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Ephrata Cloister, PA

posted Apr 20, 2010, 1:42 PM by James Wise   [ updated May 9, 2011, 2:30 PM by Travis Wise ]
The Ephrata Cloister was started by Conrad Beissel, in 1732, after breaking with the German Baptist Brethren. In the following years with the death of their founder and figurehead Alexander Mack in 1735, Brethren increasingly began leaving their congregations to join Beissel in his new mystical experiment along the Cocalico Creek. The wife of Brethren printer Christopher Sauer was a Prioress at Ephrata Cloister for fourteen years. During the early years and primarily under the guidance of Beissel’s personal supervision, the community prospered, incorporated much industry, and produced a unique religious culture. But not long after the death of Beissel in 1768, the community began to wane and the buildings slowly deteriorated. After several decades, the remaining dwellers made notable attempts to preserve their society and repair the buildings, but there were not enough people left to maintain a viable community. 

In 1814, the few remaining dwellers incorporated the Seventh Day German Baptist Church which survived until 1934. Finally, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission assumed ownership of the grounds and regressing structures in 1941, and initiated a program of research, careful restoration, and continuing maintenance.

Links:
The Church of theBrethren Network - Conrad Beissel and his Communal Experiment
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