Conversation Club learns about the Shakers


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Jennilou Grotevant, the program leader for the January Conversation Club.

Jennilou Grotevant, the program leader for the January Conversation Club.


Provided by Sharon Breckel

The Conversation Club met in January at Cape May Living Campus. The 16 members present were welcomed by president Judy Sargent. She read a reading by Mother Teresa. The hostess for the afternoon, Vicki Wilson, was thanked.

Roll call was taken with members either sharing a quote or telling what they did for New Year’s Eve. Secretary Sharon Breckel read the minutes of the December meeting. Treasurer Diane Murphy gave a report.

Jennilou Grotevant was the program leader. Her topic, The Shakers, was personal to her as her great-grandmother had resided with a Shaker community after the death of the great-grandmother’s mother’s death. There were several children and the father could not care for them at the time. She stayed there about 10 years until her father remarried and the stepmother brought all the children back.

Shakers were a millenarian restorationist Christian sect founded in 1797 in England. They came to the United States in the 1790s. They were initially known as the Shaking Quakers because of their ecstatic behavior during worship services. Espousing egalitarian ideals, women took on spiritual leadership roles alongside men. They settled in Colonial America with an initial settlement in Watervliet, New York. They practiced a celibate and communal lifestyle, pacifism, uniform charismatic worship, and the model of equality of the sexes. They were known for their simple living, architecture, technological innovation, music, and furniture.

They were at their peak in the mid-19th century with 2,000-4,000 believers. They lived in some 18 major communities and numerous smaller, often short-lived communities. It was interesting to learn the Shakers had purchased land in Clinton County, near Martinsville, that never developed. The thinning of Shakers from members leaving or dying and the lack of new converts resulted in communities closing. By 1920, there were only 12 remaining Shaker communities in the United States. As of 2019, there is only one active Shaker village, Sabbathday Lake in Maine. Consequently, many of the other Shaker settlements are now museums.

The group always selects a book to read together for Salmagundi in April. It was decided to choose the selection Clinton County Reads makes.

The next meeting will be Feb. 14 at Cape May with Suzanne Madison as hostess and JoEllen Sheffield as program leader.

Jennilou Grotevant, the program leader for the January Conversation Club.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2023/01/web1_conversation.jpgJennilou Grotevant, the program leader for the January Conversation Club. Provided by Sharon Breckel

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