Our mission is to provide educational resources about Kentucky’s Christian history and to create an appropriate vocabulary for discussing this history in public schools
Who We Are
The Kentucky Faith and Public History Education Project began in June 2019 when the board of directors of River of Life Ministries (ROLM), a 501c3 tax exempt organization affiliated with the Assemblies of God, hired Dr. Lesley Barker, a museum scholar and professional, to develop an exhibit for the general public including K-12 public school students. A group of nine humanities scholars and practitioners have agreed to serve the project with their expertise including: Native American history and culture, African American history and culture, American material culture, theology, political science, theater and music. The scholars reside in Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.
What is the Kentucky Faith & Public History Education Project?
The Kentucky Faith & Public History Education Project is located on four acres of land in Paris, Kentucky and here online. It is designed as a field trip that starts with a self-guided walking trail. The trail takes visitors past seven interpretive signs that provide objective facts and vocabulary about the Christian religion and its history in Kentucky. This is a work in progress, beginning with this website, our social media sites on Facebook and Instagram and with the easy-reader chapter books about famous Kentuckians.
Once the trail is open, visitors will be able to play an eye-spy game in which they discover clues about the lives of thirty famous Kentuckians. The clues and the signs will be hidden in intimate garden spaces that are perfect for reflection or for storytelling. The walking trail will lead to a reimagined early nineteenth century camp meeting such as the ones that informed the moral compass of antebellum America, triggered the Second Great Awakening, strengthened the abolitionist movement and impacted the role of women. The camp meeting is designed to be enjoyed independently or, by appointment, explored in the company of several costumed interpreters. There will be an area for picnicking as well. Visitors will be encouraged to collect or download Famous Kentucky trading cards based on the eye-spy game.
A series of high-interest easy reader biographical chapter books featuring famous Kentucky Christians is available for sale now (Go to the BOOKS section of this website to link to the sale pages for each book on Amazon). At the end of each book, the readers are encouraged to join the Famous Kentucky Christians Club (click here to join) using an email address. Club members will receive an e-newsletter four times each year beginning when they sign up to become a member.
The Project’s online components and our first books are available now. The walking trail is expected to open by April 2021 (pending COVID-restrictions) and the camp-meeting Living History site is expected to be open for field trips by September 2021 (pending COVID- restrictions).
How the Project Began
The Kentucky Faith & Public History Education Project started in June 2019 when we realized how carefully our public schools introduce the students to the cultural beliefs of Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists as well as to the classical Greek, Roman and even Egyptian myths that inform and informed those cultures’ religious beliefs and practices. For years we have assumed that our students are already conversant with Christian terms, beliefs and celebrations but they are not. And, if we want our students to be able to understand what Shakespeare wrote or what Rubin, Michelangelo and many others painted or what Bach or Handel composed, we have to build a conceptual framework that provides objective information and a vocabulary to discuss and critically think about Christianity. Then, if we want our students to be able to read about and debate current events and issues that revolve around the separation of church and state or to critically analyze the foundational documents of the United States, we must give them enough exposure to the tenets of Christianity to do that. President Obama was right: the United States is not a Christian nation per se. Since our founding, we have been a secular nation with a specifically Judeo-Christian heritage but without a state religion that could become mixed with our politics and result in the kinds of abuses that made the Pilgrims and the Puritans religious refugees in the first place. We are committed to use secular language that’s objective and non-devotional to make explicit the connections between the Christian history of Kentucky and events, innovations, issues and even personalities that impacted the whole country.
The Kentucky Faith & Public History Education Project exists for all the children of Kentucky to give them objective language and factual information about how our history and culture has been influenced and guided by Christianity’s ideas and practitioners.
Donate (ONLINE, by TEXT, or by MAIL)
Your gift in support of the Kentucky Faith & Public History Education Project is tax-deductible. To give online, click here. To text to give, go to 859-359-6219. Put the letters KYFPH and the amount: KYFPH $_____. Then hit send. You will be directed from there. To mail a gift, please make your check to River of Life Ministries and put KY Faith & Public History in the memo line. Mail it to 616 Clintonville Road, Paris, KY 40361. Gifts will be used to off-set the costs of installing and maintaining the walking trail, the camp meeting and the picnic area as well as for this website. Thank you, in advance, for your generous support.