Hallelujah! 19th Century Preachers and Revivals by Shirleen Davies

We are so pleased to welcome guest author Shirleen Davies to the Junction! Today Shirleen is giving away a copy of her latest book to one lucky person! Please join us in welcoming her!

In the 19th century, Methodists, Baptists, and other revivalists offered grassroots, non-traditional Christianity to settlers across the frontier. The sermons which were impassioned and spoken from the heart appealed to these frontier settlers.

Who were some of the more well-known preachers?

Barton Warren Stone believed in bible based teaching. His rallying cry was “The Bible only” when he headed west and served two Presbyterian parishes in Concord and Cane Ridge Kentucky. Other Presbyterian ministers criticized him for his unorthodox views, chiefly his denial of the Trinity, which he said was not found in the bible. In 1830 Stone met Alexander Campbell, another Bible only Presbyterian-turned-independent preacher. Their friendship and common passion led to a merger in 1832. Stone’s legacy endures in the large number of churches called “Disciples of Christ” or “Church of Christ,” which are committed to “Bible only” Christianity.

 

Peter Cartwright, one of the most colorful frontier ministers, joined the Methodist Episcopal Church at 16 at a camp meeting. Within two years, he was traveling the backwoods of the new nation, preaching the gospel. Crowds flocked to hear him throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, and Illinois. His meetings often ran day and night. The passion in his booming voice could make women weep and strong men tremble. Cartwright once warned General Jackson, who was later President of the United States, that he would be damned to Hell as quickly as any other man if he didn’t repent. Cartwright championed the creation of Methodist colleges to train more ministers. His autobiography became a classic as much for his good deeds as for the picture it painted of frontier life.

Lucy Wright, a woman, and a Shaker, was another popular religious figure. After joining the Shaker sect with her husband, they had to dissolve their marriage due to the denomination’s strict adherence to celibacy. Lucy then went back to using her maiden name. By the late 1780s, the Shakers divided into male and female orders due to their belief in God as Father-Mother. In 1787, Lucy was appointed as the leader in the female line. Nine years later, Joseph Meacham, the second successor to founder Mother Ann, by-passed his male assistant and appointed Lucy as Elder. At Meacham’s death, she took the Shaker helm as Mother Lucy. She broke a 12-year hiatus of Shaker evangelism and sent missionaries to the western frontier in 1804. Mother Lucy also brought singing back to the Shakers and added dancing, hand motions, and worship marches.

Francis Asbury was known as Mr. Circuit Rider. He rode horseback, or in a carriage when he was sick, about 300,000 miles during his 45-year ministry, delivering 16,500 sermons. He created districts of churches, each served by preachers who traveled from church to church. Asbury drove missionary expansion into Tennessee and Kentucky despite the constant threats of illness and Indian attacks on the frontier. Asbury founded five schools and promoted Sunday schools to teach children reading, writing, and arithmetic. He hated slavery and even petitioned George Washington to enact antislavery legislation. The Methodist church expanded to 200,000 strong under Francis Asbury’s leadership.

Revivals

On the new frontier, church revivals took the form of camp meetings. James McGready initiated the camp meetings movement around 1800 in Kentucky.

Camp meetings soon became a colorful part of pioneer life. Families for miles around attended. The camp meetings usually began on Thursdays and ended on Sundays, but some lasted for up to two weeks. Several worship services were held daily, leading up to the big evening service. Often preachers from several denominations were on hand.

The religious message was clear and simple—stop sinning and repent now to save yourself from hellfire and damnation!

 My newest release, Bay’s Desire, book nine in my MacLarens of Boundary Mountain series, is now available. I’m pleased to give away an eBook to today’s blog post lucky contest winner.

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Guest Blogger

17 Comments

  1. Good morning and welcome to P & P. I loved your blog. Very informative. I listen to a radio station that has a different pastor every 30 minutes and it’s amazing what I receive from each sermon. It’s amazing the different church’s We have and they different sermons given. All preach the Cross and Jesus and it truly is Inspiring. Thanks for coming and may God bless you & everyone.

  2. I loved the post. Interesting what a voice can do. Some people have amazing charisma

  3. I enjoyed reading your post today. You shared a lot of good information.

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    Very informative and interesting blog. One odd tidbit that stuck with me was what people back in the day referred to as out West. Kentucky and out west just don’t go together in my mind. Especially since I lived there as a child and I’m a Texan. I am a member of First Christian Church, Disciplines of Christ, and one of the things I prefer about it is that they allow more female roles within the church. I was a Junior Deaconess in High School. Deoncesses aren’t allowed in most demoninations. I’ve yet to read one of your books and would
    love the opportunity. A giveaway is an awesome way to find a new author to add to my go to authors list.

  5. Welcome Shirleen, this is an interesting article. I have always found it interesting that they people had this time where they could worship and fellowship for a few days with all the hard work they had to do in between. It was probably looked a lot upon like a short holiday. Some people just had a God given way about them to bring others to the Word. My uncle was one of those preachers.

  6. Enjoyed very much. We had a country preacher in my church. He has passed now. But there has not been one I’ve found like him.

  7. Well now I know why a Church in this area is named Asbury Methodist probably named from Francis Asbury. Never know could be. This was a very informative blog I enjoyed it very much

  8. Thanks for sharing your post today! 🙂

  9. Hi, Shirleen! Welcome to P&P. We love having you and this great blog about frontier preachers. I love everything about the history of the West and religion was certainly a big part of the settlement. I love the cover of your book and great title! It looks so good.

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    Hi Shirleen! I truly enjoyed this post and am familiar with some of your subject matter as I live about 40 miles from Paris, Kentucky, the town closest to Cane Ridge. People can visit Cane Ridge and see the original site of the great revival that revolutionized Christianity in our area.
    I hope to read your book soon.
    Blessings!

  11. AS a child, I attended modern tent revivals, so I haven an idea about them.

  12. Thanks for sharing, great post.

  13. Shirleen,

    I enjoyed your post and your books. I can’t wait to read Bay’s Desire.

  14. I really enjoyed your post. It is amazing what a great speaking voice can do. I can’t wait to read your new book looks really good.

  15. Interesting information.
    Would love to read your book. I am always looking for authors I have yet to read.

  16. Shirleen, thank you for this interesting post!

  17. We now live in NE Tennessee and the history of preachers in this area is strong. Tusculum University is Tennessee’s oldest university and the 28th-oldest operating college in the United States. Samuel Doak, a Presbyterian minister, founded St. Martin’s Academy in 1783. The school was used as a hospital and headquarters for the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1868 it merged with Greeneville College which had been established by Hezekiah Balch, a friend of Doak and a fellow Presbyterian minister. The school became a university in 2018. The original school is now called Washington College Academy. Our son attended for a year and it closed a few years ago. The county is holding evening classes there now. It is sad, the old campus is lovely. This area is still dotted with revivals every year. Some are held by traveling preachers with tents set up on established church grounds, others on empty lots.

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