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Historical analysis of the Shakers

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  1. Introduction
  2. The proof of the second coming and Shakers belief
  3. Hymns displayed imagery of Ann Lee
  4. Narrative history of experience in America
  5. The efforts of popular revivalism and enthusiast religion
  6. Strengths and legacy of Shaker religion
  7. Worship and gender in Shaker religion
  8. Shaker communism
  9. Realized eschatology
  10. Conclusion
  11. Bibliography

The early Shaker belief system rested on an understanding that Christ's second coming had arrived. The founder of the sect, Mother Ann Lee, experienced a mystic vision of Christ while imprisoned. This vision was of the Christ and his church on earth. The early Shakers believed Ann Lee was the bride of Christ, and in this spiritual marriage Ann Lee and Christ had become one. Ann Lee was the second coming. Because of this dispensation, there was sufficient grace in the world for true believers to become perfect. The power to forsake sin was described by a member as, ?We materially differ from others in not only confessing our sins, but in receiving power to forsake them. We have experienced the second coming of Christ.?

Shakers believed the proof of the second coming was in the apostolic gifts manifested by some of the Shakers. These spiritual gifts included speaking in tongues and the ability to cast out demons. The sect held distinctive worship, singing distinctive words as well as dancing in the worship service. Shakers believed that dancing was a gift of God in the church. ?Dancing is the gift of God to the church, or the way in which it has been led. In this exercise we receive that strength, and consolation to which the world are total strangers.

[...] Following Lucy Wright, leadership of the Shakers was divided between several individuals and no longer rested on a single charismatic figure. Leadership became collective which was the norm for the rest of Shaker existence. The middle of the nineteenth century saw the economic boom of Shaker communities. Since the westward expansion created a need for communication infrastructure, the communities had built in distribution networks for their cash crops, pressed herbs and seeds which offered the largest profit during this time period. [...]


[...] The Shakers developed the notion of the body of Christ existing with membership of the rich and poor, of all races, genders, united in one community. Shaker Villages in Massachusetts existed at the same time as the utopian communes of Brook Farm and Fruitlands. Even the liberal transcendentalists were caught by the spirit of communal life and common labor which expressed itself in Shaker life. After the demise of the transcendentalist communes, some members joined with Shaker Villages where sustainable communal life was a reality. [...]


[...] East Canterbury, NH: Hyperion Press Stein, Stephen. The Shaker Experience in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press Streib, Matthew. "Shakers Cling to Life." Christian Century 125, no 2008): 19. Charles Edson Robinson, A Concise History of the United Society of Believers Called Shakers (East Canterbury, NH: Hyperion Press, 1975) Thomas Brown, An Account of the People Called Shakers (Troy, NY: Parker and Bliss, 1812) Ibid Ibid Marjorie Procter-Smith, Women in Shaker Community and Worship (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985) Ibid Ibid F.W. Evans, Shaker [...]

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