One evening sometime during the fall of 2011, my friend Chris and I were sitting around complaining about the ways of the world. The conversation eventually turned towards discussing how despite both of us having been born and raised in Rochester, NY, how neither one of us had ever bothered to visit any of the “cool looking” spiritual places of worship in the area, like St. Michael’s Church or St. Stanislaus Church…
We quickly realized that actually devising a list of places we wanted to see (and that would also let us in), may actually be a pretty cool thing to do for the next couple weekends. However, the list of places to see quickly became quite elaborate and lengthy, since it included all faith systems, and also included houses of worship outside of Rochester, NY. [ See their growing list of Sacred Sites on FourSquare ]
We decided that it might be pretty cool to blog about the places we visited so Chris started to set this up. After doing a little bit of research about some of the religious history of Rochester, NY, we began to come across the term “the burned-over district” again and again. Come to find out, the burned-over district refers to the land of upstate New York, generally between Buffalo and Syracuse, which was ground-zero for what became known as the Second Great Awakening .
The Second Great Awakening is a time in American history from approximately 1820 – 1850 when religious revivalism was at an all-time high, and the man who became the mouth piece for this movement was named Charles Finney. Mr. Finney devised the term to refer to the area in Upstate, NY, as the burned-over district since the area had so many religious movements taking place there, there was no more “fuel” (unconverted population) left over to “burn” (convert). We thought calling our blog “Exploring the Burned Over District” was quite appropriate and fitting for the adventure we have now been undertaking for the last 8-9 months.
Let me just be clear, we by no means are only exploring houses of worship from this time period. We have included Muslim mosques, Hindu Temples, Jewish Synagogues and Scientology churches just to name a few. However, we have also included a few of the faiths that had their birth in the burned-over district, such as Mormonism and Spiritualism. Our journey is simply to visit sacred sites and houses of worship of all faith systems in order to learn and educate ourselves. We are constantly striving to learn of new places to include on our adventure, and have now expanded our journey from Niagara Falls to Albany. We strive to be as objective as possible on the blog and inform our readers what each site consists of, and if necessary, also include some history for the reader to better understand the faith system. Neither one of us endorse any particular religious belief system over another, we treat each of them with equal amounts of skepticism and open-mindedness. Neither one of us claim to be a member of any one sect, denomination or organization–other than simply being humans.
We typically get asked, “So what’s your favorite site?” That has now become quite a hard question to answer, but here’s a list of a few places and while they may not be our “favorite” place, the story of our visit is definitely worth reading…
Hindu Temple of Rochester –
St. Michael’s Church –
In addition, for any history buffs out there, the creation of this Catholic church has quite an interesting story that involves the many different European nationalities arriving in Rochester at the time.
The Oneida Community –
Many consider the Oneida Community to be the longest-lasting, most economically successful, and best known Utopian community in American history. The community was dedicated to creating Heaven on earth in daily life and in the surrounding world.
This site is an easy day trip from Rochester, and one that we would highly recommend for everybody to see! Trust me when I tell you, there’s much more to this story here
Basilica of the National Shrine
of Our Lady of Fatima – Lewiston, NY
However, what really was an incredible experience for us was that we were invited to eat dinner with the nuns and priests in the seminary…which we did and truly had a once in a lifetime experience. Read the full story here
Church of Scientology –
Find out what happened to Chris & Luke at the Church of Scientology in Buffalo . You won’t be disappointed.
I would like to thank RochesterSubway.com for inviting me to write this and allowing me to plug my blog. We felt that some collaboration would be interesting since there are some similarities in our blogs, and perhaps will help all of our readers appreciate the rich and diverse religious cultures that exist in Rochester and Upstate, NY.
…And thank you Luke for sharing this great story with us! If you would like to submit a story of your own, simply email it (along with photos) to [email protected]. Reader submitted stories can be about anything you’d like, but should relate to Rochester in some way please.
Tags: Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Buffalo NY, Burned Over District, Church of Scientology, Hindu Temple of Rochester, John Humphrey Noyes, Lewiston NY, Luke Myer, religion, Rochester, Rochester NY, Second Great Awakening, St. Michael’s Church, The Oneida Community
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