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1 Of 3 Remaining Shakers Dies In Maine At Age 89

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1 Of 3 Remaining Shakers Dies In Maine At Age 89

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1 Of 3 Remaining Shakers Dies In Maine At Age 89

1 Of 3 Remaining Shakers Dies In Maine At Age 89

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Sister Frances Carr, leader of the nearly extinct religious group, has died. Shakers advocate pacifism, communal ownership and celibacy. Two other members remain at the Shaker community in Maine.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Shakers are a small religious community that practices celibacy, and now the community has lost its oldest practicing member. Sister Frances Carr died in her home in Maine at the age of 89, and there are reportedly only two Shakers left in the United States. From Maine Public Radio, Susan Sharon has more.

SUSAN SHARON, BYLINE: Sister Frances Carr was just 10 years old when hard economic times forced her mother to turn over Frances and her younger sister to the Shakers Sabbathday Lake community. Their five older siblings were already living there. And Brother Arnold Hadd says that experience shaped Sister Frances' character.

ARNOLD HADD: She was always seeking out the needy and the lowly and trying to make them a part, to give them something that they didn't necessarily have.

SHARON: The Shakers were known for taking in orphans. Those who embraced the basic tenants of the Protestant sect were welcome to join when they became adults. Here's how Sister Frances described those tenants, known as the three Cs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FRANCES CARR: It's a sharing of all things in common, so it's a religious communism, living in community. We're also a celibate community, and we also believe in the confession or sin.

SHARON: But Sister Frances also recognized that Shakerism (ph) was not the best fit for everyone, and not just because of celibacy. In her autobiography "Growing Up Shaker," she writes about the departure of her sister and other friends from the community. For most people, she said, putting God ahead of self and giving up independence was simply too much - not for her. She said that once she became a Shaker, she never felt alone.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARR: I am very happy. No life is absolutely completely free of worry or troubles, but it's the life I've chosen, and it's where I intend to spend the rest of my life.

SHARON: Sister Frances Carr said she prayed every day for new members to join their ranks. And Brother Arnold says he and the other remaining member will continue those prayers. For NPR News, I'm Susan Sharon.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In the audio of this story, there is a reference to the “basic tenants” of the Shaker sect. The reference should have been to the “basic tenets.”]

(SOUNDBITE OF JOY WANTS ETERNITY SONG, "FROM EMBRACE TO EMBRACE")

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Correction Jan. 4, 2017

In the audio of this story, there is a reference to the basic tenants of the Shaker sect. It should have been basic tenets.