1. Popular name of The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, or The Millennial Church, a communistic sect also known as Alethians (from Gk. aletheia, truth). Originated in a Quaker revival in Eng. 1747; mems. called Shaking Quakers or Shakers because of their movements during religious excitement; joined 1758 by A. Lee* ca. 1757/58. Regarded celibacy as more perfect than marriage. To escape persecution, A. Lee led a small group to Am. 1774; settled at Niskeyuna, now Watervliet, near Troy, New York First soc. organized 1787 Mount Lebanon, near New Lebanon, New York Miss. work in the 1st half of the 19th c. extended the soc. to Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana; membership is said to have reached ca. 5,000; decline began ca. 1860.
2. Teachings. God is dual, male and female. Christ is not God, but the highest spirit, and dual, incarnate in Jesus (male) and A. Lee (female). Jesus and A. Lee are to be loved and honored (or respected), but not worshiped. Other tenets included communism, celibacy, non-resistance and non-participation in war, perfectionism, spiritism, insistence on pub. confession. Shakers rejected Trin., atonement, physical resurrection, final judgment, eternal damnation.
3. Community govt. was vested in 4 elders (2 men, 2 women). Services included addresses, hymns and anthems, and rhythmic marching. Sexes kept apart at table and worship.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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