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The Burned Over District Focus of Community Luncheon Series Presentation Dec. 6

Starkey Methodist Church

During much of the 1800s, wave after wave of new religious movements spread across Central and Western New York, earning it the title The Burned Over District.

The Burned Over District will be the focus of Keuka College’s next Community Luncheon Series presentation Thursday, Dec. 6.

Led by Michael McKenzie, associate professor of philosophy and religion, and Troy Cusson, instructional design manager in the Wertman Office of Distance Education (WODE), the presentation begins at noon in the Gannett Room of Lightner Library.

McKenzie combined his writing and research skills with the videography and editing talents of Cusson to create a 60-minute DVD that takes viewers on a tour of many of the exact spots where these religions either got their start or caught fire.

The DVD, three years in the making, doesn’t cover the entire Burned Over District—McKenzie and Cusson traveled throughout Yates County and into Wayne and Seneca counties—but uncovered plenty of material nonetheless.

McKenzie and Cusson traveled to such places as the house of Jemima Wilkinson, the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith claimed to have had his visions that launched the Mormon Church, and many of the actual sites of the vibrant and explosive Methodist denomination.

Mike McKenzie, associate professor of philosophy and religion.

“It’s hard to believe, because Yates County seems so quiet these days, but once it was a hotbed of religious and spiritual activity,” said McKenzie. “It was fertile ground, and not just for potatoes and carrots. And that’s the reason for the DVD. We want students and others to understand that what it is isn’t what it used to be. This county had its day, and it had a story to tell.”

Tickets for the luncheon are $12.75, $2.50 of which goes to the Penn Yan Keuka Club Scholarship Fund. The fund provides an annual scholarship to a local student attending Keuka College. Seating is limited, so reservations are advised.

Make checks payable to Keuka College and mail to: Office of Alumni and Family Relations, Keuka College, Keuka Park, N.Y. 14478. Reservations may also be made online at reservation deadline is Monday, Dec. 3.

For more information, call (315) 279-5238 or e-mail [email protected].