These Circular Letters show what things the Baptist churches and associations at the "top of Kentucky" were concerned about in the nineteenth century. The Circulars in this collection, at this time, are written by men from northern Kentucky; most of them are from the Northbend Association. The Kirtleys, Robert E. and James A., are from the third generation of a family in the Northbend Association. James A. Kirtley pastored for about five decades in the area. He wrote more than any other person from the Northbend Association on doctrinal issues.
There are also three histories of the Northbend association written as Circulars at different times. These have information about churches that joined since the last history was written and mention some of the issues of the day.
The Campbell County Association came from the Northbend and seems to have been formed partly because of distance factors and also some doctrinal issues that were developing in the Northbend Association. There are four Circular Letters posted from this association; the one written in 1855 gives us a vague history of the Campbell County Association; the biography of John Stephens, near the end of the Letter, gives a vivid picture of some of the difficulties of a pioneer Baptist preacher. The Circular giving the doctrinal statement is very clear. The one on Communion was borrowed from a Circular of an association bordering Campbell County to the southeast (Bracken County). Campbell County had very little slavery, but Northbend Association to its west and Mason County to its east were two areas with significant slavery. The Circular of 1861 addresses their war concerns.
In 1840, the Salem Predestinarian Baptist Association was established in northern Kentucky, mostly from churches in the Northbend Association. A few of their Circulars are extant.
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