There Are Only Two Shakers Left In the World

In 1747, a small radical Christian sect left England in search of religious tolerance. They were people who abandoned their families and social lives to live together in a communal, equal setting marked by simplicity and celibacy. Officially known as the United Society of Believers, they called themself Shakers. The death of Sister Frances Carr in 2017 reduced the number of Shakers in the world down to two. The Shaker village in New Gloucester, Maine, has been in operation since 1783, when it was founded by a group of Shaker missionaries. Inside Shaker communities, simplicity and hard work reign. Labor and craftsmanship were seen as ways to worship God, and Shakers became known for producing high-quality furniture, food, and household goods. Despite their celibacy, they had plenty of help. Shakers often raised orphans until adulthood, but in 1961 the Shaker colony stopped accepting new members. The challenging commitments of celibacy and communal life have since caused the number of Shakers to dwindle from several thousand to just two. Now, 65-year-old Brother Arnold Hadd and 83-year-old Sister June Carpenter are the only Shakers in the community, and both are determined to continue forward, proving that their religious beliefs remain anything but a historic footnote.