Christianity is a faith with a long and detailed history, with numerous events of lasting significance occurring throughout the ages.
Each week bring the anniversaries of great milestones, horrid tragedies, amazing triumphs, and everything in between.
Here are just a few things that happened this week, July 23-29, in Church history. They include the birth of the man who wrote "Amazing Grace," the Catholic Church's controversial position on birth control, and the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland.
John Newton Born - July 24, 1725
This week marks the anniversary of the birth of the man who wrote one of the most famous songs in the history of western civilization.
John Newton, author of the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born on July 24, 1725. The hymn was inspired by his own conversion to Christianity following his survival of a storm at sea.
"The soaring spiritual describing profound religious elation is estimated to be performed 10 million times annually and has appeared on over 11,000 albums," noted Biography.com in 2015.
"Between 1970 and 1972, Judy Collins' recording spent 67 weeks on the chart and peaked at number 5. Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Elvis are among the many artists to record the song."
Catholic Church Denounces Contraception – July 25, 1968
This week marks the anniversary of the Roman Catholic Church reaffirming its stance against the usage of artificial birth control methods, released a few years after the conclusion of Second Vatican Council.
In an encyclical published by Pope Paul VI on July 25, 1968 and titled Humanae Vitae (or "Of Human life") the Church denounced the usage of artificial birth control.
"We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children," read the encyclical in part.
"Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation — whether as an end or as a means."
Humanae Vitae continues to be a source of controversy, with the Catholic Church's position against birth control methods becoming a source of legal action between many of its organizations and the Obama Administration during the 2010s.
Church of Ireland Disestablished – July 26, 1869
This week marks the anniversary of when British Parliament passed a law disestablishing the Church of Ireland and in the process gave the English language one of its longest words.
On July 26, 1869, Parliament passed the "Irish Church Act," which called for the end of state support for the regional Anglican denomination the Church of Ireland.
"... it is expedient that the union created by Act of Parliament between the Churches of England and Ireland, as by law established, should be dissolved, and that the Church of Ireland, as so separated, should cease to be established by law," read the Act in part.
"On and after the first day of January one thousand eight hundred and seventy-one the said union created by Act of Parliament between the Churches of England and Ireland shall be dissolved, and the said Church of Ireland, herein-after referred to as 'the said Church,' shall cease to be established by law."
Some credit the debate over the Act with giving us the amusingly long word "antidisestablishmentarianism," which was the word used to describe those who opposed legislation meant to disestablish Anglican churches.