Shakers

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The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, known as the Shakers or Shaking Quakers, is a religious sect originally thought to be a development of the Protestant Quakers.[1] Founded upon the teachings of Ann Lee, the group was known for their emphasis on social equality and rejection of sexual relations, which led to their precipitous decline in numbers after their heavy involvement in the running of orphanages was curtailed. With few surviving members, Shakers today are mostly known for their cultural contributions (especially style of music and furniture).

Contents

Origins

The Methodists were not the only religious group to begin in eighteenth-century Britain. New communities of “charismatic” Christians also took shape during this time. One of the most important of these new movements was the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, or the Shakers. While their monastic, communitarian life has been studied extensively, little attention has been given to Shaker preaching, particularly in the early days of the order. The first members of the group were known as “Shaking Quakers” because of the ecstatic nature of their worship services. Begun in 1747, the members looked to women for leadership. Jane Wardley and Ann Lee were the most important. Jane Wardley was an articulate preacher who urged her followers to:

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