“Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen.”
~ Arianna Huffington
It was far too beautiful to stay inside. I met mom and dad in Mt. Sterling for lunch. From there, we drove about 20 miles to see the Cane Ridge Meeting House. Built in 1791, before statehood, this building now sits inside a larger structure known as The Shrine (Lincoln’s birthplace in Hodgenville, KY is preserved the same way).
Christianity in America owes a lot to Cane Ridge. It was here that Presbyterian Rev. Barton Stone brought services to pioneers of the western frontier. People came from miles around to attend his revivals. Those of 1801 became known as The Western Great Revival, and would convert thousands, creating denominational unity and fervor throughout the nation. Estimates put revival numbers at 20,000 to 30,000. Sometimes, there were several preachers at once, preaching from tree stumps and wagons and the meeting house. They didn’t stop until the food ran out. Stone and his congregation were abolitionists. Many of the congregation not only set free their slaves, but welcomed them to worship in The Meeting House (I suspect this stance was reversed in later decades). By 1804 Stone’s congregation split from the Presbyterians to become the Disciples of Christ. He and many of the church’s early members are buried just outside The Shrine.
The site is rather hidden, and it’s definitely off the beaten path. It’s maintained through visitor donations, not state or federal funding as if it were a park. 223 years later there are still services held in the Cane Ridge Meeting House, though not regularly. I can’t talk or even think about Cane Ridge or Barton Stone without thinking about his grandson, Charles Chilton Moore (and J. Wendell Cox who introduced him to me). Moore was a minister before he left the church. He began to publish the Blue-Grass Blade: “edited by a heathen in the interest of good morals.” We digitized this newspaper, and it’s available to read for free through Chronicling America. It’s a fascinating story. Cane Ridge is a fascinating story. My whole day was a thrill and two of the kindest, most faithful people on the planet shared it with me. Blessings abound.