Marker 1679: "Burgin Christian Church"

Historical marker # 1679 shares the story of Burgin Christian Church which traces its origin to the 1830s in Mercer County.

Although constructed in 1895, Burgin Christian Church is inextricably linked to the early days of white settlement in Mercer County. John Rice organized the first congregation to meet at Shawnee Run Baptist Church beginning in 1778. This log structure, located approximately five miles east of present-day Harrodsburg, served as both a church and school as the local community grew. Burgin Christian Church was formed in 1830 by members of the Shawnee Run Baptist Church who separated from the group to follow the teachings of Alexander Campbell.

The Great Revival of 1800 began in Kentucky and reached Shawnee Run Baptist Church in the early nineteenth century. In 1830 that religious fervor divided the congregation. The teachings of Alexander Campbell and others like Barton Stone and Walter Scott became prominent during the Restoration Movement, which sought to reform the church The teachings of these individuals accompanied the Second Great Awakening, a Protestant religious revival, which began in the early nineteenth century. This revival emphasized equality of spirit and forever changed the delivery and worship of Christianity in the United States.

During the early years of the Second Great Awakening, Barton Stone started a movement in Kentucky to revive the foundations of the apostolic church. Stone’s followers met in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1831 with members of Campbell’s movement, at which point the two groups united and formed what is known as the “Stone-Campbell Movement.” The teachings of both Stone and Campbell focused on the New Testament of the Bible with individual congregations as the central focus, uniting congregations across denominations.

Although the teachings of Stone and Campbell overlapped, the congregation split primarily over Campbell’s teachings and interpretations. Campbell believed that only the Bible and God had supreme authority. Though Campbell followed Presbyterianism and had been baptized in his youth, he believed that Christian denominations were not free of human influence.

Visiting Reverend Josephus Hewitt first preached the principles of Campbellism at Shawnee Run Baptist Church around 1830. Hewitt’s introduction of these beliefs resulted in expulsion of seventy church members because of their adherence to Campbell’s teachings. This led to a divided congregation who alternated attending the Shawnee Run Baptist Church on opposite Sundays. The “Disciples of Christ,” or Campbellites, moved their congregation to their newly built Cane Run Christian Church in 1847, a short distance from Shawnee Run Baptist Church.

In August 1894, after half a century of worship at Cane Run, an officer’s meeting resulted in a unanimous executive decision to relocate the church to the town of Burgin in Mercer County, rather than address the structural issues of the Cane Run Christian Church. While a portion of the congregation opposed the move, the officers elected to allocate funds for the new structure in Burgin.

The town of Burgin emerged along the Cincinnati Southern Railway. Temple Burgin originally granted the company access through his land for $1.00. This led to the formation of the town of Burgin in 1877. Burgin Christian Church became the first church within the town. The church sits on a tract of land once a part of Temple Burgin’s original farm. According to church records, Temple Burgin attended Cane Run Christian Church and donated the land for the location of the “new sanctuary,” to be named Burgin Christian Church. The church is presently located on Main Street in Burgin, Kentucky.