Welcome to Concordia Historical Institute, Department of Archives and History for the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

Today in History

July 20

1539 John Calvin (15091564) arrived in Geneva, eventually making that city the center of the Reformed Church. William Farel (1489–1565) assisted him in the work. Geneva became a theocracy under Calvin’s guidance.

1796 Edward Hodges, religious composer, was born in Bristol, England (d. 1 September 1867, Clifton, Bristol, England).

1797 Gotthard Daniel Fritzsche was born in Liebenwerde, Germany (d. 26 October 1863).

1808 French Emperor Napoleon I (1769–1821) gave by decree (signed in the southwest French town Bayonne) the church center (church, cloister, apartments, etc.) “des Billettes” to the Paris Consistory of the French “Eglise de la Confession d’Augsbourg” (Church of the Augsburg Confession). That came about as the result of the insistence of some French Lutheran army generals on the Emperor’s staff who were then elected to the board of this congregation. Georg Stöckhardt (1842–1913) served as assistant pastor of this congregation in 1870. Since 1971 the congregation has belonged to the “Eglise Evangélique Luthérienne de France,” which is a member of the Lutheran World Federation.

1822 Gregor Mendel, Austrian monk and botanist, was born in Heinzendorf, Austria (modern Czechoslovakia) (d. 6 January 1884). During the early 1860s he discovered the basic laws of biological inheritance. His work explained the principles of natural selection but was ignored and almost forgotten before it was rediscovered by Dutch botanist Hugo M. DeVries in 1900.

1835 Samuel Dyer, composer, died in Hoboken, New Jersey (b. 4 November 1785, Wellshire, England).

1859 Richard Siegler, Wisconsin Synod mission executive, was born in Wolin, Pomerania (d. 6 November 1941).

1860 The Georgia Synod was organized.

1860 Adolf William Meyer, president of Saint Johns College (Winfield, Kansas) from 1895 to 1927, was born in New Zealand (d. 26 May 1937).

1884 Louis Carl John Rehfeldt was born in Garnavillo, Iowa (d. 11 April 1961, Porto Alegre Brazil). He was a graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary (Springfield, Illinois) in 1907 and served his entire ministry in Brazil. He was a professor of Concordia Seminary (Porto Alegre, Brazil) from 1918 to 1959, when he retired. He also served as treasurer of the Brazil District of the Missouri Synod from 1928 to 1960 and editor of Jovem Luterano. He was a cofounder of Casa Publicadora Concordia and founder of Mensageiro Luterano.

1886 Paul Tillich, German-American theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher, was born in Starzeddel, Prussia (d. 22 October 1965).

1896 Arthur C. Coxe, hymnist, died (b. 10 May 1818, Mendham, New Jersey).

1910 The Christian Endeavor Society of Missouri began a campaign to ban all motion pictures that depicted kissing between non-relatives.

1921 Concordia Theological Seminary, Hankow, China, was founded.

1933 Adolf Hitler concluded a Concordat with the Roman Catholic Church.

1949 John William Carl Janzow, president of the Lutheran Church of Australia, died (b. 7 March 1875, Lewiston, Minnesota).

1954 Frederick Emanuel Mayer, professor at Concordia Seminary (Saint Louis), died (b. 5 November 1892, New Wells, Missouri).

1962 Pope John XXIII (18811963) sent invitations to all “separated Christian Churches and Communities,” asking each to send delegate-observers to the upcoming Vatican II Ecumenical Council in Rome.