Manuscript Record Book and Documents of the Fourth Baptist Church of Hector, New York, 1820-1837. BURNED-OVER DISTRICT SECOND GREAT AWAKENING.
Manuscript Record Book and Documents of the Fourth Baptist Church of Hector, New York, 1820-1837

Manuscript Record Book and Documents of the Fourth Baptist Church of Hector, New York, 1820-1837

8" x 13" ledger containing ca. 110 pp of chronological monthly entries recording the doings of this church in New York's Finger Lakes region, accompanied by more than 50 additional manuscript letters and documents relating to church business. The ledger is in fair condition, with backstrip gone, sewing loose, and some leaves detached; text pages generally in good condition and legible. The records start with the formation of the church on April 11, 1820, and include a 15-article Declaration of Faith and list of founding members. After this are monthly entries detailing church business, which included assigning people to attend conference meetings, admitting new members, authorizing letters of reference for members in good standing who were moving to another church, handling complaints and disputes among members, and occasionally disfellowshipping those who had either misbehaved (most often by "excessive use of ardent spirits" or failure to attend church) or developed beliefs that were contrary to those stated in the Declaration of Faith. Because the church was often a primary arbiter for interpersonal disputes, the complaints, rebuttals, and resolutions recorded here offer considerable insight into the social life of the community. This record book is also of particular interest because the church was located squarely within the region known as the "Burned-Over District" for having so often been lit by the "fires" of religious revival. Between about 1800 and 1840, a time in American religious history known as the Second Great Awakening, skillful preachers brought new converts pouring into the ranks of the evangelical denominations (primarily the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists), and at the same time, many new religious movements were born or flourished in the area (including Mormonism, Adventism, Shakerism, and Spiritualism), and several utopian communities also thrived. Although it is not explicitly stated, it appears likely that the Fourth Baptist Church of Hector experienced a revival in late 1829, when the meeting minutes record a surge in new people seeking and being granted membership in the church. Previously, new members were added only occasionally (one or two per meeting at most), and generally by presenting a letter of reference from another church. But in November 1829, 11 members were added and in December the Church met twice and admitted 10 new members. In all of these cases, the members "came forward and gave a relation of [his or her] Christian experience" and expressed a desire to be Baptized -- indicating they were newly converted. A careful reading of these records is likely to reveal much of interest to local historians as well as scholars interested in the process and impact of religious revival in the early nineteenth century. Augmenting the record book are more than 50 related documents, many of them letters of reference received from other churches in the area and queries regarding the status of former or potential members.

Item #20690

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