circuit rider

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circuit rider,

itinerant preacher of the Methodist denomination who served a "circuit" consisting usually of 20 to 40 "appointments." The circuit system, devised by John Wesley for his English societies in their formative period and developed in America by Francis Asbury, proved especially adapted to the conditions of the American frontier and came into its own in the trans-Allegheny region. Its success was a factor in establishing Methodism in America. The circuit rider, traveling usually on horseback because it was economical and suited to the forest pathways, preached nearly every day and twice on Sundays, thus covering his circuit every four or five weeks. His appointments were usually in pioneer cabins, schoolhouses, or tavern barrooms. The circuit rider often had a limited education, but he was usually an effective preacher and lived a very self-sacrificing life.


See E. K. Nottingham, Methodism and the Frontier (1941, repr. 1966); W. W. Sweet, The Methodists, 1783–1840 (1946, repr. 1964).

circuit rider

frontier Methodist preacher who served “appointments” (services) in cabins, schoolhouses, and even taverns. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 561]
References in periodicals archive ?
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Adapting to frontier conditions, the Methodists preached out-of-doors, sent out itinerant circuit riders to minister to the common people, and fully embraced the raucous spiritual individualism of the camp revival, all in the face of considerable criticism from the religious and political establishment.
In contemporary times, this scenario has evolved to include toll-free phone numbers, fax services, electronic mail, and electronic document delivery, but in the early days of the medical circuit riders, these "fast" communication methods did not exist.
Pastors were circuit riders, going from homestead to homestead visiting their followers.
After 1817 the society supplied much religious literature, which was distributed widely by circuit riders.
The circuit riders also act as "marriage brokers," networking to bring together all the people and agencies that can turn an idea into a profitable business.
Winnifred was a member of the Circuit Riders in Shrewsbury, visiting the sick and elderly with prayer and communion.
Traditionally, Methodists have been circuit riders, moving from one church to another.
These circuit riders formed a sort of religious order within Methodism.

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