This Day in History — May 28

On May 28, 1775, Anglican clergyman, the Rev. John Lyth conducted the first recorded public service of worship in Kentucky, which was held at Boonesboro.  Just a month after the Battle for which Lexington would be named the worshippers sat  ‘Beneath an old elm tree, [and] prayed for England’s “most gracious sovereign Lord King George.”’

After the Revolutionary War, vast migration began into the western outpost of Virginia, bringing into the Bluegrass area the earliest leaders of the three largest traditions in the frontier era: Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. Episcopalians also settled in the region, as well as Roman Catholics, who predominated in the area around Bardstown.

Religious movements were very important to Kentucky’s early history. The Kentucky revivals are considered by historians to be the beginning of a national “Second Great Awakening.” The Great Revival proved to be epochal in its long- term effects as well. The revival multiplied church memberships in Kentucky; both Baptists and Methodists tripled in their numbers within a three-year period. From this era sprang the Cumberland Presbyterians, the Christian Church, and the Disciples of Christ. The religious excitement also led to establishment of Shaker Communities.

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