The Cane Ridge Revival in 1801
America's victory over the British in the Revolutionary War, ushered in a time of expansion and prosperity. Settlers headed west to seek free lands, a new life, and more freedom. As the population of the frontier grew, so did a sense of religious indifference. Methodist circuit riders traveled hundreds of miles to reach out and become the only church that these rugged people knew. Camp meetings became popular as people looked forward to a break from the hard frontier life.
In the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, about 20 miles outside of Lexington, people traveled from all over to experience a touch from God. Scott Ross conducted his investigation of revivals with what has been called the most important camp meeting in American history - the Cane Ridge revival. This outpouring set the western frontier ablaze.
Some have asked, "What were the events that led to the Cane Ridge revival? Cane Ridge was in Kentucky in 1801. It started as a communion service, and it began with a Presbyterian serving communion. It was kind of a community communion service, and a woman had a manifestation of the Holy Ghost.
These extraordinary services exploded into the Cane Ridge camp meeting. The firey preaching started at sun up, and didn't stop until well into the night. many people fell to their faces as the weight of their sins struck them cold. Others sang, and danced as they felt the presence of God in their midst. Thousands flocked to Cane Ridge to experience a touch from God.
But as you look at Cane Ridge, it had the physical manifestations that some of the other revivals didn't have. For instance, people would fall like timber before a sharp ax. When you look at the interviews, they would fall out of agony as in the phrase, "I was scared to death." "I was so scared that I couldn't move", and they would lay on the ground for two or three days out of agony - agonizing to pray through until they got saved.
The Cane Ridge revival changed the western frontier because from it exploded these circuit rider preachers who went everywhere planting churches. These churches became points of evangelization. These were the great things that changed the frontier from being a place of what we would call the wild west, with all types of lawlessness, to people wanting law and order because God had come into their life.
The Cane Ridge revival has gone down in the history books as a very "human" affair. Yet for a brief moment in time, people praised, groaned, shouted, danced and came face to face with the living God. This encounter changed their lives forever.
Cane Ridge Camp Meeting