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Kansas timeline of faith

  • Published Sunday, April 17, 2011, at 12:08 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, June 8, 2011, at 11:08 a.m.

Prehistory — Native Americans practiced their own religions, often honoring sacred places, still evidenced today by an intaglio, a surface depression of a 160-foot-long serpent near Lyons; and Penokee Man, a 60-foot rock outline of a man in Graham County.

1541 — Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado came to Kansas in search of gold. One of the Catholic priests with him, Juan de Padilla, stayed behind to help spread Christianity and was killed by American Indians. He became what some consider the first Christian martyr in the New World.

1825 — Daniel Morgan Boone, son of the Western frontiersman Daniel Boone, brought the first Methodists to Kansas.

1841 — Several nuns of the Sacred Heart order, including 72-year-old Sister Philippine Duchesne, were sent to a Potawatomie settlement in Lynn County to teach children. The Indians soon called her "the woman who is always praying." In 1988, Sister Duchesne was canonized by Pope John Paul II for her efforts in working with the Indians.

1847 — The Catholics established the Osage Catholic Mission, now St. Paul. The handful of Jesuit missionaries soon spread Christianity across more than 100 mission stations in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

1854 — Kansas was officially declared a territory. Congregationalist, Methodist and Baptist abolitionists worked together to attempt to wrest land from pro-slavery forces.

1855 — Nearly 1,200 New Englanders, Congregationalists mostly, made the journey to Kansas territory, armed to fight for freedom. The abolitionist minister Henry Ward Beecher furnished these settlers with Sharps rifles, which ultimately became known as "Beecher's Bibles."

1874 — About 5,000 Mennonites settled in Kansas, forming communities at Goessel, Inman, Buhler and Moundridge.

1874-1884 — Volga Germans settled in Kansas, establishing Catholic communities in Rush and Ellis counties.

1875 — Between 1875 and 1925, thousands of Arab Christians left Syria and found homes and businesses in small towns across the nation's midsection — particularly in Wichita. Although relatively few in number, Lebanese families quickly established themselves as some of the city's leading entrepreneurs.

1882 — Beersheba, a Jewish community, was founded near Dodge City.

1887 — The town of Enterprise, near Abilene, developed the second Baha'i community in the Western Hemisphere.

1896 — Charles Sheldon preached a series of sermons to the Central Congregational Church in Topeka asking, "What Would Jesus Do?"

Sheldon wrote his sermons like episodic stories, each installment ending with a cliffhanger to entice folks to come back the next week.

The series was later published in the book "In His Steps," which has sold millions of copies.

1901 — Jan. 1: Topekan Agnes Ozman asked her minister, the Rev. Charles Fox Parham, to lay hands on her. He did, and she began speaking in tongues, sparking the Pentecostal movement.

Feb. 17: Carry Nation and 500 followers destroyed seven saloons and a cold-storage plant in Topeka.

1911 — Aug. 27: The Cathedral of the Plains, named by 19th-century politician William Jennings Bryan, was dedicated at Victoria.

1952 — June 5: Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to Abilene to launch his presidential campaign. As president, Eisenhower signed an act making "In God We Trust" the national motto and established the practice of opening Cabinet meetings with silent prayer.

During a Flag Day speech on June 14, 1954, he signed a bill authorizing the addition of the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

1976 — A handful of families bought a small house in Wichita and established the city's first Islamic Center. In 1996, the full-time Annoor Islamic School was founded, and in 2000, the Muslim Community Center was completed. About 5,000 Muslims now live in Wichita.

1979 — After the fall of Saigon, Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian refugees began flocking to Kansas, brought by churches and other sponsoring groups. With them came the eventual establishment of Eastern faiths, such as the Phap Hoa Temple in Wichita.

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