Thursday, May 12, 2022

Save the Date for the first Kentucky Christian History Festival & Fundraiser OR ask to schedule a Kentucky Christian history field trip

Make plans now to bring your family to the first ever Kentucky Christian History Festival & Fundraiser in Paris, Kentucky on Saturday, October 1, 2022 beginning at 10AM. Your children will love the Walking Trail with the Eye-Spy game featuring the stories of 30 famous Kentucky Christians. They will have the opportunity to experience thirty five-minute games, crafts, challenges, and activities that each connect to one of these famous Kentucky Christians. There will be vendors, food, and performances for you to enjoy. Admission is free. 

This family-focused day will be fun and educational. Homeschoolers can definitely count this as a school field trip and allot the hours to history or social studies. 


Homeschoolers are also welcome to schedule a guided field trip to the Walking Trail and to select from a menu of activities from history to do during the experience. Use this online form to let us know that you want to schedule a Kentucky Christian History field trip.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Family-friendly guided Walks & Talks about Kentucky's Christian history

Starting Wednesday, April 6, 2022, every Wednesday (April through October) at six o'clock, we will host a Walk & Talk about Kentucky's Christian history . Each adventure will last about 45 minutes. Come to the back of the parking lot outside River of Life Ministries at 616 Clintonville Road, Paris, Kentucky 40361. You will see a "Welcome to the Kentucky Faith & Public History Project Walking Trail" sign next to a sign with a cute little puppy - Dogs are welcome to join us as long as they are leashed and you pick up anything they leave behind. Everyone should be dressed for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. We will walk about a half mile. Every Walk & Talk will have a different theme. Additional programs will happen the first Friday and Saturday of the month. These programs are appropriate for people of all ages and are totally free. We are looking forward to seeing you and your family there.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Changes and Twists in American Religious Life - a Reflection on a blog by Terry Mattingly from 1/8/22

 I follow the Get Religion Blog online. This morning I read a post by Terry Mattingly in which he quoted research that indicates that while 29% of Americans identify as having no religion or spiritual affiliation, 63% of adult Americans affiliate as Christians. That's a more than two-to-one ratio. It sounds good until you read on and discover that in 2007, just 15 years ago, the ratio was five-to-one. Mattingly quotes Rod Dreher that "America continues to transition to its post-Christian reality. ...We in the churches still don't know what to do about it. We have never before faced a crisis like this..." (https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2022/1/7/two-think-pieces-on-changes-in-american-religious-life-with-a-few-political-twists?utm_source=GetReligion&utm_campaign=b1b369cc61-RSS+EMAIL+CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_782cfe9a54-b1b369cc61-240924845

I dispute Dreher's statement that the church has never faced such a crisis based on information we have about the state of the church in late eighteenth century Kentucky. Dr. Robert Davidson, in his History of the Presbyterian Church, wrote the following in 1847: "By the close of the [18th] century, a decided majority of the people were reported to be infidels; and as infidelity is the prolific parent of vice, the whole country was remarkable for lawless vice and dissipation. A melancholy spectacle is presented. We behold infidelity and vice combined rolling their turbid tide over the land; while the Church, which should have been erecting barriers to arrest its progress, is either benumbed by worldliness or wasting her energies in frivolous disputes." (Quoted in "The Great Revival of 1800 First Camp Meeting" by Z.F. Smith in Register of Kentucky State Historical Society, May 1909.)

That was the climate in which the Second Great Awakening emerged, triggered by the camp meeting revivals, such as the most significant one in 1801 at Cane Ridge, not seven miles from our headquarters at the Kentucky Faith & Public History Education Project in Paris, Kentucky. 

The following year, Rev. George Baxter's letter to a colleague at the Hampton-Sidney College in Virginia related a sea-change. He wrote: "I think the revival in Kentucky among the most extraordinary that have ever visited the church of Christ; and all things considered, peculiarly adapted to the circumstances of that country... Something of an extraordinary nature seemed necessary to arrest the attention of a giddy people who were ready to conclude that Christianity was a fable and futurity a dream. This revival has undone it; it has confounded infidelity, awed vice into silence, and brought numbers beyond calculation under serious impressions." (First published in the Methodist Magazine of London in February 1803. Quoted in Charles A. Johnson. The Frontier Camp Meeting: Religion's Harvest Time. Southern Methodist University Press. 1955, 1985.)

Other notable revivals were also preceded by such a "crisis" of "infidelity" and "vice". Perhaps the current "crisis" should be viewed as a red sky in the morning presaging a spiritual whirlwind that will upend and reshuffle everyone in its path with another great awakening to the urgency of our spiritual condition, impacting and redirecting a nation once again. 

By Lesley Barker PhD, Director of the Kentucky Faith & Public History Education Project. The project creates educational resources about the Christian history of Kentucky.




Wednesday, December 1, 2021

A Dot-to-Dot book about Kentucky and famous people from Kentucky (It makes a great stocking stuffer)

We were at a holiday craft show recently. We were selling the Famous Kentucky Christians Club books now that there are eight titles in the season. We had them wrapped nicely in sets - all the books about women in a set; all the books about men in a set. People could also purchase individual books. We sold a bunch for Christmas gifts. However, many grandparents came to our booth hoping to find something for their grandchildren who are not yet old enough to read. What did we have to offer these younger, primary grade children?

As of today, we are pleased to announce that the project has published its first activity book, The Kentucky Dot-to-Dot Book, by Lesley Barker. A short paragraph introduces each dot-to-dot puzzle which can be enjoyed even without reading the text. Solve the puzzle and color the picture. The book gives great introductory facts about Kentucky history. It also introduces some famous Kentuckians who happened to be public about their Christian faith. The book makes a perfect stocking stuffer for kids of any age.

You can purchase your Kentucky Dot-to-Dot Book online here.

You can also buy the easy-reader chapter books in the Famous Kentucky Christians Club series online here. They are high-interest books written at a second to fourth grade reading level and are appropriate for students through middle school and beyond.



Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Teaching History Teaches Critical Thinking Skills

Teaching history is about much more than introducing students to names, dates, places and past events. History explores how people and cultures interacted in the past with all the clashes and sometimes messy complications that produced new ideas and adventures. Teaching history well develops critical thinkers especially if the students are trained to be intentional inquirers. The Kentucky State Curriculum Standards for Social Studies include a four-step "inquiry process" which is similar to the "scientific method" taught in the hard sciences. Home schooling parents can benefit from this approach as well.

The four steps are:

  1. Ask important questions - the students should be assisted to develop their own questions to inform their reading and research
  2. Hunt for facts - the students should be introduced to good research techniques such as internet search protocols, library skills, oral history methods and field observation
  3. Show proof- the students should become practiced in documenting their sources and giving credit for the ideas they advance
  4. Share what you learn - the students should gain experience communicating what they discover using written, oral, artistic and performance mediums
Using these steps in your home school history and social studies lessons can motivate your students to become engaged and invested in the lessons. 

The Kentucky Faith & Public History Education Project has produced a series of easy-reader, high-interest chapter books about famous Kentucky Christians. Each book is written at a second - fourth grade reading level. Each book is a fictional account of a team of four fourth grade students who are assigned to represent their school at a contest where they must present a show & tell display about a famous person that they start out knowing nothing about. Each book has four chapters. Each chapter models one stage of the inquiry process. The books are available on Amazon here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

What do your students want to do when they grow up?

The Kentucky Faith and Public History Education Project has a list of famous Kentucky Christians on our website at https://kentuckyfaithandpublichistory.org/famous-kentucky-christians/. The list names a person, gives a brief statement for which they are famous, and a link to more information available online. It is a preliminary list of people. We're adding to it continually. It is a wonderful resource for homeschool history projects. It is a treasure trove of inspiration that homeschoolers can find to be aspirational. A very important objective of this directory of famous Kentucky Christians is to illustrate that the Christian message does not divide peoples' purposes or value into clergy and laity where one calling is more to be regarded than another. Jennie C. Benedict's life is such an example.

Jennie C. Benedict was an entrepreneur living in Louisville in 1884. She was in search of a project for which she had both passion and skill. Her process started with faith. She expressed how faith triggered her search with these words:

"Feeling a desire to prove what a woman can do in the business world without capital, and being confronted with the necessity of falling into rank in the marts of trade, I began,... to examine myself for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not I possessed a God-given talent; and if so, what it was..." (The 1893 Blue Ribbon Cookbook p. 12). 

Eleven years later she quoted this poem in the preface for the book (p.16):

                    "It is not the branch of work alone that lifts to a higher sphere,

                    For man may choose the humblest part, to find the great is near.

                    God gives us all our part to do, and with our life the right

                    To leave our path unbeautified, or mighty in His sight."

 Benedict  went on to write several cookbooks, some articles and a memoir. She lived from 1860-1928. She was from Louisville. Her recipe for cucumber sandwiches, Benedictines, remains a staple at Kentucky Derby parties. 

What do your students want to do with their lives? Is there a person on the famous Kentucky Christians list that matches what they want to do? 


Citations

Benedict, Jennie C. The Blue Ribbon Cookbook. 1893. ONLINE at archive.org/details/blueribboncookbo00bene/page/12/mode/2up. ACCESSED 9/29/2021.

Reber, Patricia Bixler. Researching Food History Cooking and Dining. 2016. ONLINE at researchingfoodhistory.blogspot.com/2019/04/advice-from-creator-of-kentucky-derby.html. ACCESSED 9/29/2021.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Difficult Issues (Like Slavery) that Complicate Teaching and Learning about Famous Kentucky Christians

Stories about past Kentucky Christians make history and faith come alive for our students. They also expose controversies and ideologies that are difficult for us modern Americans to reconcile with how we think a Christian should behave and what we think a Christian should believe. The most obvious of these difficult issues is slavery. Today, even people who argue that slavery was a necessary evil for its time do not hesitate to call it evil. Denominations formed and others split prior to the Civil War over abolition and slavery.  White Christians were on both sides of the issue. Some African American Christians were enslaved and some emancipated. 

Elisha Green was enslaved from birth until he purchased his own freedom. When he was sixteen, his owner, a Christian pastor, baptized him in a creek after he made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ (Elisha Green. 1888). Alexander Cross was an enslaved man who was purchased and then emancipated by the North Street Christian Church of Hopkinsville. This was so that he could be sent, with his free wife, Martha, and son, James, to Liberia as missionaries (Jennifer P. Brown. 2001). Alfred Russell was emancipated by his grandmother-owner to be sent to Liberia also. Eventually, he became the tenth president of Liberia (Liberia Info). While the emancipation of Alexander Cross and Alfred Russell may seem good, even godly, the Kentucky Colonialization Society (NKAA) was a veiled strategy to rid Kentucky of freed slaves- in fact, the 1850 Kentucky Constitution prohibited freed slaves from living in the commonwealth. 

Margaret "Peggy" Smith Taylor, First Lady of the United States, and her husband, Zachary Taylor owned hundreds of enslaved individuals. They even, as did eleven presidents before them, brought slaves to the White House, housing them in the attic (Walt Bachman, 2018). Peggy Taylor was a woman of faith. She gave herself to prayer, preferring to delegate her daughter as the host for the gala affairs of State.

Does the fact that Elisha Green was owned by a pastor or that Peggy Taylor owned slaves at the White House diminish the possibility that the pastor or the First Lady were sincerely people of faith? How do we talk about these difficult issues with our students? Can we separate a person's flaws from the Christian message that says no one is good but God alone (Matthew 19:17)? Is it possible for a Christian to hold convictions or to behave in ways that are determined by some later standard to be not good? 

These are the topics that public historians refer to as difficult heritage. There will always be controversies and disagreements even within the Christian community. Some of these issues will be serious enough to cause divisions and even wars. What an educator or a historian should do is explain the issues and present the questions according to the historic context and then, perhaps, trace how the conflict continued, impacted the individuals and the culture, or became resolved. Not all questions that a teacher poses to a student or that a student asks a teacher can or should have easy answers. Some questions may just need to be left uncomfortably unanswered on the table. It can seem easier to judge the individuals from the past than to apply the necessary humility to consider that we may be as guilty of something as grievous as slavery but which we have yet to gain the perspective of hindsight.  

By Lesley Barker, PhD. c. 2021


Works Cited

Walt Bachman. The Last White House Slaves: The Story of Jane, President Zachary Taylor's Enslaved Concubine. 2019.
Jennifer P. Brown. "Church Paid for Slave's Freedom" in Kentucky New Era. ONLINE at https://www.kentuckynewera.com/article_8b681ff0-e111-5a01-a7d4-ca07c905e09c.html ACCESSED 9/8/2021.
Elisha Winfield Green. The Life of Rev. Elisha Green. 1888.
“Kentucky Colonization Society,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 8, 2021, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/744.
LiberiaInfo. "Alfred F. Russell". ONLINE at http://liberiainfo.co/prd/presidents/alfred-f-russell/ ACCESSED 9/8/2021.

Save the Date for the first Kentucky Christian History Festival & Fundraiser OR ask to schedule a Kentucky Christian history field trip

Make plans now to bring your family to the first ever Kentucky Christian History Festival & Fundraiser in Paris, Kentucky on Saturday, O...