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.
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.
Buy Links for Bay’s Desire (released 1/29/2019)