Site of 1792 Church

Historical Marker #753 in Bourbon County marks the site of Mt. Gilead Methodist Meeting House, which was founded in 1792.

The founder of Mt. Gilead, Caleb Jarvis Taylor, was born in Maryland in 1763, into the Roman Catholic faith. He left home at 18 to become a school teacher, converted to Methodism, and became a preacher before he was 20. In 1792 he came to Kentucky, settled in Mason County, and then moved to Paris. The church in Paris was probably the earliest Methodist congregation in the area northeast of Lexington.

Taylor was considered one of the chief songwriters of the evangelical camp meeting movement on the frontier, composing a hymnal titled "Spiritual Songs," in 1804. The Great Revival in Kentucky culminated at the camp meeting held at Cane Ridge in 1801. That gathering was well attended by Methodists, who likely sang some Of Caleb Jarvis Taylor's hymns such as, "Good Morning, Brother Pilgrim," "What, Marching to Zion," or "Almighty Love Inspire My Heart with Sacred Fire."

At the time of the Great Revival American Methodism was the third largest denomination in Kentucky. Much of their success depended on their style of itinerant preaching. By 1800 there were six circuits served by about twelve preachers. Between congregational visits by a designated preacher, each church worshiped under the direction of a leading layman from the church. The Methodist Annual Conference coordinated and advised the traveling ministers and the congregations on the frontier and directly impacted the rapid increase of Methodist churches.

As attendance decreased at Mt. Gilead, the Paris Methodist Church was organized about 1807, near the church's present location at 7th and Pleasant Streets in Paris. There were several churches on this site, but the present congregation was built in 1897, and rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1911. The surrounding cemetery is believed to have 125 people buried there, but the inscriptions have been recorded and preserved for only eight stones.