This morning we drove to the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, which is about thirty miles southwest of Lexington on US 68 near Harrodsburg. It is the largest restored Shaker community in the country. We passed through a very scenic area of hills and trees, but there were no places to pull off the road. (www.shakervillageky.org)
The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing developed in the late 18th century in England. They were harshly persecuted as 'heretics' and often were jailed. They believed that Christ had come again to earth in spiritual form. They established communities as part of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. They were called by the derogatory name, Shakers, because of the way they trembled or shook during their worship services. A group of eight believers and their prophetess leader, Mother Ann Lee, came from England in 1774 to settle near Albany, New York at Niskeyuna. They spread out from there to New England, Ohio and Kentucky. They believed in celibacy, so the only way for them to grow was to recruit new adherents from outside the group.
They were very prosperous because they used advanced methods of scientific farming, experimenting with livestock breeding and improving agricultural implements. They were almost totally self-sufficient in each community. They also became known for their labor-saving devices and high quality of manufactured products. They believed in sexual and racial equality and were staunch pacifists.
The visit to the Shaker Village was very interesting. People dressed in period costumes provide tours and talks throughout the day. We started with a guided tour of the Meeting House, where the guide gave a very informative and dynamic presentation on Shaker history and worship services. After this, we heard a wonderful solo performance by a woman in the Meeting House. From there we went outdoors to listen to another lively presentation on Shaker life and beliefs.
By then it was time for lunch in the dining room in the Trustees' Office (hotel). After a wonderful meal, we walked around the grounds for a while before heading back to Lexington.