Turning Point
Created by Meredyth Tipton

 

Introduction
Turning Point
Persecution
Journey to America
Help From the Indians
New Converts

Shaker Crafts

Footnotes

     In the year 1758, when Ann was twenty-two years of age, she experienced a turning point her life. She attended a series of religious revivals led by Jane and James Wardly, who had been devout Quakers and in the year 1747, received a spiritual message - "a further degree of light and power’ - that led them to depart and form their own group called the Wardley Society. The group practiced open confession, and preaching by Jane Wardley; in Manchester a female preacher was unheard of. Wardley’s version of religious worship also included shakings of the body, and motions of the head and arms, and they came to be called "Shaking Quakers," and in this time was shortened to Shakers.

The Shaker Moto

HIS 338
HIS 338-Supplements

     Ann often wondered if it was possible that the kingdom of God would be brought forth on earth by a woman, and continued her worship with the Wardleys. Ann felt as though things were looking up in her life until her father insisted that she marry. On January 5, 1762, at the age of twenty-six, Ann married a blacksmith named Abraham Standerin. Ann, because of her independent spirit, went against normality, and kept her maiden name.

     Ann and Abraham had four children together. Three of their children died in infancy, and their daughter, Elizabeth, died at six years of age. These deaths brought feelings of guilt and grief to Ann, and she became so devastated that she had what we now call a complete nervous breakdown. She could not sleep and often spent the whole night crying to God from deliverance of sin. When she later told her followers of this time in her life she explained, " Soon after I set out to travel in the way of God, I labored nights in the work of God. Sometimes I labored all night, continually crying to God for my own redemption; sometimes I went to bed and slept; but in the morning I could not feel that sense of the work of God which I had before I slept. This brought me into great tribulation. Then I cried to God and promised him that if he would give me the same sense that I had before I slept, I would labor all night. This I did many nights; and in the daytime I put my hands to work and my heart to God; and when I felt weary or in need of rest, I labored for the power of God and the refreshing operations of the power of God would release me, so that I would feel able to do my work. I felt my soul overwhelmed with sorrow; and I used to work as long as I could keep it concealed and then run to get out of sight, lest anyone should pity me with that pity which God should not. In my travail and tribulation my sufferings were so great that my flesh consumed upon my bones, bloody sweat pressed through me skin, and I became as helpless as an infant. And when I was brought through and born into the spiritual kingdom, I was like an infant just brought into the world. They see works and colors and objects but they know not what they see, and so it was with me when I was brought into the spiritual world. But before I was twenty-four hours old, I saw and knew what I saw."

     The death of Ann’s four children led her to believe that marriage and sex were the root of all evil. She believed she had been punished for her sexual sin. Ann discussed this with Jane Wardley, who advised her to practice celibacy, and by doing this would purify her soul. Her husband, Abraham, was not too fond of this idea; he was devoted to his emotional wife and her departure from his bed infuriated him. He had violent arguments with her, as all their neighbors would testify. He marched over to the cathedral and complained to the clergy about his wife’s conduct. The priests confronted Ann with the Bible, quoting Saint Paul’s directive to women: Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Ann was set in her ways, no matter what her husband or any priest had to say about the issue. Abraham came to realize that she was not going to change her mind, and he decided to stay faithful to her. Eventually, he joined the Shaking Quakers, and this just goes to show the power Ann Lee embarked on people.