NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine (AP) -- Sister Marie Frances Burgess, one of the world's last Shakers, has died. She was 81.
She died of natural causes Monday at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker village, leaving the religious group's only remaining community with six members.
Also called the United Society of Believers, the Shaker faith originated in England in the 1770s and at its peak had several thousand followers. They were
nicknamed after their enthusiastic motions during prayer services.
In 1783, Shakers settled at Sabbathday Lake, one of about 20 Shaker communities established in the United States at one time or another. The Maine
village is the only Shaker community left in the world.
Members of the community take a vow of poverty and live by the motto "hands to work and hearts to God." Their simple, efficient furniture designs
They also take a vow of celibacy, which limited the sect's growth to converts and the adoption of orphans. They do not, however, shun the modern world
and even maintain their own Web site.
Burgess entered the community in 1939, when she was 19, and filled many roles. She made candy, knitted mittens and scarves, and made dolls and dusters
sold in the community's store. She worked in the raspberry patch and baked bread and biscuits.
While she was deeply faithful to her religion, Burgess had outside interests.
"Her favorite subject was probably the Boston Red Sox," said Brother Arnold Hadd, the village's elder, referring to the professional baseball team. "She
was an avid fan, and every year, she was convinced, was going to be the year."