Feast Ground on Mount Assurance
Beginning at the Watervliet, NY Shaker Community in 1837, the Shakers began to experience an intense spiritualist revival referred to as the Era of Manifestations or the period of Mother Ann’s Work. It was during this time that Shaker communities began to adopt new spiritual practices. In addition, each Shaker community received a new spiritual name. The Enfield Shaker Village would now be known as Chosen Vale. As part of these new rituals, many of the Shaker societies created an outdoor worship area known as a Feast Ground. This space was used to celebrate the Feast of Passover in the spring and fall.
In 1843, the Enfield Shakers began construction on a flat plateau near the top of Mount Assurance to accommodate this new outdoor worship. In the center of the Feast Ground was the “Holy Fountain” which consisted of a low fence with an inscribed marble stone engrave in Enfield and erected on October 6, 1841. This stone contained the following words:
“Word of the Lord”
“Thus sayeth Jehovah, Behold my word, read, understand, and consider well. O ye children of men, for solemn truth do I declare unto you. With my own hand have I written this word, and in my pleasure have I caused to be engraven upon this stone, here to be erected to my honor and glory forever. Here is my holy, consecrated ground, and here I have my chosen people. So praise, honor, and worship me, the God of their salvation. Here I have caused a living fountain of holy waters to flow, to refresh the thirsty children of men, and for the healing of nations afar. So let him that will come and drink freely, and him that will, come and partake of the blessing I have prepared, saith the Giver of all good. But let the sojourned of this land, and the traveler that passeth this way, behold my doing with fear, and beware how they attempt to injure the work of my hand upon this holy ground. For whosover should mar this stone, or that which I have caused to be placed here, shall feel the justice of my fury to their shame, and in my own time I will bring a heavy curse upon them. For I am that I am, the Lord of Heaven and earth, the first and the last, and all powers is mine, and the same will I execute justly upon every soul of man. Therefore, behold ye my work with pleasure, and fear to disobey my commands, saith the Eternal Father and righteous Judge of all. Amen.”
The rituals, which sometimes lasted for hours, included singing, testimonies, marches, and a spiritual meal, in mime. The period of Mother Ann’s Work gradually dissipated as enthusiasm for the new practices waned and tensions between “instruments” and the Shaker leadership increased. In 1855, the Enfield Shakers removed the fountain stone and discontinued use of the Feast Ground.