Saturday, August 21
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Ephrata Cloister, among America’s earliest and most highly revered religious communities, was founded in 1732 by German settlers who worked to reach their spiritual goals rather than reap earthly rewards. Some of the earliest brethren resided in solitary homes- even caves in the woods- but, over times, the members gathered in unique European style buildings. At the outset, the core Ephrata community consisted of celibate Brothers and Sisters; from the commune’s earliest days, however, it welcomed a married congregation of families, although their households were located apart from the celibates.
At the zenith of the community in the 1740s and 1750s, about 300
members worked and worshiped at the Cloister. Today, the National Historic Landmark is open for tours, special programs, and on-going research opportunities.
Families have always played an important role in life at the Ephrata Cloister, and this is the chance for your entire household to discover the local heritage. From childhood through grandparents, there were jobs for everyone to keep families supplied with food, clothing and education. Here’s just a sample of some of the great things you can try on this special day:
- become an apprentice
- break flax
- weave tape
- help with colonial chores
- draft a family tree with a quill pen
- search for building clues
- explore gravestone designs
- learn about baking bread and make butter
- try-on clothing from the 1700s
- play games from long-ago
- discover a different type of family in the Sisters’ House
All activities are included with regular (low!) admission to the grounds.
For further information, see Ephrata Cloister’s site. It’s outstanding.
You might also enjoy these articles:
Celibate, pacifist, vegetarian, Conrad Beissel’s Rosicrucian Pietists made Ephrata Cloister the longest-lived and the most successful commune in America.
German Pietists at Ephrata Cloister provided the principal hospital and nursing assistance for the Continental Army troops after the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown.
They approached from different angles, but the radical mystic Protestant theosophists of Ephrata and the evolving Enlightenment Age politicians of the emerging United States met at meaningful points.
Reverend Peter Miller of the Ephrata Cloister taught George Washington a lesson in charity and the humane treatment of prisoners and criminals.