Executive editor’s note
Ken Curtis, CHI photo.
“We wanted the magazine to introduce lay people to church history, perhaps to become a resource for adult-education classes. Mostly, we wanted to create an appetite, a hunger for knowing the history of the church.”
That was the vision of our founder, Ken Curtis, for Christian History.
I, Michelle, first read these words three years ago when our managing editor, Jennifer, shared an article called: “The History Behind Christian History.” It appeared in issue #36 as an interview with Ken from 1992, published just after I was born (the bio notes, “He recently became a grandfather”).
In addition to his founding vision, my grandfather also recounts heart-warming anecdotes about how the magazine got off the ground, including some Phillies tickets that convinced a professional journalist to spend three days in town working around the clock to help meet the magazine deadline (as well as enjoying the game).
Ken Curtis, our dad (Bill) and grandfather (Michelle), loved Christian history. He so fervently desired to share the story of the church that he founded this magazine in 1982 in spite of many warnings of failure. He was not an expert in church history; his PhD was in media and communication. But he loved the church and had a passion for sharing the church’s story with all Christians.
Forty years later it is a joy and honor to see his passion project flourishing—teaching the story of the church to the people of the church. Though much seemed stacked against it, God’s grace has allowed us to continue for 144 issues of Christian History and counting.
With this special fortieth-anniversary issue, we are delighted to honor Ken’s memory and celebrate God’s faithfulness by overviewing the whole scope of Christian history in images. From the beginning, Ken wrote that the magazine should use “ample illustrations and graphics,” and we imagine him chuckling from heaven as we put a new spin on that intention.
Church history made him wise
In 1999 Ken gave a talk at Christian European Visual Media Association (CEVMA) on 17 things we learn from church history. As we read through that list all these years later (available on our website), we see how studying church history made him wise.
He wrote that church history teaches us to expect God to work over centuries, rather than to think we see God’s whole plan in an individual lifetime. He noted how church history confirms what Scripture makes clear: the last shall be first; God works through our weakness; and in the people and eras that seem vulnerable, humble, or weak, God is often at work in ways we don’t expect. He said that repentance for the sins of our Christian past is essential and yet we can be confident no objection or threat against the church can be raised that we haven’t faced before. As Jesus said—the gates of hell have not and will not prevail against the church.
We hope that this issue’s visual tour through two millennia of church history will instill in you what Ken wanted for all of us—pride, as well as humility and repentance, in our shared story. We hope that you will come away from this issue with trust in our God who has been faithful from one generation to the next, yet wary of presumption since we cannot see the whole of God’s big picture. We hope this issue will grow your appetite to learn and savor Christian history as your own family history and maybe even inspire you to share these stories and images with others.
Most of all we hope this issue will point you to the faithfulness of God who has sustained the church through each generation. CH
—Bill Curtis and Michelle Curtis
By Bill Curtis and Michelle Curtis
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #144 in 2022]
Managing editor’s note
Someone brought a cockroachJennifer Woodruff Tait
Things our readers often want to knowthe editors
Early church AD 1-500, Part 1
Early church AD 1-500, Part 2
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