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      Editor’s note: This article appeared in the The Cross and Journal , a Baptist journal published in Cincinnati, OH, by its editor, John Stevens. It was republished by The Baptist newspaper, in Nashville, TN in May, 1835.

New York – Kentucky
A Baptist Lesson

Bother Stevens:
      I have been examining lately the report of the New York Baptist Convention – its statistics – table of associations and other documents, and have thereby been led to sketch out the following comparison between the progress of the Baptists in that State and Kentucky. I select Kentucky because it is one of the oldest western States – because the Baptists had pre-occupancy and for many years were more numerous than other denominations, and because the progress of the Baptists in that State furnishes a kind of sample for their progress in the west generally. – For this purpose I have selected two periods, 1812 and 1834, including the term of twenty-three years.

      In 1812. the Baptist in Kentucky numbered 13 associations, 313 churches, 205 preachers and 19,897 members or communicants.

      In New York, in 1812, there were 15 associations, 245 churches, 229 preachers and 18,500 members.

      How do they count at the close of 1834? In Allen's Register, for the close of 1832, are given for Kentucky, 33 associations, 481 churches, 258 preachers and 33,721 members. The numbers in three associations, Redford, Eagle Creek and South Kentucky are not given. Allowing the same ratio of numbers in these as in others, will give 18 churches, 25 preachers and 3,372 members. Add for increase during the two last years, 26 churches, 13 preachers and 1721members, which is the ratio of increase for the preceding 23 years. The aggregation is 558 churches, 298 preachers and 38,817 members.

      In New York, at the close of 1834, are 35 associations, besides three others contemplated 719 churches, 659 ministers, including licentiates, and 60,000 communicants. – showing an increase of a proportion greater than two to one over that of Kentucky.

      In New York the ratio has more than trebled in 23 years. – In Kentucky they have not quite doubled in that time.


      I have not initiated these comparisons for invidious designs nor to provoke unpleasant sectional jealousies. They are for more important practical purposes. They are not intended to bear exclusively on Kentucky, – but are applicable, in a greater or less extent, to every western state. They have been induced by the cogitations of a western man – and as he subscribes himself A WESTERN MAN, - who feels a deep and thrilling interest in of genuine Baptist principles, and Baptist churches through Kentucky, - through the whole west. To answer the purpose, further comparisons must be instituted. I have not given account of two or three little antinomian and anti-mission establishments which are known by monthly "Signs of the Times," but have selected the great of mass effort Baptists of that State. But in reference to Kentucky I have taken all, - united – regular – separate – particular – whether effort or anti-effort – whether known by Signs or without.

      Again, I inquire, WHY THE DIFFERENCE IN FRUIT? Will it be said that New York is an older and more populous State than Kentucky? This is decidedly against the proportionate increase in New York, for in all older states, the Baptists have had to compete with other denominations, far in advance, by having possessions of towns and other favorable locations, - and in learning and general influence. Besides those counties where Baptists have flourished most have been changed from a wilderness into a populous region coeval with Kentucky, and yet Presbyterians and Methodists have been equal, and in some respects superior advantages to Baptists, in occupying them. At the period mentioned, other denominations were at least four times more numerous in the whole State of New York, than the Baptists, and yet the latter in numbers and influence are gaining upon the others. Whereas the Baptists in Kentucky once had the advantage ground most decidedly. They were the first religious people to enter its territory and organize churches. In 1810, Presbyterians and Methodists, and Cumberland Presbyterians in the whole State did not exceed 60 preachers, and 10,000 communicants: - not a third of as many preachers, and only a small fraction over half as many members as the Baptists.

      Does one suggest that a multitude of Baptists, and especially Baptist preachers, have emigrated from New York to Michigan, Ohio, and other new countries have been proportionate, - and as to the greater emigration of preachers from Kentucky that is involved in my question. Why have so many preachers left the State for new countries? Is it because God has not called them wholly to the ministry? Or have no churches neglected to call and sustain them?

      But another fact developed in these investigations, is, that the increase of Baptist ministers in New York, in 23 years, has been 430, - while in Kentucky the increase has been only 91! Here is an astounding fact that ought to be looked directly in the face. WHY IS THIS?

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