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Christianity / Church / Church History / Church History By Century

19th Century

Updated Oct 06, 2023
19th Century

These events represent some of the major developments in 19th-century Christian history, including religious revivals, the spread of Christian missions, the emergence of new Christian denominations, and the intersection of Christianity with social and political movements.

19th Century Christian History

  1. 1801: Cane Ridge Revival

    • The Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky, USA, was one of the largest camp meetings during the Second Great Awakening, a period of religious revival in America.
  2. 1804: Founding of the British and Foreign Bible Society

    • The British and Foreign Bible Society was established to promote the distribution of the Bible around the world, contributing to increased access to scripture.
  3. 1806: Founding of the American Bible Society

    • The American Bible Society was founded with a similar mission to distribute Bibles and promote Bible reading in the United States.
  4. 1815: Formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM)

    • The ABCFM was established to support and coordinate Protestant missionary activities abroad, particularly in Asia and Africa.
  5. 1816: Founding of the American Sunday School Union

    • The American Sunday School Union was established to promote religious education through Sunday schools across the United States.
  6. 1820: Joseph Smith's First Vision

    • Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism (Latter-day Saint movement), claimed to have had a divine vision in which God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him.
  7. 1830: Formation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church)

    • Joseph Smith officially organized the LDS Church in Fayette, New York.
  8. 1833: Founding of Oberlin College

    • Oberlin College in Ohio became a prominent center for Christian higher education and social reform, admitting both men and women and promoting abolitionism and women's rights.
  9. 1837-1838: Trail of Tears

    • Native American tribes, including the Cherokee Nation, were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands to reservations in the West, resulting in significant hardship and loss of life.
  10. 1844: Death of Joseph Smith

    • Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was killed in Carthage, Illinois, leading to schisms in the Latter-day Saint movement and the eventual formation of various Mormon denominations.
  11. 1848: Seneca Falls Convention

    • The Seneca Falls Convention in New York began the women's suffrage movement in the United States, with many early suffragists having strong ties to Christian and religious traditions.
  12. 1854: Founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

    • The Seventh-day Adventist Church was officially organized, emphasizing the observance of the Sabbath and a belief in the imminent Second Coming of Christ.
  13. 1861-1865: American Civil War

    • The American Civil War had deep religious dimensions, with both the Union and Confederacy invoking Christian faith to justify their causes.
  14. 1863: Emancipation Proclamation

    • President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the freedom of enslaved people in Confederate-held territories.
  15. 1869: First Vatican Council

    • The First Vatican Council defined the doctrine of papal infallibility, reaffirming the pope's authority in matters of faith and morals.
  16. 1870: Founding of the Salvation Army

    • The Salvation Army, a Christian denomination known for its charitable and social work, was founded by William and Catherine Booth in London.
  17. 1878: Social Gospel Movement

    • The Social Gospel Movement emerged, emphasizing the role of Christianity in addressing social and economic issues, particularly in urban areas.
  18. 1893: World's Parliament of Religions

    • The World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago brought together representatives of various world religions and contributed to interfaith dialogue and understanding.


The nineteenth century is sometimes called the Protestant Century. Protestants established missions throughout the world. Organizations such as the British and Foreign Bible Society, the American Bible Society, the Sunday School Union, and the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions lead in the spread of the Gospel message. Reform societies form to deal with abolition, temperance, prisons, and education.

• In America, many sects, including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Science, are established.

• New philosophies such as Darwin's evolution, Marx's communism, and Freud's psychology, attack the traditional Christian view of life and history. German "higher critics" attack the historical validity of the Scriptures.

• Revival leader Charles Finney establishes "new measures" in his revival meetings, believing conversions can be achieved if the right approaches and techniques are used.

• Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey hold large revival meetings on both sides of the Atlantic, while thousands hear Charles Spurgeon preach in London's Tabernacle.

• Fanny Crosby, Ira Sankey, Francis Havergal, and others poured out hymns of faith and devotion.

• David Livingstone and others open the African continent to missions, while workers with Hudson Taylor's China Inland Mission spread throughout China.

• Pope Pius IX condemns liberalism, socialism, and rationalism; also proclaims the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. The First Vatican Council declared the Pope infallible in the year 1870.

Photo: ©Getty Images/Tibrina Hobson/Stringer

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About Church History By Century

Read about {3} Church History and know the important Christian events of that century.