Today in Church History

January 25

Benjamin MorganPalmer

On January 25, 1818, Benjamin Morgan Palmer was born in Charleston, South Carolina.

After his education at the University of South Carolina and Columbia Seminary, Palmer pastored churches in Savannah and Columbia, before being called to the pulpit of First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans in 1856, a position he held for 45 years until his death in 1902.

In 1861, Palmer was the first moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America, and he served as a chaplain during the Civil War. After the war, he was a strong advocate for maintaining southern Presbyterian Old School distinctive commitments, especially the doctrine of the spirituality of the church. He lobbied against Presbyterian reunion with the north and against racial integration of the south during Reconstruction.

For all of his leadership the southern church and southern culture, Douglas Kelly notes that "Palmer's writings and statesmanship in church and state, as fruitful as they were, cannot compare in depth, breadth, and perpetuity of influence with his gospel preaching."

-John Muether

John C. Hills, Jr.

John C. Hills, Jr., one of the greatest orators of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, was born on January 25, 1916, in Trenton, New Jersey.

Educated at Hampden-Sydney College and Westminster Theological Seminary, Hills planted and pastored the Fort Lauderdale, Florida OPC for sixteen years before being called as pastor of the Franklin Square OPC on Long Island, New York, in 1957. As the semi-centennial volume, The Orthodox Presbyterian Church 1936-1986, records, Hills' "distinct preaching gifts wedded to a deep commitment to the exposition of the Reformed faith came to be outstanding marks" of his 22-year tenure in the Franklin Square church.

Hills passed away on October 22, 1979, after a lengthy illness. His grieving congregation read these words in the subsequent church bulletin: "It may truly be said of him, as was said of John Calvin, "Those who listened Sunday after Sunday, day after day, and did not shut their ears, but were instructed, admonished, exhorted and censured, received a training in Christianity such as had been given to few congregations since the days of the fathers."

- John Muether

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