The historic Ephrata Cloister, in northern Lancaster County, was a German religious community founded in 1732.  By the mid-1700s the community consisted of nearly 80 celibate members supported by a married congregation living in the neighborhood.  Members of the community believed God would soon return and their life was spent preparing for that event.  One of the more prominent people in the settlement was Maria Eicher, the leader of the Sisterhood.

“Maria’s rise to prominence was based in part the theology of the Ephrata Cloister created by the founder Conrad Beissel.  Beissel taught that God held both male and female aspects in balance.  This meant that on earth, men and women should be regarded as equals,” tells Michael Showalter.

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