Throwback Thursday: How the Red River Meeting House began the Second Great Awakening

223 years ago this week, our country was in the
middle of its Second Great Awakening. Many historians believe this
protestant religious revival that spread religion and sparked reform
through major church meetings across the United States can all be traced
to a specific church meeting house in nearby Logan County. This is the
story of the red river meeting house, birthplace of the Second Great

As the story goes, Reverend James McGready moved from North
Carolina to Kentucky around 1797. He left the Carolinas because some of
his preachings on redemption and revival were too radical for his
congregations. Moving to Logan County, he was given the chance to
preach at Red River and Gasper River meeting houses. From June
13th through the 17th, 1800, the Red River Meeting House in
Logan County was home to this country’s first ever camp meeting and by
far the biggest Kentucky had ever seen.

Presbyterian Minister McGready began the worship with what seemed to
be a normal sacrament that evolved into a weeklong revival. Attendees
from over 100 miles away made their travels to the Red River
Meeting House. McGready himself wrote of the mass redemption of
profane swearers and Sabbath breakers asking for forgiveness. They
say maybe 10% of Kentucky’s entire population at the time
attended these camp meetings, as people swarmed to Logan County by
the thousands.

The Second Great Awakening led to the founding of many colleges,
seminaries, and missions. It also led to more talks of social reform to
remove all sin from society – abolition of slavery and alcohol, giving
rights to women, and more.

The Red River Meeting House has burned down or been destroyed
several times, but its historic and religious significance has helped find
funds to ensure it gets rebuilt every time. The Red River Meeting House
still hosts religious concerts and celebrates that start of the Second
Great Awakening during the week of June 13th through the
17th every year.