This is the only known picture of a 19th century Shaker worship service taken while in progress. Given the importance of the Poland Spring Hotel and the Rickers to the Sabbathday Lake Shakers, the Shakers deemed it advisable to grant this rare privilege. Later the picture was used in The Aletheia, written by Sister Aurelia Mace.
The picture, with its emphasis on rows of worshippers and the strong lines of the ceiling beams, provides a visual equivalent for lives which were governed by order. Note that the girls and Sisters are seated on the opposite side of the Meeting Room from the boys and Brothers. Separation of the sexes was in keeping with the belief in celibacy.
During meeting, members sat facing the Elders and Eldresses who led the worship service. Seated behind the Shakers are visitors who were welcome to attend public meeting. Again, it was the Poland Spring Hotel that brought most visitors to the area.
Although the term "Shaker" derived from their religious dances, by this time the meeting consisted solely of testimonies and songs. The official name of the sect is the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing.
The photo was taken by the Poland Spring Hotel staff photographer.
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