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The United Society of Believers in Christs Second Appearance: Unraveling the Shaker Myth

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As a senior at Gray- New Gloucester High School, located in Gray, Maine, I was a member of the class of 2006 Honors Shaker Studies Class. This one of a kind class was offered at the high school in conjunction with the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Maine. The class was first offered in 1981, thanks in large part to Brother Theodore E. Johnson who valued education highly and worked for the introduction of the class. Since its inception, the class has been offered to a select group of highly motivated high school seniors each year. It was through this class that I was first exposed to the Shakers. Throughout the course of the school year, the Shaker Studies students, who are known as "the Boggites," [from the teacher Mr. Boggs, who has been with the program from the beginning], spend time both at the Shaker library and other areas of the village on a weekly basis. The regular amount of time spent at the village allowed my fellow students and myself to come to know both the Shakers themselves and the community which has developed around them at Sabbathday Lake. Each and every member of the class comes to form their own relationship with the Shakers as they explore the past and present of Shakerism.

 

It is from this experience that I first became interested in the Shakers and their religion. I find its many different layers to be fascinating. Each time I delve into research about the Shakers I learn something new or gain a new perceptive concerning their history. Now as an American History major in college, I enjoy comparing the events and views of this relatively isolated society to the larger events of general American history. I hope the brief overview of the Shakers and Shakerism which I have provided allows people to see beyond the common assumptions and misconceptions of the Shakers and are able to enjoy the history of this unique group of people as much as I do.