Good News Tucson Magazine's Blog

The Premiere Christian Magazine for Southern Arizona

Tucson’s Rich Christian History

Tucson has a long and rich Christian history.  Within just a few generations, the majority of our citizens have turned away from our Christian heritage and the Biblical lessons of how life works to faddish concepts that contradict the timeless principles learned by earlier generations.  These fads are tolerated at first, then embraced by a significant part of society and then in many cases, championed by people who don’t understand that the very ideas they are promoting often cause many of the pathologies of our city.  Each issue of Good News will flashback to a specific time in our history and try to understand how our spiritual heritage impacts us today.

Before the cavalry set up a fort in Tucson, Father Kino arrived in Sonora in 1687 to work with the Pima, and quickly established the first Catholic church. Kino traveled across Northern Mexico into California and Arizona. Roads were built to connect previously inaccessible areas. His many expeditions on horseback covered over 50,000 square miles, during which he mapped an area 200 miles long and 250 miles wide and deduced that Lower California was a peninsula attached to the North American continent.

In addition to his pastoral activities as a missionary, Eusebio Kino also practiced other crafts and was an expert astronomer, mathematician and cartographer. He drew the first accurate maps of Pimería Alta, the Gulf of California,and Baja California. A fervent believer in the idea that Indians needed better ways of living, Kino was important in the economic growth of Sonora at the time, teaching the Indians the basics of farming and bringing them farm animals and seeds. Indeed his initial herd of 20 imported cattle in Pimería Alta grew during his time there to 70,000, establishing him, according to Arizona State University Professor Peter Horwath, as the “First Cowboy.”

Another fact that is widely known about Kino is that he fought hard for the Sonoran Indians, opposing the hard labor in silver mines that the Spaniards had imposed on them.  In 1965, a statue of Father Kino was donated to the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall collection, one of two statues representing Arizona.

Why is this important?

We have a running debate in our culture concerning just how much of an influence Christianity has had on our nation and more specifically – our city.  For most of our city’s history, the virtues of Christianity have been the foundation of our morality and ethic.  In a city that trumpets diversity and tolerance, it is remarkable that targeting Christian speech and symbols seems acceptable. Unlike Phoenix, Tucson was built on the belief that sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ was important and living by the principles of Christianity were important to the improvement and long-term sustainability of our culture.

We also see one of the earliest examples of how Christians should engage the problems and address the justices of the society in which we live.

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February 22, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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