Disciples News Service

South Elkhorn Christian Church celebrates 250th anniversary

Submitted by South Elkhorn Christian Church

South Elkhorn Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, recently celebrated the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the congregation.

South Elkhorn Christian is one of the oldest congregations in the Disciples of Christ denomination. It is located about 50 miles from the site of the 1801 Cane Ridge Revival Meeting that led to the creation of the Disciples.

The Traveling Church

The South Elkhorn congregation is one of the oldest continuously operating institutions of any kind in Central Kentucky, founded twenty-five years before Kentucky became a state.

The congregation was begun in 1767 in Spottsylvania County, Virginia.  Members of the original congregation, which became known as The Travelling Church, migrated to Kentucky in 1781, locating first in Lincoln County and eventually establishing a permanent location on the banks of South Elkhorn Creek in 1783 where it has been ever since.

From Spottsylvania to Lexington

South Elkhorn Christian Church is directly descendent from the congregation founded in Spottsylvania, Virginia on November 20, 1767 by Elijah Craig, Lewis Craig and others.

Lewis Craig was the first pastor of the congregation.  Brother Elijah, also a minister, is better known as one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry in Kentucky.  The brothers were targeted by the state of Virginia for their refusal to practice the “official” state religion.  Both were jailed at various times and were defended at one point by Patrick Henry.  All of this activity is considered to have influenced the creation of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution and certainly led to the decision to migrate to Kentucky.

In many ways, the history of the Craigs’ church is a history of Protestant religion in this area of the United States.

The 600 pioneers who made the arduous trip from Spotsylvania to Kentucky in 1781 brought the ecumenical seeds of the Protestant faith to the frontier West, planting first in what is now Lincoln County and ultimately bearing fruit on the banks of Elkhorn Creek where South Elkhorn Christian Church sits today.