From Kentuckytourism.com, “The Shakers played an important role in American religious history, developing the longest lasting communal society. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is America’s largest restored Shaker community, with 34 carefully restored buildings and 3,000 acres of preserved farmland.”
Wikipedia describes the Shakers as follows: “The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, known as the Shakers, is a religious sect. Founded upon the teachings of Ann Lee, Shakers today are mostly known for their cultural contributions (especially their style of music and furniture), and their model of equality of the sexes, which they institutionalized in their society in the 1780s.”
The Shakers were a Christian sect that started in 1747 in England and then crossed the Atlantic to emigrate to the American colonies in 1774. They had some unusual practices such as their very ecstatic, charismatic worship services which earned them the moniker “Shaking Quakers.” Also, they were know for their completely celibate life for all members in communal colonies of men, women, and children (from couples that joined but lived celibate after joining, while their children were raised in a group by other members of the commune). Despite their unique characteristics, they fit right in to the tremendous and wide-spread revival called the Great Awakening that swept the colonies (and later states) from the early 18th century to the late 19th century (actually divided by scholars into four distinct periods of religious revival).
As mentioned up above, they were led by Anne Lee who “joined them by 1758 and soon assumed leadership of the small community. The loss of four children in infancy created great trauma for ‘Mother Ann,’ as her followers later called her. She claimed numerous revelations regarding the fall of Adam and Eve and its relationship to sexual intercourse. She had become the ‘Mother of the new creation,’ who called her followers to confess their sins, give up all their worldly goods, and take up the cross of celibacy.”
I’m always fascinated by the various religious sects under the umbrella of Christianity that have arisen throughout Christian history, including the many Amish that we occasionally see driving their distinctive black, horse-drawn, box-like buggies around Elizabethtown. I’m continually amazed at how generous God is in accepting our many individual (sometimes ignorant) approaches to Him, following our limited ability to comprehend, our unique personality traits, our unique vision of what constitutes worship, our unique experience of life, and our unique conscience and understanding of Him and of scriptural truth.
It is yet one more example of His limitless, boundless love for us.
I pray that His sweet love will cover you this day.