wesley came to Georgia with his brother Charles as a missionary in 1735. His efforts to preach were in many ways a failure, and so he returned to England in 1 737. Upon his return he was deeply influenced by the faith and fervor of the Moravians, and while reading Luther in his Aldersgate Street residence on May24, 1738, his heart “was strangely warmed,” and he had a conversion experience.

While he wished to spread his new- found enthusiasm within the Church of England, he was forced to preach outside the Church, and his leadership gave birth to the Methodist Movement. Traveling over 8,000 miles a year on horseback, Wesley preached and wrote hymns and letters, all”… to promote, as far as I am able vital practical religion and by the grace of God to beget, preserve and increase the life of God in men.”

The figure at the bottom is the Reverend Francis Makemie (born circa 1658). Makemie, educated in Scotland, came from Ireland in 1681 to preach the Gospel and to plant Presbyterian churches in the colonies from New York to the Carolinas. The first church founded by Makemie in 1683 was in Rehoboth, Maryland. Constantly in danger from Indians or robbers, Makemie bravely and patiently preached and brought Christian cheer to many lonely settlers. Makemie is considered to be the Father of American Presbyterianism, and organized the first American Presbytery in 1706, consisting of congregations in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. In a notable legal case in 1707, Makemie was arrested in New York “for preaching the Gospel without a local license.” Makemie was acquitted, setting an important legal precedent in the new land, helping ensure freedom of religion. At the top of the window is a rendering of the Log College, founded by the Reverend Gilbert Tennant in New Jersey. It was the precursor of what would become Princeton University. One of many institutions founded by Presbyterians, Princeton was originally established to train young men for the ministry. Presbyterians founded colleges, hospitals, orphanages and, later, homes for the aged in America. The aim of their missionary efforts has been not only personal salvation but also social transformation. From Calvin’s Geneva to the present day. Presbyterian and Reformed Churches have sought to build a more Christian society.