Several years ago, Gail and I went on a PrimeTimers’ trip to the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, KY. We were so fascinated that we decided we wanted to return and spend the night in the village and enjoy their vintage victuals. This past Monday evening, we fulfilled this dream and spent the night there – enjoying the various displays and buildings Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.
I mention this not to recount our vacation but to introduce something about the American Shaker religion – one started by a woman in England who had lost four young children. Ann Lee joined the Shakers in England in 1758. Twelve years later, she became the leader of this sect. Then, in 1774, she supposedly had a vision to establish a Shaker Church in America and sailed here with her husband and seven others.
There were many positive things to say about the Shakers regarding their piety, tenacity, communal living, industriousness, and pacifism. If you study their history, you’ll find they contributed many innovations that are helpful even today. The last time I looked, there were only two surviving Shakers – living in the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in Maine. Sadly, Ann Lee introduced celibacy as one of the tenets of “her” religion – basically destroying the home as God designed it (Genesis 1-2). And, in this misguided thinking, insured the eventual extinction of the Shakers in America.
When men or women depart from God’s word, they may experience worldly success and, in a way, the American Shakers did in the 18th century – establishing several Shaker communities. However, failure to follow God’s way will meet with condemnation on Judgment Day. We need to return to a “thus saith the Lord” for everything we do in life and worship – John 12:48.