Welcome to five minutes in churches hosted by Dr Stephen. Nicholson, where we take a little break from the presence to go exploring the past travel back in time as we look the people events and even the places for the shape the story of Christianity this is our story family history. Let's get started. Any dillard twentieth century author she was born in Pittsburgh her memoir pilgrim at Tinker Creek when the nineteen seventy-five Pulitzer Prize in one of her writings she recalls her time at a youth camp. She said, it was quote only a half step out of a tent end quote and then she added you could still smell the sawdust she was referring to the so-called sawdust trail, billy, Sunday, that famous twentieth century fiery evangelist would tell his audiences you need to hit the sawdust trail and even would come to call his converts trail hitters. So what is this and why are we talking? About. Sawdust well, this is the era of the tent meeting revivals and these would be tense that would just be setup sometimes in the middle of nowhere sometimes and lots and urban centers and more often than not the floor was a dirt floor, and so they would put down a layer of sawdust. Especially, they would layer sawdust in the aisles. Now, this serves some very practical purposes. This was dirk after all it could get damp or even money when there would be rains, and so the sawdust would serve to absorb the moisture from the ground. Didn't we keep the ground dry? Also and these large urban tent meetings. We're talking about crowds of over ten thousand, sometimes twenty thousand people, and that's a lot of noise of steps and footfalls and shuffling feet and the sawdust served to dampen sound. There was also an aesthetic purpose for some dust. It had a pleasant smell. It was one of those smells the disorders of memorable and so someone used sawdust wants and some of these tent revivals and soon figured out. That it works. Well, this sawdust trail is also sometimes called. The sawdust circuit revivalists would refer to their tanneries as they would go from town to town. As the SAWDUST circuit and they would invite centers to come down the SAWDUST trail. This heyday of all this was in one, thousand, nine, hundred to the nineteen forties. The biggest person that was involved in this the biggest name of this was, of course, billy Sunday. He was a huge national figure at the time. He was a professional baseball player turned revivals, but there were countless pastures revival preachers that criss cross rural America, setting up tents and posting signs for revival meetings and climax of those revival meetings was the invitation, the altar call to come forward and. Again this was articulated as you need to hit the SAWDUST trail income forward. Well, the evolution of the ultra call goes back to Charles Finney and the second great awakening. But in the twentieth century, it became not just a science but also an art this hitting the sawdust trail continued long past billy Sunday's death in nineteen, thirty five. We even see some of it sometimes in the present day. There's really nothing else quite like this tent. sawdust trail. The whole event was really something people would dress up and they would. Park along the side of some rural road and they would tramp across a field and sit on a folding chair under a tent church folk is you might say, and also in would come the town drunk. There'd be a row of migrant workers would be rich poor black, white, old young townsfolk, rural folk all sitting there. There'd be. Music. Folk Gospel. Country Style. Music stand up piano guitars, fiddles, they'd be playing clapping, swaying to Al Fly away let's go down to the river to pray and the old rugged cross, and of course, there would be just as I am there'd be a pulpit and preacher who would be anything but boring he could totally hold a crowd and he'd be able to bring them back the next night. And with a canvas tent stretched overhead. And sawdust under your feet. So. That's SAWDUST that I'm Steve Nichols thanks for listening to five minutes in churches. For more information or to listen to past episodes please visit five minutes in Church history

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