The Laurel County Sheriff's Department says the 48-year-old woman was bitten by a poisonous timber rattler during an evening service at the East London Holiness Church.
Several church members living nearby refused to comment.
But some people who live near the church, who didn't want to be identified, say church members routinely bring snakes with them to services.
Some neighbors described hearing loud stomping and singing saying they dance while they handle the snakes.
Other neighbors said this was the first they'd heard about snake handling just a few doors down.
The 48-year-old woman died after she was airlifted to the UK Medical Center, her accidental death put the church under investigation.
In Kentucky, Alabama, and Tennessee there is a law that prohibits the use of poisonous snakes in places that endanger the lives of others without a permit.
Kentucky's law specifically mentions religious services.
As of 2001, it is believed there were only about 40 rural churches in the U.S. which practiced the religious ritual.
Most in Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia.