Sunday, May 27, 2012
The Second Great Awakening began on the frontier around 1800, but reached its zenith the following year when some 20,000 people were drawn to a camp meeting at Cane Ridge, near present day Paris, KY. These camp meetings lasted over several days and featured near continuous preaching by multiple preachers representing many denominations, but dominated by Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. The services became very charismatic, with participants being overtaken by the Holy Spirit, shaking, writhing, falling down in a faint, and speaking in unknown tongues. It was these mass revivals that attracted the attention of Shaker leadership at New Lebanon, New York, resulting in the dispatch of three missionaries to the west and the ultimate founding of Shaker Communities in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.
Two of the more important preachers attracted to the revivals were Barton W. Stone, a "New Light" Presbyterian, and Alexander Campbell, who together led what has become known as the Restoration Movement, seeking "the unification of all Christians in a single body patterned after the church of the New Testament." From this movement emerged the modern denominations of the Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and several independent churches known variously as Christian Churches or Churches of Christ.
It's interesting that this church began in 1783 as a Baptist church, but changed its affiliation as a result of the influence of Campbell and Stone. Just imagine the even greater shift in theology required of the converts to the Shaker church, including adopting celibacy and communal ownership of all property. The Second Great Awakening surely was a profound experience for all who attended. I'm almost sorry I missed it. Almost ...