CP Year in the Review: 2009

hat have come to define conservative Christians in the eyes of society.

In preparing for the worst, pro-lifers bolstered their efforts while many encouraged fellow believers to be prayerful for Obama, who has been trying to take the middle ground in many areas but has mostly appealed to the "Left" while upsetting the "Right."

As for the rest of the nation, a majority dubbed Obama as their personal hero with Jesus Christ coming in second.

Obama was also ranked recently as the living person most admired by Americans, garnering twice as many votes as the next closest contender – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

And, of course, there was Obama's shocking Nobel Peace Prize win, which generated a flurry of reactions across the nation and the world – from high praise and approval to criticism and disbelief.

According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Obama made substantial contributions toward peace in 2009 and had furthermore become the "world's leading spokesman" for "precisely" the attitudes and the international policy that the committee has sought to stimulate in the 108 years that the international award has been bestowed.

"Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play," the five-member committee stated in its announcement.

"The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened," it added.

The Nobel Committee said it had attached "special importance" to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

3. Abortion battle rages on; Pro-lifers pick up momentum

Abortion was still a major issue in 2009 as in years past, especially with Congress working to make health care coverage affordable for the over 30 million Americans who reportedly don't have it.

Conservatives campaigned strongly against the bill, which they said could lead to the largest expansion of abortion since the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

Right before Christmas, the Senate was able to pass its version of the bill without a single Republican on board. Unlike the House version, the Senate bill was approved without guarantee that abortions would not be federally funded. Having been passed, the bill must be reconciled with the House version before heading over to Obama to sign. Conservatives point out that most Americans are against federally funding abortions, as numerous polls have found.

Furthermore, for the first time in over a decade, more Americans say they are pro-life than pro-choice, according to 2009's annual Gallup poll on abortion.

Pew Research Center found similar results in 2009, noting that pro-choice Americans had clearly outnumbered pro-lifers 54 percent to 40 percent in 2007 and 2008, but that views of abortion are now about evenly divided, with 47 percent expressing support for legalized abortion and 44 percent expressing opposition.

Groups that had once clearly prary compiled a number of End Times resources including a message delivered by internationally renowned evangelist Billy Graham in 1998, a 2008 message from BGEA president and CEO Franklin Graham, an article adapted from a message delivered by Anne Graham Lotz in 1996, an End Times article on the basics of the Second Coming, and a couple of Q&As with Billy Graham that includes a question on whether the world will end in 2009.

"The most important question, however, is this: Are you ready for Christ's return?" Graham wrote after offering his response.

The End Times emphasis was made just a few months after Graham celebrated his 90th birthday and ahead of the 100th birthday celebration of George Beverly Shea, who for decades was the musical mainstay at Graham's evangelistic crusades. It also was made one year before the ministry was to mark its 60th anniversary.

9. Evangelical youth add social justice to moral conservatism

It shouldn't be surprising, but after years of the media casting Christians as anti-gay, evangelical youth have been shifting their attention - or at least adding to it. While still believing homosexual acts to be sin and abortion equivalent to murder, the rising generation of evangelicals have been devoting more time, effort, and attention to social justice – an issue largely associated with the "Left" though most evangelicals acknowledge God's command to love their neighbors, defend widows and orphans, and help the poor.

"We are seeing a head-snapping generational change," contended Michael Gerson, senior research fellow in the Center on Faith & International Affairs at the Institute for Global Engagement.

"Evangelical social engagement is becoming broader, but this is not an innovation but a revival. Not a fresh track in the snow, but a rugged path of history," he added, noting that the new generation of evangelicals is simply returning to the movement's past tradition and adding social justice to moral conservatism.

At Urbana 09, organizers put stronger emphasis on social justice as the triennial conference focused on four pressing global issues currently faced by those active in missions around the world – the movement of peoples, money in terms of missions funding, environmental stewardship, and divisions between peoples.

As "one of the longest-running institutions of North American evangelicalism," the Urbana student missions conference has had a large impact on North American mission.

The conference last year convened some 17,000 youth.

10. Reformed Christians celebrate Calvin quincentenary

The 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth somewhat overshadowed another's – that of 16th century Protestant reformer John Calvin. Still, Calvin's 500th anniversary celebrations drew a much higher level of interest from the general public than expected, according to organizers of the Calvin09 project, which served as an umbrella group for numerous local and national initiatives and to promote the meaning and significance of the anniversary.

From early in the year 2009, Christians across the globe celebrated the quincentenary of Calvin's birth, with thousands participating in festivals, services, lectures, exhibitions and concerts in remembrance of the French theologian who has had muct causes of global climate change and its degree of devastation, a number of prominent religious leaders and faith-based groups attended the United Nations summit on climate change with the aim to persuade global leaders to support cuts in carbon emissions.

The climate summit in Copenhagen drew participants from 192 countries representing governments, the business community, and civil society.

5. Rick Warren draws national spotlight

Though his best-selling 2002 novel The Purpose Driven Life became one of the most purchased books in printing history a few years ago, Rick Warren was still only known to about 1 in 2 Americans at the beginning of the year. That likely changed, however, after Warren was tapped to give the invocation prayer at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. Warren became an even larger magnet for the press – a development that gave the Southern California megachurch pastor as much controversy as it did publicity. Even his appeal two days before the end of 2009 to his church members for end-of-the-year donations made headlines, though Warren suggested that it wouldn't have if the secular press wasn't, as they "typically" are, "clueless about how churches actually work." The press also looked to Warren to weigh in on California's Proposition 8, which voters passed last year to define marriage as the union of a man and woman, and also Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill, which drew protests internationally, including from evangelical Christians in America.

Despite the media storms and the criticisms he received from both the left and the right (for different reasons), Warren still was able to concentrate on writing his follow-up to The Purpose Driven Life, which is set to release Easter 2010 - the 30th anniversary of his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.

An unauthorized biography on Warren, meanwhile, was released, highlighting in a much more vulnerable light the life of the affable yet confident megachurch pastor who calls presidents and billionaires his friends.

Also in 2009, Time magazine named Warren one of 2009's World's 100 Most Influential People.

In 2005, Warren was listed among Time's 25 Most Influential Evangelicals.

6. Famed leaders move on; New leaders step up

Speaking of rising Christian leaders, a number of groups saw new leadership take the helms, including Oral Roberts University, which tapped Dr. Mark Rutland as its new president; the World Council of Churches, which elected the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit to succeed its current general secretary; and Crystal Cathedral, the church founded by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, which tapped Tullian Tchividjian to serve as senior pastor after having gone months without one.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, meanwhile, resigned as chairman of his organization, charismatic televangelist Pat Roberts announced his plans to retire as president of Regent University, and Heaven welcomed a number of influential figures, including missiologist Ralph D. Winter, "seed faith" leader Oral Roberts, and megachurch Pastor Billy Joe Daugherty, whose network of Bible schools spans across 911 campuses in 93 countries.

Stepping back into the picture, meanwhile, were former megachurch Pastor Ted Haggard, whose return to the public eye was welcomed by sont's past tradition and adding social justice to moral conservatism.

At Urbana 09, organizers put stronger emphasis on social justice as the triennial conference focused on four pressing global issues currently faced by those active in missions around the world – the movement of peoples, money in terms of missions funding, environmental stewardship, and divisions between peoples.

As "one of the longest-running institutions of North American evangelicalism," the Urbana student missions conference has had a large impact on North American mission.

The conference last year convened some 17,000 youth.

10. Reformed Christians celebrate Calvin quincentenary

The 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth somewhat overshadowed another's – that of 16th century Protestant reformer John Calvin. Still, Calvin's 500th anniversary celebrations drew a much higher level of interest from the general public than expected, according to organizers of the Calvin09 project, which served as an umbrella group for numerous local and national initiatives and to promote the meaning and significance of the anniversary.

From early in the year 2009, Christians across the globe celebrated the quincentenary of Calvin's birth, with thousands participating in festivals, services, lectures, exhibitions and concerts in remembrance of the French theologian who has had a profound influence over entire religious movements.

Born on July 10, 1509, John Calvin is credited for his profound influence over major religious figures and entire religious movements. His ideas have also been cited as contributing to the rise of capitalism, individualism, and representative democracy in the West.

Though controversy around Calvin persists today – mainly over some of his teachings such as predestination and election – many Christians agree that his commitment to interpreting Scripture and his absolute submission to God are reasons enough for celebration.

Calvin, keenly aware of his shortcomings, was solely devoted to demonstrating the sovereignty and glory of God. He rarely included himself in his writings and even in death he avoided turning attention to himself. His wish was to be buried without memorial and in an unmarked grave. To this day, the exact location of his grave is unknown.

"Calvin's greatness was not in his service to himself but in his surrender to God," says Burk Parsons, author of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.

Since Calvin's death in 1564, Presbyterian and other Reformed churches that look to Calvin as a chief expositor of their beliefs have spread throughout the world.

Today, there are almost 100 million Reformed Christians in the world – two-thirds of which live in the Global South.