Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010 from Jerusalem . . . 1825 New Year's Day with James Brainerd Taylor . . . "That [God] is on the throne is enough for me"

appy New Year 2010 from Uncommon Christian Ministries in Jerusalem, the Eternal City and Capital of Israel.

It has been a divinely blessed and amazing 7.5 months (arrived May 8, 2009) of living, volunteering, ministering, site-seeing and worshiping in various Jewish/Israeli and Arab/Palestinian churches in Jerusalem and throughout The Holy Land. Alas, I will soon provide a summary of my many activities; the list is long and thus the reason for the delay. See past blog entries to read about some of my activities so far. Another 6-19 months remain of my time here.

Above is a picture of my volunteer workplace (reception/front desk) at Christ Church Guest House, located just inside Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. The adjacent Christ Church (Anglican, built 1849) is the oldest Protestant Church in the Middle East. I attended the Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve services at Christ Church.

Below is an 1825 New Year's Day journal/diary entry of the "uncommon Christian" James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829, cousin of the famed American missionary to the Native Americans, David Brainerd [1718-1747]). At the time, Taylor was a second-year student at Princeton University. It was Taylor's habit to recognize the beginning of a new year by writing in his journal/diary and writing a letter to his family. Of the January 1, 1825 entry, the compilers of the Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor wrote,

As Mr. Taylor closed the former year, so, with the spirit of genuine piety, he began the new year with God. Perhaps no man more strictly complied with the injunction, "In all thy ways acknowledge him;" and none seemed more confidently to expect the fulfillment of the promise, "He shall direct thy paths" [Proverbs 3:5-6]. The commencement of his diary for this year is an interesting and instructive exhibition of his obedience and faith in this respect.
May the entry prove encouraging as we say goodbye to 2009 and hello to 2010. Like J. B. Taylor, may we--by God's grace--desire and strive to be uncommon Christians, namely, and according to Taylor, eminently holy, self-denying, cross-bearing, Bible, everyday Christians.

January 1, 1825
Princeton University
New Jersey, USA

That another year has rolled away is to me no matter of regret. In time, and beyond time, it will be remembered as a season of distinguishing mercy. Thanks to the good Shepherd [the Lord Jesus Christ, John 10:11; etc.] for "the green pastures" [Psalm 23:2] of the past year; to my heavenly Father, for his smiles; my Comforter [the Holy Spirit], for his presence.

What will occur this year is hid from mortal man. But O, it is in the mind of the omniscient [all-knowing] God. And this God is my God [John 20:28], to whom I am willing to refer all, both for myself and others. That he is on the throne is enough for me [Hebrews 12:2; Rev. 4:2; etc.]. And his glory he will not give to another [Isaiah 42:8, 48:11].

Direct me, O Lord, in the right way. Lead me in a plain path all paved with love—the path that leadeth upward, and reacheth the land of rest—the way of holiness—the King's highway [Isaiah 35:8; etc.].

I believe there are richer blessings in store for me; if not on earth, in heaven. And the Lord's will being done, it is not a matter of much concern to me whether on earth or in heaven. But should my life be spared this year also, may my soul sink—and sink— and sink into God, day by day. Then I shall grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus [2 Peter 3:18]—deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Christ [Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34]—live to God [Galatians 2:19]—be a light in the world [Matthew 5:14]—salt of the earth [Matthew 5:13]—wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove [Matthew 10:16]—spiritual, and not carnal [1 Corinthians 3:1].

O that the lives of my relatives who are not yet for God, might be spared, to repent this year, and come to Christ; that my friends, who love the Lord, may honor him more, by bringing forth much fruit [John 15:16]. May this year be a favored season for Zion.

Lord, increase piety in the watchmen. Make the under-shepherds careful of the flock. May the flock be purified. Let souls be joined to the Lord in thousands. Prepare candidates for the holy ministry for their office. Make all that come after more holy and self-denying than those who have gone before.

Prepare me eminently to win souls to Christ [Proverbs 11:30], and build up the church [Ephesians 4:12]. This is all I ask in this world in regard to my relation to sinners. For thee would I labor; for thee, O Christ, would I die, rather than be a hinderance to thy cause. But here I am; do with me as seemeth good in thy sight. Thy will be done.
Taken from:
John Holt Rice and Benjamin Holt Rice, Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor, Second Edition (New York: American Tract Society, 1833), 258-60.

Memoir viewable online and at no cost via Google Books. Click here to read. Also, click here to read the memoir's sequel/companion volume A New Tribute to the Memory of James Brainerd Taylor (1838) by Fitch W. Taylor.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Archaeological sifting project . . . Temple Mount in Jerusalem

"You will arise and have mercy on Zion;
for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come.
For Your servants take pleasure in her stones and show favor to her dust."
On December 8, 2009, I volunteered for the unique and historically significant Temple Mount Sifting Project (or Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation).

Located in Tzurim Valley National Park near the Mount of Olives and Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, the project consisted of sifting through part of the 300 truckloads (600 tons) of topsoil that was illegally removed (1996-99) from the southeast corner ("Solomon's Stables") of the Muslim-occupied Temple Mount in Jerusalem's historic Old City.

Bones, glass shards, metals, mosaic stones, pottery and worked stones were the six main items that project participants were looking for. (See the picture above for some of my and my German friend's discoveries.) Unfortunately but understandably, rarer fines such as coins, seals and jewelry were not found by us.

The discoveries found that day "are unique because they are part of the first archaeological project that has ever examined artifacts from the Temple Mount. Therefore, every find is very important and exceptional. Even the smallest piece of pottery that [is found] can be dated to a certain period of history which, when processed statistically, will help [the expert archaeologists and historians] understand the amount and types of activities that took place on the Temple Mount throughout history."

According to the project organizers, and thanks to past volunteers numbering over 40,000, "Among the clods of earth some very exciting findings have been discovered, including a bulla on which there is the impression of the seal of a kohen (priest) from First Temple times (Solomon's Temple) [960 - 586 B.C.], fragments of stones decorated with magnificent frames from the Second Temple (Herod's Temple) Period [516 B.C. - 70 A.D.], arrowheads from various periods, hundreds of coins including 'Herut Tzion' (Free Zion) coins from the days of the Great Revolt against the Romans and much more."

Biblical archaeologists Drs. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Zweig, Ir David (City of David) Foundation, Israel Nature and National Parks Authority and private donors note that the "project is not a task for a small clique of archaeologists, but rather a responsibility, duty and privilege of the entire Jewish people and those who support them [including many Christian archaeological students and tourists]. Therefore, this undertaking cannot be a brief operation over within a few months, but a meaningful and sustained project lasting many years." Since the major project began in 2004, only 1/3 of the illegally removed Temple Mount topsoil has been sifted.

For more information and/or to volunteer for the Temple Mount Sifting Project (or Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation) while visiting or living in Jerusalem, click here (Wikipedia) and here (blog) and here and here (City of David National Park web site). Included on the TMSP's blog is the history of the project, recent updates, related articles and selected media reports.

NOTE: The Winter 2009 issue (Vol. 22, No. 1) of Bible and Spade is devoted to the TMSP. Click here or here for the PDF version of the issue. Bible and Spade is a non-technical quarterly publication of the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Planting terebinth trees in Israel . . . Jewish National Fund + Karen Kayemeth LeIsrael (JNF-KKL) . . . Stephanie B. Freedman (Sara Mizrahi), Marblehead, Mass. + Jerusalem

"And when you shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food . . . ." Leviticus 19:23
On November 9, 2009, three trees were planted in the 7,000-dunam Aminadav Forest in the Judean Hills near Jerusalem. (One dunam is equivalent to 1/4 of an acre or 1/10 of a hectare.) The trees were terebinth trees (pistacia palaestina), a member of the pistacia family.

The terebinth is mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures (or Old Testament), where the Hebrew word "elah" (plural "elim") is used, although the word is sometimes translated as "oak." The most well-known clear reference to a terebinth (elah) in the Hebrew Scriptures is that of the Valley of Elah or "Valley of the Terebinth" (עמק האלה), where David fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17:2, 19). (I visited the Valley of Elah last month.)

Being an American citizen, the newly planted trees are fittingly near the Kennedy Memorial (Yad Kennedy, built 1966). The monument depicts a felled tree trunk symbolizing the 41-year-old U.S. President John F. Kennedy whose life was prematurely cut off (November 22, 1963). The surrounding Aminadav Forest--formed with the help of German Jewry--is "the largest and most impressive open, green space available to Jerusalem residents."

It was nice to see the 3-fold ethnic partnership take place in the planting of the trees. The trees were purchased from a Jewish Israeli JNF-KKL worker (Eli) and planted by an American (me) with the help of an Arab Israeli JNF-KKL worker (see photo above).

The planting of the trees was through the Jewish National Fund (JNF)/Karen Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL). Over the past 108 years, JNF-KKL has "evolved into a global environmental leader by planting 240 million trees, building over 200 reservoirs and dams, developing over 250,000 acres of land, creating more than 1,000 parks, providing the infrastructure for over 1,000 communities, bringing life to the Negev Desert and educating students around the world about Israel and the environment."

If visiting Israel and want to plant a tree with your own hands in Jerusalem's Judean Hills, click here (see the left tab menu "Touring In Israel?"). If not visiting Israel but want JNF-KKL to plant a tree to recognize or memorialize friends, family and loved ones, click here.

Why three trees? . . . Stephanie B. Freedman (Sara Mizrahi)

Spiritually, I planted three trees in honor of God the Father, God the Son (the Lord Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit (the Holy Trinity) for His saving and sustaining grace in my life.

On a human level, the three trees are in honor of the estimated 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust (Shoah), and of Stephanie B. Freedman (now Sara Mizrahi) a young lady friend from Marblehead, Massachusetts whom I met while working at Many Glacier Hotel in Montana's Glacier National Park during the summer of 1991.

Stephanie played a major part in my decision to leave the east coast and West Hartford, Connecticut for the Great American West (Texas's Big Bend National Park, then Washington State's Olympic National Park) in 1991-92. Being Jewish and having had worked on a Reformed Jewish kibbutz in southern Israel's Negev desert prior to our meeting, she also increased my desire to one day visit Israel.

After we met in Montana, we kept in contact during the fall/winter/spring/summer of 1991-92. She was in Arad, Israel, volunteering with Sherut La'am (the Jewish Agency's educational-volunteer 6-month program) and I was working at Big Bend National Park. We eventually discontinued contact with each other by 1995 as our lives took different spiritual-theological and geographic directions. At the time (1995), she was a student at Jerusalem's Hebrew Union College and I a student at Canada's Prairie College.

Happily married now to an Israeli and with children, the Tufts University graduate (Stephanie) Sara Mizrahi now lives in Jerusalem.

Planter's Prayer

On a final note, and though not an environmentalist/earth worshiper nor a big proponent of formal/written prayers, here nonetheless is the "Planter's Prayer" as provided by JNF-KKL:
Heavenly Father, Thou who buildest Zion and Jerusalem, take pleasure in Thy land and bestow upon it of Thy goodness and Thy grace.

Give dew for a blessing and cause beneficent rains to fall in their season, to satiate the mountains of Israel and her valleys, and to water thereon every plant and tree, and these saplings which we plant before Thee this day.

Make deep their roots and wide their crown, that they may blossom forth in grace amongst all the trees in Israel, for good and for beauty.

And strengthen the hands of all our brethren, who toil to revive the sacred soil and make fruitful its wastes. Bless, O Lord, their might, and may the work of their hands find favor before Thee.

Look down from Thy holy habitation from heaven, and bless this land that it may flow again with milk and honey. Amen.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Know hope & spiritual awakening, 20th anniversary . . . . new creation in Christ, 17th anniversary

This October and November marks the 20th anniversary of my spiritual awakening to the truth/reality of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was during the fall of 1989 in West Hartford, Connecticut, that I first experienced the hope--in this life and in the life to come (eternity)--that exists solely in the resurrected Lord Jesus. Prior to that, I was "without hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).

The source of the hope that directed me to the Lord Jesus was The Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments). The Bible (New International Version [NIV]) was given to me as a gift by a friend. Some specific Bible verses that the Lord used to bring hope to my then-spiritually dark, sin-plagued and meaningless life included the following:

[15] Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. [17] The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17

The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid.
Psalm 27:1

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Matthew 28:20b (words of the Lord Jesus)

[14] We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. [15] I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. [16] And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. [17] As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. [18] I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. [19] For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. [20] Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Romans 7:14-20
It was a long 3 years (October 1989 to October 1992, ages 18-21) until I surrendered/gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ (= was "born again," John 3:3, 7) in a Lake Crescent Lodge employee dorm room near Port Angeles, Washington, in Olympic National Park. I had indeed became a "new creation" in Christ:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

For a full spiritual biography via Uncommon Christian Ministries' website, click here.

For an explanation of the Christian Gospel (literally "good news"), click here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

30th annual Christian-based Succot celebration in Jerusalem, Oct. 2-8 . . . 7th annual International Day of Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, Oct. 4

The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem

Sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (est. 1980)--and with assistance from Israel's Ministry of Tourism--October 2-8 is the 30th annual Feast of Tabernacles (Feast of Booths, Succot) celebration. This event has become the largest and most popular annual tourist-solidarity event in Israel, taking place at Jerusalem's International Convention Center (ICC) and other venues across The City of Peace/The Eternal City/City of Gold.

Some 5,000 Christians from over 100 countries will gather for 7 days of teaching, worship and practical service that is focused on Christians' support of Israel. Also, event registrants will participate in the annual Jerusalem March parade on Tuesday (Oct. 6).

Click here (ICEJ web site) and here (wikipedia entry) for more information about the celebration and the biblical/Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (Feast of Booths, Succot).

The theme for this year is the tabernacle of David:

On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old. Amos 9:11.

And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Zechariah 14:16.
Though not in full agreement with some of the theological and political aspects of the celebration, I nonetheless plan to attend the opening ceremony at the historic Dead Sea desert town of Ein Gedi on Friday (Oct. 2, dinner and outdoor Paul Wilbur concert), the International Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem on Sunday (Oct. 4, see below), Israeli night on Wednesday (Oct. 7) and the morning session and closing ceremony on Thursday (Oct. 8). Click here for the event's schedule.

A reminder that this Sunday (Oct. 4) is the 7th annual International Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem. This year, more than 200,000 churches in 175 nations will participate in the largest Jerusalem-focused prayer event in history.

The Jerusalem observance takes place in the city's International Convention Center from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Jerusalem time. The observance is being broadcast live on the international GOD-TV.

Observed the first Sunday of every October, IDPPJ "is a global grassroots prayer initiative coinciding with the season of Yom Kippur that, for the first time in Church history, links the Christian liturgical calendar with the biblical, Jewish calendar."

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may they prosper [be secure] who love you. Psalm 122:6.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

News sources for Israel's Christian friends . . . free daily email updates about news in Israel

For the latest news about what is happening in Israel, the Middle East and the global Jewish and Arab world from a Christian (Evangelical Protestant) perspective, the monthly magazines Israel Today and Jerusalem Post-Christian Edition are two good resources.

Some print edition articles can also be found on their online sites via here (Israel Today) and here (Jerusalem Post-Christian Edition).

According to their web site, Israel Today "is a Jerusalem-based news agency providing a biblical and objective perspective on local news. Founded in 1978, when it began publishing a monthly German news magazine, the English language edition of Israel Today was launched in January 1999 in order to meet a growing demand for news from Israel to the English-speaking market. The Japanese edition was launched in 2004, and a Dutch edition is currently in the works, as well. Israel Today maintains a diverse staff of local journalists who live in the Land and therefore report from firsthand experience, offering a mix of information, interviews, inspiration and daily life in Israel." The monthly magazine has subscribers in more than 80 countries.

The Jerusalem Post-Christian Edition (est. 2006) is published in full partnership with the International Christian Embasssy Jerusalem (ICEJ, est. 1980). It "is packed full of biblical insight, political analysis and unreported news from the Holy Land, making it a must read for all Christians who care about Israel."

Both Israel Today and ICEJ offer a free daily news update via email. Click here to subscribe to Israel Today's, and here to subscribe to ICEJ's.

For other news sources and information about Israel, see Uncommon Christian Ministries' recommended links.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Israel, Henry H. Halley (1874-1965) and "Halley's Bible Handbook" . . . 17 and 19.5 year desire being fulfilled

One of the reasons for my current and extended 2-year spiritual pilgrimage to and self-study sabbatical in Israel is due, in part, to my reading of Halley's Bible Handbook.

It was this handbook and its pictures of historical/archaeological sites in Israel that spurred my interest in visiting The Holy Land of Israel.

At the time of purchasing the 24th edition (1965) of the handbook in 1989 or 1990, I was 18- or 19-years-old and not yet a Christian. I purchased it soon after I began reading the Bible seriously in October 1989.

From October 1989 (West Hartford, Connecticut) to my conversion to Christ in October 1992 (Lake Crescent Lodge employee dorm room in Olympic National Park near Port Angeles, Washington), I was a self-student of the Bible. (For the full story of my conversion to Evangelical Protestant Christianity, click here.)

For 10 days in late December 2005/early January 2006, and now for 2 years from May 2009 to July 2011, my desire to see in-person the historical sites of the Bible in Israel is being fulfilled. "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4).

Zondervan, the current publisher of the handbook (25th edition), states,
Halley's Bible Handbook, the classic layperson's companion text, includes a concise Bible commentary, important discoveries in archaeology, related historical data, church history, maps, and more. . . .
Halley's Bible Handbook was born out of the conviction of Henry H. Halley that everyone ought to read the Bible daily.
From its first edition, a small give-away booklet of 16 pages, it has grown into an 864-page "almanac" of biblical information, used regularly by hundreds of thousands of laymen, teachers, and ministers. Halley's Bible Handbook contains more biblical information than any other book of its size.
It has been a continuous best-seller through the years and has sold more than five million copies in many languages.
Elsewhere, Zondervan writes,
Now in full color, the twenty-fifth edition of Halley’s Bible Handbook provides time-tested help for understanding the Bible—not just with the mind, but also with the heart. It includes a concise Bible commentary, important discoveries in archaeology, related historical data, church history, maps, and more.
Clear. Simple. Easy to read. Now in full color for its twenty-fifth edition, this world-renowned Bible handbook is treasured by generations of Bible readers for its clarity, insight, and usefulness.
Halley’s Bible Handbook makes the Bible’s wisdom and message accessible. You will develop an appreciation for the cultural, religious, and geographic settings in which the story of the Bible unfolds. You will see how its different themes fit together in a remarkable way. And you will see the heart of God and the person of Jesus Christ revealed from Genesis to Revelation.
Written for both mind and heart, this expanded edition of Halley’s Bible Handbook retains Dr. Halley’s highly personal style.
It features brilliant maps, photographs, and illustrations; contemporary four-color design; Bible references in the easy-to-read, bestselling New International Version; practical Bible reading programs; helpful tips for Bible study; fascinating archaeological information; easy-to-understand sections on how we got the Bible and on church history; and improved indexes.
For a biography on the Kentucky-born Protestant (Disciples of Christ) minister and author, Henry H. Halley (1874-1965), click here.

Halley's Bible Handbook, 25th Edition is available through its publisher (Zondervan), at Christian Book Distributors (CBD) or

It is worth noting that Dr. Halley developed a fondness for memorizing favorite passages of the Bible until he could recite from memory entire books from the Bible, in abridged, connected form and in their own words. Some have suggested that at any one time Dr. Halley could quote in excess of no less than 25 continuous hours worth of Scripture without looking at a reference. According to Dr. Halley, "The Bible is the most precious possession of the human race."

Elder D. J. Ward & Main Street Baptist Church (Lexington, Kentucky)

Interestingly, Dr. Halley is buried near where a favorite preacher of mine ministered.

Kentucky's historic Lexington Cemetery (est. 1849, 833 West Main St.) is just up the street from where the late Elder D. J. Ward pastored (1989-2008), namely, the historic Main Street Baptist Church (est. 1862, the first African-American Baptist church in Lexington, 582 West Main Street).

Up until 2009 (when it moved to New Home Missionary Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn.), Main Street Baptist Church was home to the annual Sovereign Grace Bible Conference. The conference was founded in 1983 by Elder Ward who was, at the time, pastoring in Oak Ridge, Tenn. I have attended this African-American conference twice, in 2003 and 2004 (and then again in 2013).

Click here for the location of Dr. Halley's burial site in Lexington, Kentucky.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"An Uncommon Christian" now available @ Reformation Heritage Books . . . Joel Beeke, Baruch Maoz and Israel . . . Is today's Judaism still Jewish?

Among other online options, An Uncommon Christian: James Brainerd Taylor, Forgotten Evangelist in America's Second Great Awakening (University Press of America, 2008) is now available through Reformation Heritage Books. Click here to view RHB's web page for An Uncommon Christian, and here to view other biographical Christian books offered by RHB.

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reformation Heritage Books was founded in 1994 with the purpose of distributing sound, Reformed, experiential literature, such as that which flourished in the Puritan Era (c. 1550-1700). RHB's mission "is to glorify God and strengthen His Church through the publication and distribution of Puritan and Reformed literature." To read RHB's insightful and edifying "Heritage Booktalk" blog, click here.

Other online buying options in the U.S., Canada and overseas for An Uncommon Christian--including and viewable at Uncommon Christian Ministries' website. This is also the same for the second recent book on Taylor (an edited anthology), Of Intense Brightness: The Spirituality of Uncommon Christian James Brainerd Taylor (University Press of America, 2008).


On a somewhat related note, and among other places worldwide, RHB's editorial director, Dr. Joel Beeke, has spoken at a conference sponsored by Grace and Truth Christian Congregation in Rishon LeZion (Rishon LeTsion), Israel. I have attended this Tel Aviv-area congregation several times since my arrival here in Israel on May 8, 2009. (As a pastor, church historian, Puritan scholar and author, Dr. Beeke was 1 of 22 international endorsers of An Uncommon Christian.)

Grace and Truth Christian Congregation was founded in 1976 by a group of Israeli Christians, including longtime pastor Baruch Maoz (1976-January 2009). Today it is largely made up of veteran Israelis and immigrants from the former USSR and other countries, with some non-Jewish persons and an Arab family. The Reformed (Calvinistic) Baptist church also serves expatriate students or workers from various parts of the world, and a growing deaf community. Grace and Truth is one of Israel's oldest churches and thereby has showed the way for other churches in the country. It has led a successful international campaign against efforts to restrict religious freedom in Israel.

Click here to read a good article about the church's history and challenges by the now-retired Pastor Baruch Maoz. And here to read Pastor Maoz's response to a review of his 400-page book Judaism Is Not Jewish: A Friendly Critique of the Messianic Movement (2003). Pastor Maoz's website, "Soli Deo Gloria (Israel): Creating Reformed Literature in Hebrew," can be found here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

John Calvin, 500th birthday + Calvinism and evangelist James Brainerd Taylor + thanks to John Reisinger and Dan Green

July 10, 2009, was the 500th anniversary of the birth of the influential French theologian and pastor, John Calvin. Conferences throughout the world are being held this year in honor of the Geneva, Switzerland-based Protestant reformer. Included among the conferences was a major, multi-day one at Geneva's St. Pierre Cathedral ("Calvin 500: A Quincentenary"). If I was not in Israel this year, I would have attended this July conference.

Also, many newspaper, magazine and journal articles and blog posts about Calvin and the resurgent Calvinistic theology in the U.S., Canada and abroad are being published and posted in 2009, including "Calvin's theology still shapes churches" (Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky., July 10, 2009).

In Time magazine's "What's Next 2009: 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now," "The New Calvinism" ranked third. A good resource regarding "The New Calvinism" is Colin Hansen's Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists (Crossway, 2008).

Though there is no evidence that James Brainerd Taylor read Calvin's popular Institutes of the Christian Religion or his other works, the American evangelist Taylor (1801-1829) was a Calvinist of the Jonathan Edwards variety. I argue this in chapter two my first book An Uncommon Christian: James Brainerd Taylor, Forgotten Evangelist in America's Second Great Awakening (University Press of America, Jan. 2008). Comments such as this reveal Taylor's Calvinistic theology:

Surely I am a miracle of grace--a sinner saved by grace, free grace, sovereign grace, almighty grace.

Regarding Calvin's impact upon my own life and theology, I thank the Reformed Baptist theologian-pastor-evangelist John G. Reisinger (Sound of Grace ministries) for introducing me to Calvinism's TULIP theology soon after my conversion to Christ in October 1992. It was in the Port Angeles, Washington home of my late friend and mentor Daniel "Danny" R. Green (1947-2006) that I viewed Reisinger's excellent and instructive videos on TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistable Grace, Perseverance of the Saints).

Other key theologians, pastors and authors--both dead and alive--whom the Lord has used to instruct me in the doctrinal truths of Calvinism/Sovereign Grace/The Doctrines of Grace have been the 16th and 17th-century Puritans, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), George Whitefield (1714-1770), Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), A. W. Pink (1886-1952), James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000), Elder D. J. Ward (died 2008, obituary), Richard Belcher, J. I. Packer, John Piper, R. C. Sproul and Mark Webb.

The Calvinism-based Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) and the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) have been especially instructive in teaching me that the "only true God" of the Bible (John 17:3) is a sovereign God who extends His free grace to undeserving sinners.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Israel Update: Part 1 . . . Uncommon new Israeli friends + learning Israeli culture + Israel study tours + praying for Jerusalem

All is safe and well since my arrival in Israel on May 8. After volunteering and touring in mostly northern Israel (Sea of Galilee, Golan Heights, Mediterranean coast) for a month, on June 8 I settled in at my 1-2 year volunteer position at Christ Church Guest House in Jerusalem's Old City.

My 3-weeks (May 10-28) of volunteering with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)-affiliated Sar-El was an experience of a lifetime. Started in 1982 and receiving over 4,000 volunteers per year, Sar-El is called Volunteers For Israel in the U.S./Canada/Europe. VFI's mission “is to connect Americans to Israel through volunteer service. They achieve this goal by partnering with military and civilian organizations that enable volunteers to work side-by-side with Israelis. They promote solidarity and good will among Israelis, American Jews and other friends of Israel.”

Above is a sampling of some newly made uncommon Israeli friends from Haifa, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Shomera and Tzfat (Safed). By meeting native Israelis and reading books such as Culture Smart's Israel: A Quick Guide to Customs & Culture (2007), I'm learning much about the Israeli culture, especially the youth and young adult culture.

Though English is spoken widely here, and with a background of studying Biblical Hebrew in seminary, I'm beginning to teach myself modern Hebrew. The revival of the Hebrew language as a mother tongue and spoken language was initiated by the efforts of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (אליעזר בן–יהודה) (1858-1922). Many major streets in Israel are named in honor of Ben-Yehuda, including one in downtown Jerusalem and not far from where I live and work.

A good option for those wanting to visit Israel is the Shoresh Study Tours. Begun in 1986 by Christ Church (the oldest Protestant church [Anglican] in the Middle East, built 1849), the 1-3 week Shoresh Study Tours provide in-depth teaching on the Jewish/Hebraic roots of the Christian faith while touring Israel. "Shoresh" means "root" in Hebrew.
--> NOTE: Christ Church, Christ Church Guest House and Shoresh Study Tours are all members of the Anglican-run CMJ (the Church's Ministry among the Jewish people), with chapters in Israel, U.S., U.K., Ireland and South Africa.

Join with me in praying regularly for the peace of Jerusalem. The annual and international Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem (est. 2002) is every first Sunday in October.

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!" (Psalm 122:6-7)

"As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore." (Psalm 125:2)

"Blessed be the LORD from Zion, he who dwells in Jerusalem! Praise the LORD!" (Psalm 135:21)

"If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!"
(Psalm 137:5-6)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

James Brainerd Taylor in the Sequim Gazette

"Author plans 10-book series on 19th-century evangelist" is the title of journalist Matthew Nash's article in the May 20, 2009 issue of the weekly Sequim Gazette (Sequim, Washington). Click here to read the online version of the article.

This local article is in addition to other local media coverage on the recently rediscoverd James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829) in the Peninsula Daily News and on "The Todd Ortloff Show" on KONP Newsradio (both based in Port Angeles, Washington). The two J. B. Taylor books (January 2008 and June 2008, University Press of America) have also received regional and national attention--see various blog posts below.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Uncommon Christianity in Israel? . . . farewell Port Angeles, Washington

Is there Uncommon Christianity in Israel? I'll soon find out as I leave for Israel tomorrow (Thursday, May 7, 2009) to participate in two volunteer endeavors. This is my second visit to The Holy Land, the first being for 10 days in late December 2005/early January 2006.

Click here for my contact information in Israel. And click here to see the recommended links for Israel on UCM's web site.

From May 10-28, I'll be volunteering with the Jewish-based Sar-El (est. 1982, called Volunteers For Israel [VFI] in the U.S.). VFI's mission “is to connect Americans to Israel through volunteer service. They achieve this goal by partnering with military and civilian organizations that enable volunteers to work side-by-side with Israelis. They promote solidarity and good will among Israelis, American Jews and other friends of Israel.”

Then, after a 10-day vacation to roam the land and beginning around June 8, I'll be volunteering for 1-2 years at Christ Church Guest House in Jerusalem's Old City. Completed in 1849, the Anglican-run Christ Church is the oldest Protestant Church in the Middle East. It was formed by The Church's Ministry among the Jews (CMJ, est. 1809), originally called the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews. "Started in London by visionaries such as William Wilberforce (1759-1833), Charles Simeon (1759-1836) and [later] Lord Shaftesbury to share the Gospel with Jewish people, CMJ now has a worldwide ministry to share with Jewish people our belief that not only is Jesus (Yeshua) the Saviour of the world, he is the Jewish Messiah. Today [their] main work is in Israel but [they] retain a vibrant ministry in the U.K." So states the CMJ-U.K. website.
--> NOTE: CMJ is celebrating its bicentennial with events throughout 2009 in the U.K., U.S. and Israel. For the celebrations in the U.K., click here. Kelvin Crombie's latest book entitled Restoring Israel: 200 Years of the CMJ Story (Nicolayson's Ltd., Christ Church Jersualem, 2008) is highly recommended.

Also while in Israel--and as time allows--I'll be participating in the cultural exchange and hospitality-based Servas International (est. 1949, originally called Peacebuilders). I'm one of the over 20,000 Servas members who come from over 125 countries. Servas Israel has more than 300 individuals, couples and families willing to host Servas members for free. Click here to view a map of Israel that shows the areas with Servas hosts.
--> NOTE: Servas International has consultative status as a non-governmental organization (NGO) with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, currently with representation at many of the UN's hubs of activity.

Among other options, the "uncommon Christian" James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829) considered ministry among the Jewish people in Palestine before his untimely death while a student at Yale Seminary in 1829. Taylor's reading of the Memoir of Levi Parsons (1824) no doubt inspired his interest.

Before settling down in Israel, a special THANKS to those in Port Angeles, Washington, who extended to me their kind farewell wishes and gifts during the weeks and days prior to my departure (today/May 6). Among other entities, it was sad to say goodbye to the Peninsula College Christian Student Fellowship. I served as the founding advisor for PCCSF, 2002-09.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book #3 complete (awaits interested publisher) . . . Western Seminary graduation . . . What are honors? What is earthly applause?

James Brainerd Taylor book #3 is complete. It awaits an interested publisher for hopeful publication in 2011 or 2012 (i.e., post-Israel trip). The desired title is God's Co-Worker: 21st-Century Evangelism with Uncommon Christian James Brainerd Taylor. The book will be a slight re-working of my recently completed Doctor of Ministry dissertation for Western Seminary entitled God's Co-Worker: 19th-Century "Uncommon Christian" James Brainerd Taylor as a Model for 21st-Century Evangelism.

In addition to a biographical sketch, bibliography and 6 appendices, this third study on the Princeton University and Yale Seminary-trained Taylor (1801-1829) examines his evangelistic motives and methods, what he believed were the qualifications for evangelists and his 5-fold "uncommon Christian" discipleship emphases to new converts, all with the aim towards 21st-century application. A very practical book that awaits an interested publisher.

For now, and for $15, I'm informed that the 231-page dissertation is downloadable as a digital e-doc through the Theological Research Exchange Network (TREN), order #002-0843. It is also available through the Portland, Oregon-based TREN on CD-ROM ($20), unbound paper ($34.65) and microfiche ($5). In addition, there is a possibility the dissertation is available via InterLibrary Loan (click here to view the WorldCat information).

The 82nd annual commencement ceremony for Western Seminary took place April 25, 2009 in Portland, Oregon. A special thanks to family and friends who attended the ceremony and the celebration banquet the night previous. Click here to view photos of the ceremony taken by my brother.

A highlight of the ceremony was the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree bestowed upon Herbert I. Elliot. A native of Portland, Dr. Elliot served for many decades as a medical missionary in Peru and elsewhere. He is the older brother of Jim Elliot (1927-1956), the deceased first husband of missionary, author and conference speaker Elisabeth Elliot (b. 1926) and the martyred missionary to the Waodani people (Auca Indians) of Ecuador.

In graduating from Western with high honors, I am reminded of these words by the Second Great Awakening evangelist James Brainerd Taylor. The words were penned on April 8, 1824 in the journal of the then 23-year-old Princeton University sophomore student.

"The time soon arrived for the dismissal of my class, at which time the standing of each student was made known. Having found my standing to be No. 1 [among his fellow students for Princeton's winter 1824 semester], I returned to my room, and once more looked to the Lord for his distinguishing love, with the strong feeling that earthly distinction cannot satisfy my heart's desire. Here, while I remembered the goodness of God during the past winter, in blessing me in soul and body, growth in grace, and success in my studies, the Sun of righteousness [Mal. 4:2] seemed to break through the cloud . . . . Recollecting the standing which had been given me by the faculty, I said to myself, 'What are honors? What is earthly applause?' Ah, these are not my God. I saw their emptiness, and not only desired, but longed for His presence in whom my soul takes delight. The Lord bowed down the heavens, and while I wrote 'vanity' upon all things beside His love, he let drop sweetness into my soul, and I was blessed with a blessing that 'maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow' [Proverbs 10:22]. 'Bless the Lord, O my soul' [Psalm 104:1]."

*From John Holt Rice and Benjamin Holt Rice, Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor, Second Edition (New York: American Tract Society, 1833), 206. Click here to read the original text via Google Book Search.

NOTE: Click here (page 3) to read the October 15, 2008 profile in Western Seminary's Doctor of Ministry newsletter entitled, "Francis Kyle: A Pastor-Evangelist, Author & Anticipated 2009 Graduate." And here to read "Alumni: Francis Kyle (D.Min., '09) Profile" on Western Seminary's alumni blog (July 1, 2009 blog post).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

James Brainerd Taylor on the radio . . . book presentations

The two recent James Brainerd Taylor books--An Uncommon Christian and Of Intense Brightness (University Press of America, 2008)--were the topic of discussion during a portion of the March 26 "Todd Ortloff Show" on the Port Angeles, Washington-based KONP News Radio. To listen to the 17-minute interview, click here and go to "Archived Programs--Todd Ortloff Show--3/26/09--Local Biographer." NOTE: the downloadable interview begins at 17:44 and ends at 38:02. Or contact UCM and request the free MP3 audio file.

Sponsored by Uncommon Christian Ministries, 2 upcoming book presenations and signings include the following:

Sunday, April 5, 2009
6:00 p.m.
First United Methodist Church, Port Angeles, Wash.

Wednseday, April 15, 2009
ASC Conference Room, Peninsula College, Port Angeles, Wash.

These two book presentations and signings are in addition to the 7 presentations or book-related sermons done already:

+ 3/7/09 -- Evangelical Theological Society, Northwestern Regional Annual Meeting, George Fox Evangelical Seminary, Portland, Ore.

+ 1/25/09 -- Quilcene Bible Church, Quilcene, Wash.

+ 11/20/08 -- Evangelical Theological Society, 60th Annual National Meeting, Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence, R.I.

+ 8/10/08 -- Lusk Alliance Church, Lusk, Wyo.

+ 7/6/08 -- Calvary Grace Church, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

+ 3/15/08 -- Evangelical Theological Society, Northwestern Regional Annual Meeting, Western Seminary, Portland, Ore.

NOTE: Today (March 29, 2009) marks the 180th anniversary of J. B. Taylor's death.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ed King and the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement . . . James Brainerd Taylor and slavery . . . James Brainerd Taylor Marsh and Fisk Jubilee Singers

Woolworth sit-in and Rev. Ed King (standing).
Jackson, Mississippi. May 28, 1963.
50th anniversary on May 28, 2013
Pictured to the left (standing, with the clerical collar) is the Rev. Ed King

Then a chaplain at the historic and all-black Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi. Rev. King is assisting students during the historic Woolworth sit-in on May 28, 1963, in Jackson. The sit-in was the most violent--racist white police towards black students and white sympathizers--of all the 1960's sit-ins, and the most publicized.

At my invitation, the now 72-year-old Rev. King was the featured speaker for the Peninsula College Christian Student Fellowship's fourth annual tribute to National African-American History Month, February 26 to March 1. I serve as the founding advisor for PCCSF (est. 2002), an official student club at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Clallam County, Washington. 

The college's Associated Student Council (student body government)-operated Sound of Unity and Magic of Cinema film series co-sponsored Rev. King's coming.

Click here to read the press release of Rev. King's visit that was printed in the Sequim Gazette. Special thanks to Riski Business Photographics in Port Angeles for the above March 1, 2009, photo of Rev. King and me.

Rev. Ed King and Dr. Francis Kyle.
Port Angeles, Washington. March 1, 2009.
This was Ed's second visit to Port Angeles.

Shortly after meeting him while on his 3-hour civil rights history tour in Jackson in late May 2005, I invited Ed to speak in Port Angeles on August 14, 2005. He was well received by the local community and media.

To listen to a 25-minute live radio interview with Ed and me on "The Todd Ortloff Show" (KONP News Radio, Port Angeles, Wash.), click here to request the free MP3 audio file. Or, contact KONP directly.

For a front page photo and story on Rev. King's Port Angeles visit in the April 2009 issue (Issue #22) of Channels, click here (online PDF screen version). Channels is the monthly newsletter of the United Methodist Church's Pacific Northwest Conference.

Additionally, click here (PDF print version, see page 6) to read an article in the March 18, 2009, issue (vol. 62, no. 12) of the Mississippi United Methodist Advocate.

Here is what others have said about the Rev. Ed King:

+ "Dr. (Martin Luther) King got the headlines, the awards and the adulation, but the Ed Kings did the daily dirty work so essential to the movement's many successes."
--> Davis Houck and David E. Dixon, eds., Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965 (Baylor University Press, 2006)

+ "Ed King risked everything, and lost much, for the civil rights movement. He has unique insights and an insider's perspective. He has paid his dues and more over many years. His life gives witness to the immense worth of speaking courageously and truthfully to ruthless power. Ed King is a hero, a worthy subject for a biographer."
--> An anonymous 1/19/07 comment to a 10/30/03 biographical article about Rev. King in the Jackson Free Press

+ "church reformer, theological prankster, pastor of his 'movement congregation' . . . renegade Methodist minister"
--> Charles Marsh, God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights (Princeton University Press, 1997)

Regarding the leaders of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, here is what Rev. King said during a February 27, 2002, lecture at the Bonhoeffer House, part of Charles Marsh's Theological Horizons: Christians Engaged In Ideas and Actions. King's talk was titled "Religion and the Civil Rights Movement" (click here for the lecture's full manuscript via the University of Virginia's Project on Lived Theology):
The leadership in the black civil rights movement I would say was disproportionately Methodist, certainly was heavily Protestant, and that is obvious. The very top leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. [1929-1968] may have been Baptist, and he had splits with the black Baptist denominations, but in most of the communities that I know about, the key people who were ready first were black Methodist women. And the Methodist church had a tradition in this country of social concerns, but a deeper tradition that a born again life was a life of citizenship [social responsibility] as well as a life of salvation. And you just didn't make those distinctions [between the eternal and temporal].

UPDATE - August 2012

Some lifetime achievement recognition
for Rev. Ed King, 2010-12

Rev. King was the 2011 Alumnus of the Year at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. The now 74-year-old King earned a B.A. in sociology in 1958. The summer 2011 issue (pages 55-57) of the Millsaps Magazine feature this honor for King.

In 2010, the Millsaps College Leader of Values and Ethics (LOVE) award was renamed in honor of King. The award "is bestowed on the student leader who best exemplifies principled leadership for a cause of deep moral consequences that may meet with opposition but proves over time to be true." On February 5, 2011, Millsap's Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority sponsored a "Living Legacies Ball" in honor of King to raise funds to endow the Rev. Ed King LOVE award.

Boston University's School of Theology honored King with their Alumnus of the Year award for 2010.

The longtime home church of Rev. King, Galloway United Methodist Church in Jackson, Miss., honored King at a special service on May 29, 2011.

National Civil Rights Museum.
Est. 1991. Memphis, Tennessee.
Under the category of Icon of the Civil Rights Movement, Rev. King was one of several distinguished recipients of the 2011 Freedom Awards given by the National Civil Rights MuseumOther recipients included basketball legend Bill Russell, former professional basketball player Alonzo Mourning and actor and activist Danny Glover. The November 12, 2011, ceremony was held in Memphis, Tennessee, and not far from the museum's location at the historic Lorraine Motel, the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The year 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the museum.

With actor Daniel T. Parker playing the Rev. Ed King, the world premier of the theatrical performance "All The Way" ran July 25 to November 3, 2012, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (est. 1935) in Ashland, Oregon. In the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Richard Schenkkan's vivid dramatization of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson's first year in office (1963-64), "means versus ends plays out on a broad stage canvas as politicians and civil rights leaders plot strategy and wage war." After its world premier in Oregon, the play most likely will appear in other major U.S. cities in 2013 and beyond. (UPDATE: Click here to read the New York Times review [September 25, 2013] of the showing of "All the Way" at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass.)
--> With family members, Ed King watched the play in-person on August 8, 2012. He also spoke with the man who played him, Daniel T. Parker, as well as all the other performers in the play. In a separate meeting in Seattle on August 13, Rev. King also spoke with the play's author Richard Schenkkan.

Dr. Francis Kyle and Rev. Ed King.
Camano Island, Washington. August 10, 2012.

YouTube video. 76 minutes. 

"A White Southerner in the Civil Rights Movement:
The Rev. Ed King Story"

Guest lecturer Rev. Ed King at the University of Virginia. 
For Prof. Charles Marsh's "Kingdom of God in America" class. 
October 24, 2013.

James Brainerd Taylor (1801-1829) . . . uncommon Christian and friend to African slaves

Writing on Sunday, July 12, 1823, the American James Brainerd Taylor wrote the following in his journal while a student at the Lawrenceville Academy (5 miles south of Princeton, N.J.),
Spoke to the colored people this p.m. "Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth her hands unto God" [Psalm 68:31]. How they are degraded and frowned upon by white people! My very soul pities their condition, both in this country and in Africa.
*Memoir of James Brainerd Taylor, 2nd ed. (NY: American Tract Society, 1833), page 150
An Uncommon Christian:
James Brainerd Taylor (1801-
1829) by Dr. Francis Kyle.
University Press of America. 2008.
In addition to his starting a Sunday school for Africans in Lawrenceville, N.J., Taylor also interacted with slaves during his time in New York City and during his travels in the Southern states of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

While a late teen in New York City, the "uncommon Christian" served as a teacher and assistant superintendent at one of America's earliest Sunday schools for African slaves. New York Sunday School Union No. 34 was founded by Taylor's older brother, Jeremiah H. Taylor. It met at St. George's Episcopal Church (now called Calvary-St. George's and located in Manhattan near Stuyvesant Square and Gramercy Park).

"It mattered nothing with Mr. Taylor what was the condition or the color of the saint," wrote the Memoir's Southern Presbyterian co-compilers, John Holt Rice and Benjamin Holt Rice. (Memoir, 438.)

James Brainerd Taylor Marsh (1839-1887) . . . abolitionist and manager of the 1870's Fisk Jubilee Singers

Relatedly, James Brainerd Taylor Marsh was a white abolitionist, successful newspaper editor, mayor of the Ohio town of Oberlin (1878-81), member of the Oberlin College Class of 1862, and manager of the famed Fisk Jubilee Singers, the 1870's international traveling group of the African-American Fisk University (est. 1866) in Nashville, Tenn.

"Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory."
J. B. T. Marsh helped to make the Fisk Jubilee Singers famous with his book The Story of the Jubilee Singers; with Their Songs (1881). Marsh wrote the book while traveling with the singers in Europe and elsewhere.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers still sing today.

"Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory" ("former slaves sing their way into the nation's heart") is a documentary film produced by America's Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 1999.

It was common in 19th-century America for Christians to name their child in honor of popular pastors, evangelists and missionaries. Like J. B. Taylor (Middle Haddam), so J. B. T. Marsh (New Milford) was also born in Connecticut. At the time in the mid-1800s, and via his two published memoirs (1833, 1838), J. B. Taylor was at the height of his fame in the U.S. and U.K.