By Sydney Hollasch
Origin of The Shakers
At its height in the mid 1800's there were over 5,000 Shaker "brothers and sisters". Since then Shaker-ism has declined and there are now a total of 12 Shakers remaining in the United States.
Jane Wardly was a preacher that urged that the shakers should repent because the kingdom of God was at hand and all the anti-Christ/church institutions would be swept away.
Joseph Meacham lead the shakers after Ann Lee died, and was supposed to have the spiritual gift of revelation. He introduced the idea of communalism to the Shaker community.
Lucy Wright, who lead the shakers after Meacham died, was responsible for introducing new types of dance and music to the shakers. The Shaker community also expanded westward into Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana while Wright led the Shakers.
Major Beliefs and Practices
Some of the core values of the Shakers are the second coming of Christ, celibacy, communal living, humility, simplicity, efficiency, hard work, and equality between the sexes. The Shakers followed fundamental Christian beliefs but rejected the holy trinity, which meant that they didn't believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Shakers also believed in direct communication with the deceased, but that belief declined over time.
Shaker religious services were very interesting in that there were many non-shaker observers. During the height of their popularity their services often included clapping, singing, and dancing. The dancing consisted of a lot of shaking of the body and moving your head and arms around. Once the Shakers declined, so did the fervor of the services.