127 responses to Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community
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    Andy White
    Comment on Our Amish Mennonite Church in the South (August 17th, 2015 at 06:43)

    Our Amish Mennonite Church in the South

    We are an Amish Mennonite Church, not Horse and Buggy, though not opposed to such in the area of Fredericksburg Texas, 40 miles west of San Antonio Texas. We are a newer group, a mix of conservative Amish Mennonites from that back ground and converts. Our group is unique in many ways including the fact that a few of our members are African Americans. We welcome all inquiries, visitors, and seekers.

    • Interesting, Andy. Thanks for sharing.

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      Oldkat
      Comment on Contact information (August 17th, 2015 at 15:07)

      Contact information

      Andy, could you tell me how to contact your group?

      From your comment: “We welcome all inquiries, visitors, and seekers”; I guess I am more of an enquirer than I am a seeker. That said you are located within the region where my Alsatian ancestors settled in Texas some 165 years ago, plus you are only about 160 miles from where I live so you have me curious about your group.

      Thanks,
      Stephen Rogers

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        Andy White
        Comment on contact info (August 17th, 2015 at 19:09)

        contact info

        greatergraceoffbg@yahoo.com
        Andy White

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        Andy White
        Comment on contact info (August 17th, 2015 at 19:10)

        contact info

        greatergraceoffbg@yahoo.com Is my email, thank you and I will be happy to help in any way that I can.
        Andy White

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    Carolyn B
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 17th, 2015 at 10:48)

    Good morning, all. Interesting post. Can’t wait for Anne’s update on Ed, Ruth, and the kids.

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    Nicholas
    Comment on Converts (August 17th, 2015 at 12:04)

    Converts

    Thanks for sharing this, Erik. It hits close to home, as I am a convert to a plain church myself. I don’t have any statistics, but I estimate that of all the plain Anabaptist groups, the German Baptist Brethren (GBs) have the highest number of converts. I suspect this is due to the use of English across the board (few know any German), and what appears to be a greater influence of more mainstream theology in certain areas (the Two Kingdom Doctrine is well maintained) such as views on assurance of salvation, greater acceptance of a pre-tribulation Rapture (rare in more traditional circles of Anabaptism, I believe), to name a few. I think this makes the transition easier for many.

    At the 2015 Anabaptist Identity Conference, Aaron Stoll, a brother to minister Caleb Stoll at the Unity, Maine, settlement asked a discussion panel about converts that don’t last. The panel stated something about a 75% failure rate for attempted converts to the plain churches. I can’t remember if they had any major reasons for this high rate. I think they suggested the high level of accountability as a major factor. I spoke to Aaron afterwords on this subject and had an insightful discussion. I didn’t share with him that I thought many that try to live plain are seeking a lifestyle, and not looking into the spiritual side of things as much as they should before taking the plunge. I was glad to see that brought out in today’s article. A minister friend and I discussed this after the conference, and he suggested the difficulty in yielding to the community as a factor, and that those who are “seekers” are often very independent thinkers. This makes giving up your individuality more difficult, and I agreed with him on that. From any converts you met while working in Amish communities, did you see any of these things, Erik? Maybe Anne or Don (Mark’s dad) could help provide insight.
    Thanks again, and peace be upon you.

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      Oldkat
      Comment on I think that you are correct (August 17th, 2015 at 15:24)

      I think that you are correct

      Nicolas,

      I have never investigated why people choose to join a plain Christian group or community, but from what I have seen here on AA and in other forums where the subject might come I think you are probably on point as to why so few make a successful transition to a plain life. When you wrote; “I didn’t share with him that I thought many that try to live plain are seeking a lifestyle, and not looking into the spiritual side of things as much as they should before taking the plunge” I thought to myself, “Yep, that is what it looks like to me.”

      Again, I have never made an in depth look into the subject, but on the surface most people seem to be after things such as “a simpler lifestyle” or “a quieter existence” than a desire to worship in a community of faith that is like minded. I could see how that would be difficult.

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    Nicholas
    Comment on PS (August 17th, 2015 at 12:09)

    PS

    PS-I forgot to mention that I know of one convert to the OO Amish who used to be some kind of Mennonite. He lives in Allen Co., IN. Perhaps you’ve run into him, Erik?

    • I believe I know who you mean, and have seen the home/business though I don’t think I’ve met in person. Last name Nolt? Someone knew the story there, I don’t remember if I read it here on the site or in my inbox.

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        Nicholas
        Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 18th, 2015 at 00:00)

        Yes, Erik, his name is David Nolt. If you are familiar with the large cabinet makers, Cabinets by Graber, he is a brother-in-law to the founder of that. I met David once very briefly and was told the story by someone who knew him. It is also in Bernd Längin’s book, “Plain and Amish.”

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    Amish girl – Rebecca
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 17th, 2015 at 14:10)

    Some are successful, some not, I think it has much to do with the seeker’s personality, reasons for joining, and perseverance. And I agree with Nicholas that those who are seeking for spiritual reasons rather than the lifestyle are more likely to make it. Idealists have a harder time, because they want to adapt the Amish church to their ideals, instead of adapting themselves to the church. It would be best to check things out from all angles before committing. Also if one community doesn’t work, maybe another will, but it wouldn’t be good to keep hopping around to find the perfect church, THERE IS NO PERFECT church on earth.

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      Verity Pink
      Comment on "Perfect Church" (August 17th, 2015 at 19:33)

      "Perfect Church"

      I think it might have been Spurgeon who said “If you find a perfect church, don’t join it – you’ll spoil it!”
      I remember how liberating it was to realise that the Revelation promise that “the Bride will be without spot or wrinkle” actually implied that there are rather a lot of both right now. Not that that’s a good reason to add some extra ones myself, but it does help one to have realistic expectations.

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    Rich Stevick
    Comment on Amish converts' attrition level (August 17th, 2015 at 15:59)

    Amish converts' attrition level

    According to an informal report done by converts who were part of an Amish converts’ circle letter, 300 “outsiders” had joined the Amish in the 30 or 40 years leading up to Y2K. This data was based on surveys of written records and by interviewing both Amish and converts. This informal study group concluded that 100 of the 300 remained Amish. The convert who shared this information with me has subsequently divorced his Amish wife and left the church. The Amish who knew him believed that the man “was more Amish than we are . . . ,”, i.e., that the church failed to live up to the ideals that the convert expected. Whatever the reason, I encourage English people who profess interest in joining the Amish to proceed with caution. The hurdles are not impossible but are certainly daunting for most people like us. Rich Stevick, from Growing Up Amish: The Rumspringa Years.

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    Carol
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 17th, 2015 at 21:43)

    Not trying to be funny, but it seems that to be a successful convert would require a personality that did not know that the word “why” exists.That is why I see many cult-like situations in the literature I have read on the Amish.

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      Osiah Horst
      Comment on Why (August 22nd, 2015 at 09:34)

      Why

      Why should not be a bad word, but coming from a young person or a seeker can be extremely challenging for someone who is not as confident as he should be. Or perhaps I should have said trusting.

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    Jonathan Edwards
    Comment on From another angle... (August 17th, 2015 at 23:29)

    From another angle...

    There is quite a bit of truth in Curtis Duff’s assessment of why some converts don’t remain Amish. Excessive idealism is a frequent stumbling stone because it takes a bit of idealism to draw the person away from mainstream society and into the Amish orbit.

    The dismal success rate of converts is widely known and the Amish frequently absolve themselves of responsibility by saying things like “There is no perfect church on earth!” or “After all, we’re just human!” At face value, these statements are clearly true and seem to make sense. However, I believe there is more than meets the eye.

    First, all good Anabaptists have a two-kingdom theology of sorts. This was articulated as early as the Schleitheim Confession of 1527 and its implications spelled out in the Dordrecht Confession of Faith (1632) that many Amish congregations continue to use for baptismal instruction. The Anabaptists separated from (and the Amish remain separate from) other denominations because they considered other groups too sinful, too compromised with the world.

    Second, this belief in the rightness or purity of their group is put into action when they excommunicate a member for leaving the Amish/Amish-Mennonite world. People can say what they want about the Amish. However, one thing should be beyond doubt–they believe they lead more righteous lives than those outside their community. Otherwise, they would not use the Bann the way they do. In light of this, comments such as “There is no perfect church” and “After all, we’re just humans” don’t make much sense. They do believe they are something more than just the average human being. Otherwise, there would be no need for practicing separation, or reinforcing the communal boundary with the use of the Bann.

    Third, as noted in the article on Curtis Duff, the Amish regularly require twice the amount of proving time for converts as would be expected from someone raised Amish. There is a very clear message in this. The walls around this “city” are very tall because something within those walls needs to be guarded. Why? Because what is inside those walls is very dear. Because more consideration is given to what is inside the walls, a value judgment is implied.

    Fourth, if a person raised Amish does something wild (steals from a neighbor or conceives a child out of wedlock…or take your pick of bad things that human beings have done) they will be put in the Bann for six weeks, make a kneeling confession, and go on with life. They will probably never hear about the incident again. However, if a prospective convert did anything of this sort they would probably never be admitted to the church. At best, they would be put on proving for multiple years. (In other words, the ministers would probably do everything they could to chase the person away without explicitly coming out and saying that is what they are trying to do.) I have heard Amish persons say things like ‘You see, they come from the world. They do those kinds of things there and this person will never get that out of his/her system.’

    Fifth, by and large Amish ministers preach “perfection.” Converts just tend to be more consistent in applying what is being taught (I am not trying to say that they are ‘holier’ or more righteous or anything like that but rather that they are more likely to follow the message to its logical outcome). So statements like “There is no perfect church” or “After all, we’re just human” don’t make any sense to me because the Amish don’t believe such things, at least this is not what their sermons and actions clearly imply.

    And finally, there have been times when the Amish have not extended love and grace at the point it was most needed–during the proving period.

    This is not to say that prospective converts are faultless, or that the Amish are terribly inconsistent Christians. It is only to point out several (overlooked) reasons that some converts fail. I trust readers will take these comments as they are meant, not as sharp criticism of the Amish but a take on things from another angle.

    I thought Curtis Duff gave a nice explanation of why some converts fail. I hope my comments will be taken in the manner.

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      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 20th, 2015 at 16:42)

      Growing up within the Amish church I can not say I agree with most of what has been said here. While it may be true for some Amish groups (I don’t know) it is not my experience that we don’t believe “There is no perfect church” and “And after all, we’re just human”. We hear it often and we believe it. Otherwise I would be very sad, because I know many people who are not Amish, but devout Christians and I would be very sad if I would think that our way is the only right way, because I hope to meet many of these people from various backgrounds and denominations someday. And I don’t believe you understand the reason for the Bann. It’s not used because the ministry, elders think they are better than others. I know it has been misused by those in authority, but that is not the norm. The shunning/bann has also been very wrongly portrayed and misunderstood by the outside world.
      Also, I’m not saying this might not be true from another perspective, but just that as an Amish person growing up and choosing to be a member of the Amish church and observing converts both successful and not I have not found it so. Respectfully, Rebecca

      • "There is no perfect church" and "After all, we're just humans" as existential crutches, and imbalanced explanations of failed conversions

        In this comment, I intend to make two fundamental points: a) “There is no perfect church” and “After all, we’re just humans” often come across as existential crutches, especially since they do not seem to substantially inform Amish practice; and b) explanations for failed conversions are frequently imbalanced (with the imbalance falling in favor of the Amish rather than the prospective convert).

        I will begin by surveying the use of the Bann among the Amish.

        First, the Swartzentruber and Abe Miller people use the Bann against anyone going to another group, even if the other group is extremely conservative Amish.

        Then you have the Kenton, Abe Troyer, most Swiss communities, and Andy Weaver Amish who Bann a member for going too “high” among the Amish.

        Next are the Streng Meidung Amish who fellowship with non-Streng Meidung Amish–and thus are not allowed to fellowship with the Andy Weavers–such as Lancaster and Somerset (PA), Windsor and Dixon (MO), the materially progressive Swiss Amish not included above, etc etc etc. This is a very long list…

        Then you have the Arthur (IL) settlement which is rather progressive Old Order Amish and has come up with a unique option which states that a member will be put in the Bann for leaving the Amish but if they join an Amish-Mennonite church the Bann will be lifted six months later and then it is up to individual members whether or not they want to shun the person(s) who left.

        And finally we come to the most progressive Old Orders in Northern Indiana and Holmes County and scattered settlements–plus New Orders everywhere–who allow a member to go Amish-Mennonite without shunning the member for leaving. But even these groups do not allow a member to go to a church which does not uphold the Six Fundamentals agreed upon in the Dienerversammlung held in either Northern Indiana or Arthur (I cannot remember where it was held). These points include non-resistance, non-conformity to the world, the woman’s head covering, feet washing, etc.

        The only congregations that *might not* put a member in the Bann for going to a congregation that does not uphold these fundamentals is the one in Rosebush (MI), plus the New New Orders in Holmes County. But even if they do not Bann a person under such circumstances (though they would certainly Bann them under *some* circumstances) they only account for about ten out of 2,119 church districts.

        With the empirical data now behind us, I don’t see how these facts would alter any of the points made in my previous comment. In fact, the above-mentioned fundamentals are further evidence that the Amish believe in the rightness of their way. I am not suggesting that elders believe they are better than others but that the congregation considers itself as being on the “true path.”

        The Bann strongly implies the congregation believes the erring member stands outside the Kingdom of God because the bishop invokes Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 5:5 when he expels the erring member from the congregation — “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” What am I missing here?

        I agree that most Amish persons believe that there is no perfect church, in the sense that they see the weaknesses of fellow members. This is inevitable for persons living in community. What I am suggesting is that many don’t believe it strongly enough to apply this standard when dealing with outsiders wanting to join their group (Why expect near perfection from them while claiming that no church is perfect?) and don’t “get” the logic (or therefore lack of) when disciplining a member for leaving their group, if they actually believe that they are “just” human.

        As readers will note in Mark Curtis’ comment (posted by his father Don), not once did he mention how the Amish might contribute to failed conversions. This is evidence for point #2–there is a regular imbalance in how people talk about failed converts which falls clearly in favor of the Amish.

        To put the point a bit more bluntly, the “There is no perfect church” and “After all, we’re just humans” come across more as excuses for failings within Amish churches than real logic that informs Amish practice. This is the crux of the point I was wanting to make but I had been hoping to make it a bit more discreetly.

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          Mark – Holmes Co.
          Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 21st, 2015 at 09:07)

          I do not feel the Amish expect more of a convert than we would from anyone raised Amish. In fact I have seen cases where the convert was “given more rope” because local people felt the convert’s background naturally meant they were not going to get things done or act in a way everyone else would. For an example, a guy we know who joined the Amish in a group somewhat more conservative than ours and he regularly traveled with his family in their private car where others traveled only by bus or train for family trips. I’m sure this can be different from one group or community to the next, but that’s how I see it.

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        Mark – Holmes Co.
        Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 21st, 2015 at 08:21)

        Good points, Rebecca.

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        Andy
        Comment on please explain the proper purpose, and administration of the Ban (August 21st, 2015 at 08:38)

        please explain the proper purpose, and administration of the Ban

        I have seen a lot of different attitudes and thoughts and applications of the Ban and other teachings spoken of as “Amish”. I think that each person and each congregation truly believes they are right. Even those which others as well as myself would say abuse the Ban probably are thinking of it as doing what they see as right.
        I would like to hear your thoughts on the Ban Rebecca, if you would like to share this with us.

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        Osiah Horst
        Comment on Amen (August 22nd, 2015 at 09:50)

        Amen

        Very well said, Rebecca.

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    Tia
    Comment on Apologies (August 18th, 2015 at 10:38)

    Apologies

    Johnathan Edwards seemed to be on a role with his comments. He stated facts, but then apologized for his critique. That mere action suggests a fear of being judged or possibly ousted by those he stated don’t hold themselves as “holier than thou.” Why can’t people speak truths without apologies?

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    Andy
    Comment on great thread! (August 19th, 2015 at 11:40)

    great thread!

    I am enjoying the honesty in this thread!

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    Don Curtis
    Comment on Mark's response (August 19th, 2015 at 13:32)

    Mark's response

    I asked my son, Mark, who joined the Amish and has been Amish for about thirteen years, now, about his observations on people who have become Amish and then leave. Some of his thoughts on folks he has known:
    – They didn’t do their homework. They hadn’t researched the Amish and spent enough time to really understand the Amish beliefs and culture.’
    – Joined for the wrong reason. The Amish are not an escape from your own family turmoil or unsuccssful life.
    – Failed expectations. Mark said he has seen some folks with very strong personalities who were offended when the Amish wouldn’t conform to their concept of how the Amish should be.
    – Following children out of the church who decided to leave the Amish.
    – Converts who were unable to make connections in the church and felt unaccepted.

    Anyway, those are some of Mark’s thoughts.

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    Don Curtis
    Comment on Reflections on Jonathan's Edward's comments (August 21st, 2015 at 12:46)

    Reflections on Jonathan's Edward's comments

    First of all I would like to comment that verbosity does not make a statement true.
    Secondly, Jonathan, you are selecting small incidents and making broad and sweeping generalizations. Many of which are just not true. For example, you state: “there have been times when the Amish have not extended love and grace when it was most needed, during the proving time.” What does this mean? When was this done. Are you concluding that all Amish churches do not extend love and grace to converts during proving time? Does this happen some of the time? Or do you have personal experience and felt that you were not loved when you should have been?
    Do you have a personal ax to grind against the Amish, Jonathan? If so you should be honest and state it so.
    You seem to have a great deal of knowledge about the Amish. More than the typical English. Were you once Amish? Were you a convert that failed? Are you using this website to get back at those that hurt you? I tink you should be honest and up front about your motivations for all of your negative posting about the Amish.

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      Just Curious
      Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 21st, 2015 at 14:10)

      Jonathan, are you the editor of JAPAS or affiliated with it?

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        Jonathan Edwards
        Comment on Hi! (August 21st, 2015 at 14:31)

        Hi!

        Hi “Just Curious”! I am glad to make your acquaintance. I look forward to reading any comments you might post in this thread about the substance of this discussion.

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        John S.
        Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 25th, 2015 at 11:40)

        Sounds more like C.P. to me!

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      Jonathan Edwards
      Comment on I agree (August 21st, 2015 at 14:24)

      I agree

      I agree that verbosity does not make a statement true. With that said, I welcome interaction with the substance (not just the form) of what I have written.

      The latest response leaves me scratching my head. I do not understand why someone would be offended with what I have posted in this thread. There are certainly a wide range of opinions and practices among the Amish but I still think there are observable patterns and that these patterns merit rational explanation.

      Just earlier Tia thought that I backed up and apologized after “speaking the truth.” Now someone feels that I was knocking the Amish. I am not sure how I could possibly please everyone. All I can do is to apologize and ask for the patience of anyone who might feel offended at what I have written.

      Whether the Amish expect more from converts than those who grew up Amish, I didn’t imagine anyone would dispute the point. Perhaps my friends are not reliable sources but they are strikingly nonchalant about noting that requirements for joining are really tough. An Andy Weaver friend put the proving period for an outsider that progresses rapidly at 3-5 years, six to ten times as long as it takes for a person raised Andy Weaver to become a full member of a congregation. Every situation is different (as Mark noted earlier) but I still think there is a discernible pattern for prospective converts.

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        MW
        Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 22nd, 2015 at 10:46)

        Let’s not overlook a few things here. Someone born & raised Amish has been exposed to the teachings and expectations their entire life. The weeks they are in the instruction classes are the so called “proving period” but these are people steeped in the culture, fluent in the language, and very likely taking a step they have been moving towards most of their lives. Asking a convert to take 3-5 years to acclimate themselves, develop fluency in the language, and get to know the ins & outs of their chosen church community is not only doing the prospective convert a favor, there is the underlying realization that many who want to join or actually do join an Amish church, do not stay long. There are some who do, but in our area most who join are gone within a year or two. If the Amish seem gun-shy about baptizing converts right away, let’s remember they see baptism as a serious and life-long commitment not to be taken lightly. After several experiences with enthused converts who then lose interest and leave (thereby being subject to excommunication) a tendency to proceed slowly is understandable.
        Another thought I’ve been tossing around since reading this is the issue of not feeling accepted or included. I’m not doubting it, but let’s not forget that for many of these would-be converts, the separation from the larger society is a big drawing card. Naturally Amish society is somewhat insular. I’m not saying converts should be met with a cold shoulder, but entering into a society where everyone knows everyone else and has for a lifetime and family relations are very strong, feeling the odd man out is inevitable. There is also the fact that many Amish people will find it a challenge to connect with someone whose background is so radically different. Once you’ve exhausted the “how old are your parents, do you have siblings” train, what are you going to latch on to as common ground? A convert is basically starting life all over with their former life not being relevant. I am over over simplifying there, but that’s how it seems. I am reminded of a couple who joined the Amish but later left. The wife had degrees in engineering and chemistry. She found the Amish women had little in common with her & vice versa and “failed” to stimulate her intellectually.
        Those seeking to join Beachy or Mennonite churches might find it easier. Those who try to join an Amish church need to understand there are going to be serious challenges and the would-be convert is also, whether they realize it or not, making quite a demand on the immediate community as they try to help, try to teach the language, try to understand and accept. There are communities & individuals who will try their utmost to help a convert, but I have also seen those people or communities become less enthused after several failed attempts. I’m not defending anyone or criticizing anyone, just trying to state the facts as I see them.

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          Jonathan Edwards
          Comment on Non-partisan comment (August 22nd, 2015 at 11:34)

          Non-partisan comment

          Thank you for the non-partisan comment.

          The mentality evident in this post is evidence of what I have been talking about. Over the past day or so some folks seem to be upset with me for suggesting that the Amish aren’t always wonderful to prospective converts. Although much less frequently found among the New Order Amish, I think this mentality is quite common, actually the norm, among most Amish groups. Perhaps I am wrong here?

          On the other hand, it seems that this situation is far from the joy of incorporating new believers into the Christian community that I find on the pages of the New Testament.

          I wish things would be different.

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            MW
            Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 22nd, 2015 at 14:56)

            Yes, I would say it is wrong to infer the Amish are less than helpful or welcoming to prospective converts. Suggesting New Orders might be more accommodating sounds fair, but don’t overlook the fact a New Order group might be much more intense in their questioning of the convert’s faith and scriptural knowledge and less inclined to be tolerant of lapses in what might be considered inappropriate language, behavior, or attitude. Expecting an Amish church to know how to deal with or help a convert is about as realistic as expecting the convert to instinctively know how to fit in. Both sides have expectations that may not be understood by the other. (And I’m using “sides” simply for lack of a better term.)

            “On the other hand, it seems that this situation is far from the joy of incorporating new believers into the Christian community that I find on the pages of the New Testament.”
            I disagree. I have seen situations where the joy felt by the Amish at someone wishing to join is quite evident, but colored by the confusion of not knowing how to help them. There really is not an easy answer here. If the Amish start changing their society and culture to accommodate converts, where should the line be drawn? And if the community starts making concessions, paradoxically the converts so often want to go somewhere else where it’s more traditional.

            This brings up another point. Converts tend to want to go to the most conservative group they can find. This raises a red flag to Amish people. If the would-be convert is more concerned with big hat brims and oil-lamps etc. than the moral climate, teaching of salvation, and church harmony, the average Amish person begins to mentally question the prospective convert’s sincerity or commitment to actual beliefs.

            Another point is the convert who treats the whole thing as an educational study, or, worse yet, intends to write a book, publish a paper, or otherwise capitalize on the experience. Because this has happened, it might be part of why some Amish people are rather reticent with a would-be convert. No one likes to feel they’ve been used as part of a research project when all they wanted was to help someone professing to share their beliefs.

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              Andy
              Comment on What about Jesus? (August 22nd, 2015 at 15:17)

              What about Jesus?

              One thing is missing in all of this…Jesus.
              Amishness, how ever that is defined in any particular instance, really isn’t the issue for new seekers being treated with love and respect and a welcoming attitude. The reality you described is fairly realistic as is Johnathan Eduards depending on personal experience and clearly differing frames of thought.
              The things such as culture that hinder us all, are barriers which Jesus Christ tore down. Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” We are to fix our gaze on Jesus, and present the Gospel and live the Gospel. Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

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              Jonathan Edwards
              Comment on Thoughts (August 23rd, 2015 at 01:14)

              Thoughts

              I think it is fair to say that more than half of Old Order Amish churches flatly turn away prospective converts at the door, actively discourage them from trying to join. Just to mention a few communities…St. Marys County (MD), Branch County (MI), Ashland (OH), Smicksburg (PA), and Allen County (IN). It is not that you wouldn’t find individuals who would be willing to help. However, the vast majority of people avoid, if not actively discourage, prospective converts. And it takes an ‘Enige Rote’ for a convert to join, save one. To most normal people that looks like climbing Mt. Everest. (As a side note, I don’t think that’s how early converts felt about Christianity; early Christian practice is more normative among the Brethren but still plays a prominent role in the Martyr’s Mirror)

              Second, imagine going over to a new community and at the door they tell you that most converts don’t make it. If they welcome you to visit their church, they recount all of the not-so-great things that happened when prospective converts have tried to join in their area (plus sometimes stories of what happened in other areas). If you still desire to join the Amish, then the community would put you on a 3-5 year proving period. Much more could be added but I’ll leave it there. Imagine throwing away everything from your old life only to be put on a 3-5 year proving period. Seriously. Think about stopping your life for 3-5 years to allow a local community to watch you and see if you are good enough to become one of them. I am not talking about some other person going through this. I am talking about you. Put yourself in their shoes. Stop you life, put all of your plans on hold for 3-5 years. Consider what it feels like to live in limbo for 36-60 months, not a member of the community and not sure if they will accept you. And if you are successful, you will be admitted to a group where people say “After all, we’re only humans!” To state the obvious, it is completely outrageous. I cannot think that raising and raising and raising expectations is the solution to failed conversions. In fact, it inevitably raises prospective converts’ expectations and thus makes them more likely to experience disappointment when they finally join church and sit through council meetings and realize everything that goes on in the church and later hear…”Didn’t we tell you we’re only human?!?”

              Perhaps the most obvious evidence that the Amish are not the most welcoming to outsiders is the fact that the “star” community of Lancaster County (to the best of my knowledge, and I think this was noted elsewhere recently) has not had a successful convert in the past 100 years. They draw millions of tourists every year but have not had a single successful convert. I do not deny that converts have person issues, but seriously, the Lancaster Amish are welcoming to prospective converts and striving to integrate them into the community?

              I am afraid that I have been too negative. My goal has been to provide a fuller picture of the situation. Where I have offended, I ask for your grace and patience and want to be open for correction.

              • *
                MW
                Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 24th, 2015 at 06:49)

                Yes, I think this is an overly negative view. Mentioning Lancaster reminds me of another point. Few born & raised Amish from other Amish communities find it easy to move into a Lancaster type community and successfully feel at home. The very strong work drive, very organized community life and youth group structure are intimidating to other Amish.

                But as one who chose to leave the larger society and join the Amish — the cons you mentioned were merely stepping stones. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth persevering. And my fellow “seekers” who have found a home and place among the Amish would likely agree. Based on my own experiences and conversation with others, I think you are painting a very negative picture of it. I think I can use that little phrase here — been there, done that.

                It’s true there is a wide variety of communities & fellowships. Doing one’s homework and choosing a community wisely is key. The ones you mentioned might not be the best choices for reasons other than their chilly welcome.

                I did not see the “proving period” as a test to see if I was “good enough” and the help and encouragement I received during that time was very much appreciated. During the second year I started really questioning myself, not just my choice. I learned a lot about myself and my beliefs and grew a lot in that period both in my spiritual life and my personal life. I don’t regret it at all. This may be another reason many converts fail — impatience. Anyone willing to give up their society & culture to join the Amish should surely be strong enough and mature enough to be patient.

                I once heard an Amish man tell a prospective convert — “Joining us will not ‘save’ you; that must come through your relationship with Christ and if you decide to build that relationship within your own culture, I will think no less of you.” And that’s what it all comes down to: not speedy membership, enthusiastic welcomes, or acceptance.

                • *
                  Andy
                  Comment on Clarification (August 24th, 2015 at 07:11)

                  Clarification

                  Essentially, it seems, and I want to ask to be sure, that for you personally, joining your particular Amish Church was not a “conversion” of faith but of culture?

                  • *
                    MW
                    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 24th, 2015 at 07:25)

                    Both. A conversion of faith that turned into a conversion of culture. My first exposure to New Testament teachings was through an Amish man.

                    • *
                      Andy
                      Comment on what a difference reaching out has made! (August 24th, 2015 at 09:27)

                      what a difference reaching out has made!

                      The very point JE makes you summarize in a single sentence! An Amish man reached out to you and shared New Testament faith. This is wonderful and look at the result! You are a convert in the real sense and it made everything else worth the effort. If all of us in the Amish and Mennonite Churches would do the same then our churches would truly be pleasing in the sight of the Lord. I am convinced by your writing that you would welcome me and accept me if I showed up at your door, and that is without question a part of loving our neighbor as Jesus loves us. These things cannot be seperated where New Testament Christianity is present.

                    • *
                      MW
                      Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 24th, 2015 at 10:48)

                      A slight clarification: I reached out to him, but he was open to talking with me & he shared a lot.

              • *
                TJ
                Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 24th, 2015 at 13:48)

                It sounds like you have personal experience in either trying to join the Amish or actually joining. I’m struggling with the use of the words “that’s outrageous.” Trying to join any group and then using terms like that when their standards are not what you feel they should be is not going to garner a lot of sympathy or support. The idea someone could live with the Amish for 3-5 years, as you wrote, then be shocked at human nature being exposed during council church seems really far-fetched, but that’s just my opinion. I mean I live among the Amish and I see their human side, the positive and the negative both, like in ANY group of mortals. The Amish I know personally and intimately are not out seeking converts to the Amish church, but I have seen them minister to those seeking for answers and personally know of people they have guided towards joining churches other than the Amish where they might find a better fit. To quote one Amish friend, “Just because it’s our way, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way.” If a person is determined to join the Amish, they are going to have to accept doing it the Amish way and not go in and start criticizing or pushing for change.

                • *
                  Mark – Holmes Co.
                  Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 24th, 2015 at 14:25)

                  You made some good points, TJ.

                  • *
                    Jonathan Edwards
                    Comment on Drawing together the diverse threads (August 24th, 2015 at 17:24)

                    Drawing together the diverse threads

                    This thread has branched out in a variety of interrelated directions. To return to the original point…when identifying the various reasons that seekers have failed to join the Amish, it would seem appropriate to also note a few ways that the Amish have failed these seekers. When there are problems in a relationship, it is rarely the case that one party deserves all the blame. This point should not be controversial; it should not prompt anyone to leap to the defense of the Amish.

                    Quite a few comments engage in “special pleading.” The term “special pleading” has a very specific meaning here. In logic it is defined as an attempt to cite something as an exception to a generally accepted rule or principle without justifying the exception.

                    The most obvious example of special pleading is MW’s appeal to the necessity of reducing turnover rates as justification for a lengthy proving period. Reducing turnover rates is not sufficient justification for violating the equality of persons (Acts 10) by withholding membership from persons who are accepted by God, as spelled out in Holy Scripture.

                    It was very interesting to learn that MW trained himself to think of the proving period as a not-proving-period, in fact a time for spiritual growth. I commend him highly for his wisdom and ingenuity. Unfortunately, his ability to deceive himself (I am not suggesting a moral failing here; but it does qualify as a form of self-deception) doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed a proving period. Nor does it change the fact that such lengthy proving periods tend to be more harmful than helpful. Here is an interesting parallel from the Acts of the Apostles:

                    “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.”

                    There are at least three significant words in this text: subverting, consolation, and peace. The Gentile Christians felt subverted by the demands and exclusion. After the situation was set right, the Gentile believers experienced consolation. And Judas and Silas were able to leave in peace. I think there are some interesting parallels here.

                    A text which is applicable in certain similar circumstances is Galatians 4:17: “Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them.” It seems the point of the extended proving period is to make a person more zealous for the Amish. I find the methodology slightly troubling.

                    Next, MW noted that even other Amish persons have a difficult time fitting into Lancaster County. This is certainly not a point that weakens my thesis. If I had been arguing that the Amish “pick on” outsiders or just try to make it hard for them to join, then this fact might have been significant. But my basic premise is that their practices (and underlying doctrine of the church) seem a bit off the mark. So MW’s points toward the need for ecclesiological reflection.

                    Okay, I know what some people (especially the post-modernists in the room) are thinking: Who is he to critique the Amish? My response is simple: For all that the Amish are glorified on this site, I think we can venture into their foibles a little bit.

                    If people wouldn’t run to their rescue so quickly and defend them to the Nth degree then things probably wouldn’t get so rowdy around here! :)

                    In spite of MW’s heartwarming experience with the Amish (I am being serious here; I was glad to read his account), we still have to go by the facts because there is a difference between weather and climate. So to the facts we now turn…

                    The largest Amish settlement in America (Lancaster Co.) has no converts; the Swartzentrubers are not very welcoming to outsiders; New Wilmington & Mifflin Co. & Indiana Co. & Allen Co. & strict Swiss Amish are rarely very open to seekers; the Andy Weaver Amish and other strict shunning communities spread across America have a reputation for giving the cold shoulder; and then there are the mixed receptions seekers experience in larger communities. The affiliation which regularly welcomes outsiders is the Michigan Circle. But they remain a very small minority within the larger picture. So I believe there are significant hurdles prospective converts face, many of which are self-imposed but some of which are not, and some of which are simply the result of sinful conduct by Amish persons, and that such hurdles are part of the bigger picture.

                    I cannot help but get the feeling that some people on this site consider the Amish perfect, or at least above reproach in all things. This view is completely unrealistic.

                    My comments were limited to presenting the other side of the story. If I had been trying to paint a balanced picture of the Amish, I would agree that my comments have been too negative. My primary concern with presenting the other side of the story (hence the reason that I am concerned that I might have been too negative) is that some folks will inevitably overreact in the opposite direction.

                    And to return to the story that prompted this thread, Curtis and Daisy are super nice people. Curtis has more of the laid back rural attitude which has helped him become well integrated into the New (New) Order Amish community in Oakland, Maryland. I wish them, and everyone else here at AA, the very best!

                  • *
                    Jonathan Edwards
                    Comment on Drawing together diverse threads (August 24th, 2015 at 17:53)

                    Drawing together diverse threads

                    I will try to bring diverse threads together in this post.

                    To return to the original point, when noting the various reasons that seekers have failed to join the Amish, it would seem appropriate to also note a few ways that the Amish failed these seekers. When there are problems in a relationship, it is rarely the case that one party deserves all the blame. This point should not be controversial; it shouldn’t have prompted so many people to leap to the defense of the Amish.

                    Perhaps it is time to abandon this thread. It seems that comments are veering even further from logical coherence; quite a few comments are examples of “special pleading.” The term “special pleading” has a very specific meaning here. In logic it is defined as an attempt to cite something as an exception to a generally accepted rule or principle without justifying the exception.

                    The most obvious example of special pleading is MW’s appeal to the necessity of reducing turnover rates as justification for a lengthy proving period. Reducing turnover rates is not sufficient justification for violating the equality of persons (Acts 10) by withholding membership from persons who are accepted by God, as spelled out in Holy Scripture.

                    It was very interesting to learn that MW trained himself to think of the proving period as a not-proving-period, in fact a time for spiritual growth. I commend him highly for his wisdom and ingenuity. Unfortunately, MW’s ability to deceive himself (I am not suggesting a moral failing here; but it does qualify as a form of self-deception) doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed a proving period. Nor does it change the fact that such lengthy proving periods tend to be more harmful than helpful. Here is an example from the Acts of the Apostles:

                    “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.”

                • *
                  Jonathan Edwards
                  Comment on TJ (August 25th, 2015 at 19:40)

                  TJ

                  ‘I’m struggling with the use of the words “that’s outrageous.”’

                  I can understand that you would struggle with the death and carnage that resulted from the Thirty Years’ War. I can understand that you would struggle with the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. But I can’t understand why “that’s outrageous” would cause a struggle.

                  ‘The idea someone could live with the Amish for 3-5 years, as you wrote, then be shocked at human nature being exposed during council church seems really far-fetched…’

                  I should have been more careful in what I wrote. People normally become increasingly ware of the inconsistencies over time.

                  ‘…I live among the Amish and I see their human side, the positive and the negative both, like in ANY group of mortals.’

                  If they have so much in common with any group of mortals, then what sets them apart from the rest? The doctrine of the church that seems to undergird most of the comments in this thread strikes me as unorthodox. The running theme has been that everyone needs to get out of the way when the Amish decide to do something. Where is God in this picture?

    • *
      Anonymous
      Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 21st, 2015 at 14:29)

      I just brought this up with a man I know who is a convert to the Old Order Amish. He got really irate! He says he was treated with kindness and encouragement and looking back after over his years (over 18 years) with the Amish he understands just how patient they were with him and sometimes he is almost embarrassed to realize just how much they must have been willing to overlook or endure. He says there were “many times” he felt like giving up but the efforts of his community and their support gave him the encouragement to carry on. In his own words, blaming the Amish for a convert’s failure is a “cop out.”

      • *
        Jonathan Edwards
        Comment on Glad tidings of great joy (August 21st, 2015 at 14:55)

        Glad tidings of great joy

        I am glad to hear of this convert’s experience. It is always beneficial to hear about grace and love being shared between God’s children.

        There is certainly room within my theoretical framework for such experiences because I was tracing (general) patterns. As everyone already knows, there are considerable differences between groups and within communities, not to mention a multitude of differences between individuals within the same congregation! In spite of these variations, the general pattern remains true.

        After all, there is a difference between weather and climate.

        • *
          Osiah Horst
          Comment on Assumptions (August 22nd, 2015 at 09:46)

          Assumptions

          Jonathan, there is so much I would like to say in response to your posts. I suggest that much of what you write has an element of truth but is mostly assumptions. You do have considerably more information at your finger tips than I do but I would like to suggest that what you are presenting is hypothesis. Hypothesis and fact are related somewhat like weather and climate.

          • *
            Jonathan Edwards
            Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 22nd, 2015 at 09:51)

            Simply trying to write of what I have posted in one pithy sentence is suggestive. Nevertheless, I welcome interaction with the substance of what I have written.

    • *
      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 25th, 2015 at 17:03)

      Don, You make some good points, as an Amish person I do not even have all those facts. But speaking from my Holmes County Old order experience and knowing converts both successful and not so successful, I can’t say that i agree with much of it.

      • *
        Andy
        Comment on Thank you to everyone in this thread (August 25th, 2015 at 17:18)

        Thank you to everyone in this thread

        This is what is difficult but healthy, I have learned things just reading the conversation that I did not expect to learn. I pray we all have patience wen each other’s perspective doesn’t line up with another’s. In the end we answer to Jesus, our Saviour and our Judge. Apart from
        him
        We can do nothing and what we do outside of His will will burn up as wood hay and stubble. I see sincerity in every post here and though the views and experiences seem almost in opposition at times, there has been a civility in this conversation that does not always accompany such differing perspectives. Once again thank you all and may the Lord bless everyone with His mercy and grace and lead us to be pleasing in His sight.

  • *
    Carole
    Comment on Feeling Left Out (August 21st, 2015 at 15:23)

    Feeling Left Out

    I subscribe to an Amish magazine for women although I’m not Amish. One time a convert wrote in that her children felt left out because the other children preferred to play with their cousins and other relatives. The mother felt excluded because the other women were naturally closer to their relatives. This is a problem not easily solved.

  • *
    Andy
    Comment on Left Out (August 22nd, 2015 at 08:30)

    Left Out

    These issues are real. As a person in an Amish Mennonite Church I tell you from personal experience that I have see the good, the very good, the excellent, the bad, the very bad and the terrible…. the same as in the World.
    The UTMOST IMPORTANT THING is open and honest communication. It doesn’t matter how bad it is or how good it is.
    The old story about the King who had no clothes is an appropriate comparison. The King rode in a Parade naked while his tailor professed to have made him the most wonderful clothing in all the land. The people feared the King so they lied and praised the King for his wonderful clothes until at last a small child, looking a bit confused, asked the King, “Why King, do you have no clothes on?” And the King realizing he had allowed himself to be made a fool of before the entire world, grew very red in the face and fled from the crowd.
    Right now there are Conferences, outreaches, “ministries” that are asking questions of the Amish and Mennonites from every direction, Books are coming out examining these issues, publications are writing articles often on just about everything to do with us.
    There is no avoiding the truth. God Himself will bring what is hid in the darkness out into the light.
    To be real, compassionate, repentant when the truth is we need to be, welcoming as Jesus is, loving our neighbor by the standard Jesus gives in John 15 “That ye love one another as I have loved you.”, and to be unreservedly true to God’s Holy Word is the way to bring healing and restoration, even if it be to only one person.
    my hope is that this thread would lead to more discussion of real issues within the Plain Churches until no one is fearful, no one feels the need to apologize, and every heart and every church is fulfilling the will of the Father, by the power of His grace in love for the Lord, His Gospel and our neighbors.

    • *
      Jonathan Edwards
      Comment on Nice contribution (August 22nd, 2015 at 09:43)

      Nice contribution

      An excellent contribution to this thread, a solid message of truth written without anger or fear. May the Lord be praised.

      • *
        Andy
        Comment on Amen (August 22nd, 2015 at 15:20)

        Amen

        Jonathan, what is JAPAS?

        • *
          Jonathan Edwards
          Comment on JAPAS (August 22nd, 2015 at 23:25)

          JAPAS

          JAPAS stands for the Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies.

          Erik usually posts on this site when a new issue is published.

          • *
            Andy
            Comment on thank you (August 22nd, 2015 at 23:38)

            thank you

            I recall this now. I sure do appreciate this!

            • *
              Jonathan Edwards
              Comment on No problem (August 24th, 2015 at 17:36)

              No problem

              You’re certainly welcome.

  • *
    Jonathan Edwards
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 24th, 2015 at 18:10)

    To return to the original point…when identifying the various reasons that seekers have failed to join the Amish, it would seem appropriate to also note a few ways that the Amish have failed these seekers. When there are problems in a relationship, it is rarely the case that one party deserves all the blame. This point should not be controversial.

    Quite a few comments engage in “special pleading.” In logic it is defined as an attempt to cite something as an exception to a generally accepted rule or principle without justifying the exception. The most obvious example of special pleading is MW’s appeal to the necessity of reducing turnover rates as justification for a lengthy proving period. Reducing turnover rates is not sufficient justification for violating the equality of persons (Acts 10) by withholding membership from persons who are accepted by God, as spelled out in Holy Scripture.

    It was very interesting to learn that MW trained himself to think of the proving period as a not-proving-period, in fact a time for spiritual growth. I commend him highly for his wisdom and ingenuity. Unfortunately, his ability to deceive himself (I am not suggesting a moral failing here; but it does qualify as a form of self-deception) doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed a proving period. Nor does it change the fact that such lengthy proving periods tend to be more harmful than helpful. Interesting parallels can be found in Acts 15:24-33.

    • *
      MW
      Comment on Proving Periods (August 25th, 2015 at 08:20)

      Proving Periods

      Maybe I should have added that after being with the Amish for just over 18 months, the ministry spoke to me about joining church. Another convert who had been in that community was planning to be in the instruction classes and I was asked if I felt I was ready. My longer “proving period” was MY choice. I did not feel I was ready and after telling the ministry this, they said they understood and respected that, but encouraged me not to “put it off” too long. Again, this was my choice. You may feel I was deceiving myself, but my decision to wait was one I felt was right at the time. The other convert who was baptized after being Amish for about two years left soon after. I don’t regret my decision to wait at all not because I feel it made me a better Amish person or because I felt I was proving myself, but because it allowed me time to grow in my faith and figure out who I was and where I needed to grow and what I needed to work on in my spiritual & personal life.

      This whole discussion reminds me very much of a young man who tried to join some of the communities Jonathan E. mentioned. People I know personally talked about their unease with him not because he was a convert, but because of his arrogant and demanding manner and his tendency to tell an established church what they should or should not be doing. Rather than look into more moderate, welcoming churches, he was determined to integrate into the more conservative groups, groups that even life-long Amish people from moderate or liberal groups might find it hard to fit in to.

      My comments are not to glorify the Amish — I have seen the human side, the struggles, failures, the ugly side, the human side, in other words –but to correct what sounds like an overly negative and unfair portrayal. There are at least 100 successful converts to Amish groups and in discussion with many of those whom I know personally and discussing our experiences, I feel there is a need to give a different view point.

      And I believe you are right — perhaps it is indeed time to abandon this thread. Obviously we are not likely to agree on this and rather than turn it into an argument, we should probably leave this thread and move on to other concerns.

      • *
        Jonathan Edwards
        Comment on MW (August 25th, 2015 at 17:48)

        MW

        It seems we are somewhat talking past each other. I don’t think our views are as dissimilar as they might appear at this moment. Although I don’t feel you have given sufficient attention to the substance of certain of my points, none of us are perfect and I sense a sincerity to discuss without becoming partisan. Because it seems we are spinning our wheels without going anywhere, I second the motion to abandon this thread. Consider these my parting blessings…”In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

  • *
    Jonathan Edwards
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 24th, 2015 at 18:11)

    There are at least three significant words in this text: subverting, consolation, and peace. The Gentile Christians felt subverted by the demands and exclusion. After the situation was set right, the Gentile believers experienced consolation. And Judas and Silas were able to leave in peace.

    And a text which is applicable in certain similar circumstances is Galatians 4:17: “Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them.” It seems the point of the extended proving period is to make a person more zealous for the Amish. I find the methodology troubling.

    Next, MW noted that even other Amish persons have a difficult time fitting into Lancaster County. This is certainly not a point that weakens my thesis. If I had been arguing that the Amish “pick on” outsiders or just try to make it hard for them to join, then this fact might have been significant. But my basic premise is that their practices (and underlying doctrine of the church) seem a bit off the mark.

    Okay, I know what some people (especially the post-modernists in the room) are thinking: Who is he to critique the Amish? My response is simple: For all that the Amish are glorified on this site, I think we can venture into their foibles a little bit.

  • *
    Jonathan Edwards
    Comment on Drawing together our diverse threads (August 24th, 2015 at 18:13)

    Drawing together our diverse threads

    The largest Amish settlement in America (Lancaster Co.) has no converts; the Swartzentrubers are not very welcoming to outsiders; New Wilmington & Mifflin Co. & Indiana Co. & Allen Co. & strict Swiss Amish are rarely very open to seekers; the Andy Weaver Amish and other strict shunning communities spread across America have a reputation for giving the cold shoulder; and then there are the mixed receptions seekers experience in larger communities. The affiliation which regularly welcomes outsiders is the Michigan Circle. But they remain a very small minority within the larger picture. So I believe there are significant hurdles prospective converts face, many of which are self-imposed but some of which are not, and that failings on the part of the Amish are part of the bigger picture.

    My comments were limited to presenting the other side of the story. If I had been trying to paint a balanced picture of the Amish, I would agree that my comments have been too negative.

    And to return to the story that prompted this thread, Curtis and Daisy are super nice people. Curtis has more of the laid back rural attitude which has helped him become well integrated into the New (New) Order Amish community in Oakland, Maryland. I would like to wish them, and everyone at AA, the very best! :)

  • *
    Don Curtis
    Comment on Hmmm. (August 25th, 2015 at 15:45)

    Hmmm.

    Jonathan, you have been asked several times to explain yourself and your in depth information on the Amish. Every tie you side-step the issue and avoid answering. You speak of truth. Is it truthful to criticiae the Amish if you have a personal ax to grind and are not really coming from a non-partisan perspective.
    As far as proving goes, when Mark joined the Amish he moved up in October of 2002. They asked him to keep his caer over the winter and make sure this was what he wanted to do. Then, in the spring of 1003 he put he car away and joined the Instruction Class. He wss baptized in the fall of 2003 and joined the church.
    I guess I must rebuke Mark’s Amish brethren for their lack of love and consideration. Perhaps I can do it when they have the frolic to replace the roofs on my house and garages.

    • *
      Jonathan Edwards
      Comment on Don (August 25th, 2015 at 19:07)

      Don

      I can only conclude that you have not read my posts with an open mind. There is plenty of room in my framework for your son’s experience. I am glad to hear that there will be a frolic to replace the roofs on your house and garages. I am also glad to hear how well they have treated Mark.

      • *
        Anonymous
        Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 07:44)

        I second Nicholas and Don’s suggestions that J.E. give some more information. Why am I getting the sense he is a convert who had a hard time and now has an ax to grind?

  • *
    Nicholas
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 25th, 2015 at 16:24)

    I would like to address several items here.

    1. I apologize, for I think I may have started this discussion that has gone far from where I considered it might.

    2. To Jonathan Edwards, I would repeat the request for an answer as to how you’ve come by your knowledge.

    3. Many things I could say to Mr. Edwards have already been said well enough by others. I particularly liked Don Curtis’ latest response.

    4. The Bann. I am under the understanding that the Bann is not simply enacted because someone didn’t live up to Amish lifestyle rules or expectations, or because they left the church after baptism. I thought it was enacted because the vows made at baptism were broken. That said, it is NOT a way of saying that the Amish way is the right way, and all others fall short, as Mr. Edwards has suggested. I am under the impression, in part from my own church, that when a member transgresses or leaves AFTER baptism, a vow to both God and to one of His churches has been broken. When a person, convert or born into the culture, joins the Amish church through baptism, certain vows/promises are made. When a person voluntarily leaves the Amish church, one of these vows is broken, prompting consideration for the use of the Bann. It is not because the person has chosen a different lifestyle or church, but because the person did so after making a commitment to the Amish church. Compare this to leaving one’s spouse for a paramour.

    5. “Proving Period.” This seems to make plenty of sense to me to be included in a prospective converts immersion into both the Amish church and culture. It’s not an easy life to be Amish. It’s not that easy to be a member of a plain church, for that matter. I have had my own struggles with the changes and doubted myself along the way. I was not put in a proving period, but had attended services and been a part of the extended community for a year and a half before asking for baptism. One brother stated that I would do some things differently than they do because of my situation (i.e., no one else in my family joined the German Baptist Brethren). Liberty has been extended to me as I have made the adjustments to this new way of serving God. And that is as it should be. We heard of an example from a fairly conservative Amish group in an earlier comment.

    6. Less than enthusiastic welcomes. I am not sure if it originates in Scripture, or from past persecutions or what, but if a person wishes to convert to Judaism, the potential convert must be turned away three separate times. That is, there must be three separate attempts to dissuade the person. This is because it is very difficult to be a Jew. There are so many rules for being a Jew, not even Moses got them all right. One should be fully aware of the burden being placed upon him/her by converting to Judaism and performing all the commandments (which are seen as something to be done joyfully and not really a burden, but can certainly feel like one!). Another reason is it is dangerous to be a Jew. There have been many persecutions over the years, some taking Jewish lives. At times, in certain places, it has even been illegal to convert to Judaism, sometimes under pain of death (even in Christian Europe). So making sure a potential convert is aware of things like this is important. Compare this to the persecutions of the Amish and other Anabaptists. Remember that the Amish have only been popular for a couple of decades. Prior to that, the mainstream public didn’t have a very favorable view of them.

    7. Making sure the potential convert is joining for the right reason(s). Continuing on from the last point, the Amish congregation faced with accepting a potential convert would want to make sure someone isn’t trying to join for the wrong reasons, such as romance, escape from something in larger society (like the draft), the lifestyle (one doesn’t need to be a member of the church to live the Amish lifestyle) etc. It would be best to let something like that come out BEFORE a commitment is made, rather than break vows to God later on.

    8. Breaking vows is a serious business. Especially vows to God. If a convert to the Amish church doesn’t remain in the church, the baptismal vow is broken. It’s not a matter of “our way is the only way” or really even of “ours is the best way” but “we choose to live this way and you did, too. We promised God and each other we would.” When this vow/promise is broken, it is seen as a sin. A sin of great magnitude, enough to enact the Bann if the person can’t be brought back. I once heard a brother in our church describe “avoidance” as having the purpose of making the sinner “lonely.” (That said, the GB Brethren don’t actually use avoidance anymore, and there is much interaction with ex-members. Things can be a bit strained, though, but that is a different discussion.)

    9. I apologize for going on so long. There is more I’d like to say, but I will save it for another time.

    Peace and blessings.

    • *
      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 25th, 2015 at 17:35)

      Nicholas sounds like you’ve got pretty well the same beliefs as we do.
      I think what folks need to realize there are plenty of reasons some Amish might be hesitant about converts. First you don’t want to encourage it too highly, lest it seems to the seeker as though you are trying to push them into something. Second’ we’ve been burned so many times, yes, it’s not fair to be hesitant of one, because of grief another has given you, but that’s the way it is. Third, many are young single males and there’s always the thought that they are looking for a marriage partner and it’s no wonder parents and ministry are hesitant, because of how many young women have been led off or left set, once the seeker became disenchanted. Lest, you think none are successful or I’m being negative, neither is true. I’m just stating the facts. Once the seeker has shown that he or she is truly wanting a life change, Many Amish bend over backwards to help them. It is more a problem of people wanting what they see as a simple lifestyle and then becoming disenchanted once they realize, WE ARE ONLY HUMAN. If they come for spiritual reasons they are likely to stay. If they are coming in to try to fit the Amish into their own mold of what they think we should be like they won’t last.

      • *
        Jonathan Edwards
        Comment on Rebecca (August 25th, 2015 at 20:30)

        Rebecca

        I should have noted earlier that I appreciated the compassion evident in your post dated August 20. I agree with (and appreciate) a lot of what you wrote, at times nearly everything. There are also two things that deserve note.

        Because the experiences of seekers are being considered as a whole (that is, we are not discussing converts to one particular fellowship of Amish churches or one age group of converts, etc.), my observations are related to the Amish as a whole. A person can say ‘Our congregation believes’ or ‘My experience is’ but I am addressing the experiences, practices, and beliefs of the Amish across the broad spectrum. We cannot exclude the Swartzentrubers just because we don’t agree with them about something. Therefore, don’t be surprised that I don’t take your experience as normative. Your experience is important. It is valuable. Nevertheless, it is only one tile in a complex and varied tapestry.

        Because there have been misunderstandings with other readers of this thread, I will repeat a significant clarification. Yes, I am writing about the full spectrum of Amish groups. Just as in your case, no single experience that I mention is normative. What we are looking for are the general patterns. However, I haven’t even tried to set forth a balanced portrait of the Amish in the sense of being sure to mention all their good points alongside their weaknesses. That was not my goal. I was only trying to highlight some of the ways the Amish fail prospective converts because it seemed that the presentation was not especially well-balanced. I figured that others would continue to highlight the strengths of the Amish but hoped that they would eventually also note a few ways that the Amish have failed prospective outsiders. I can still hope that this will be the ultimate outcome.

    • *
      Jonathan Edwards
      Comment on Nicholas (August 25th, 2015 at 19:02)

      Nicholas

      Hi Nicholas.

      There are numerous historical questions surrounding the question of whether a person is banned for breaking the baptismal vow, or for unfaithfulness to certain principles or teachings of the Word of God. The two most pertinent questions are 1) When did Amish communities begin to espouse the view that a person is banned for breaking the baptismal vow?, and 2) How many Amish presently base the use of the Bann on the breaking of the baptismal vow? (I am not sure what percentage hold this view, but it is not universally held among the Amish; there are many cases in which a person is banned because of their behavior and no mention is made of the baptismal vow)

      In theological terms, I would say it is a highly problematic notion. Christian baptism entails confession of our sins, expression of faith in the triune God, and a turning away from the world and our flesh and blood to serve God in spirit and in truth. If Christian baptism could be considered a vow, it is a vow to God. We read nothing in Scripture or the early church of making two vows, one to God plus one to a particular congregation or fellowship of churches.

      Adding a vow to a certain group of people, a particular culture, or whatever additional authority that a person is committing to when they make this vow, it looks like it not only complicates matters but is an affront to the authority of God.

      If a person leaves an Andy Weaver church and joins the German Baptists they would be put in the Bann. If I apply what you said in point 4 then the German Baptists would qualify as paramours. I am not sure if you noticed but your doctrine of the church does not allow for people to move from one of God’s churches to another of God’s churches if God’s self-professing followers don’t want to release the person to go to the other church without being put in the Bann. The reason for this sorry state of affairs is that some humans down here on earth decided that people have to make a vow to their particular congregation or fellowship of churches (not just to God) and that they know better who should be banned and who shouldn’t.

      You might try to finesse your way out of this tight corner but there isn’t any wiggle room. Allow me to explain. You believe that German Baptist churches are churches of God. You also believe that Amish churches are churches of God. You also apparently think that if a person joins one they need to make a vow to that particular one. I don’t find that anywhere in the Word of God or in the early church but never mind, those are only minor difficulties. The most thorny problem is that you have now set up a rule that people may not go from one church of God (or fellowship of churches) to another church of God or (fellowship of churches) without the other church of God becoming an “illict lover” (especially if some folks down here on earth do not approve of the other church and thus put the ex-member in the Bann). And where do you draw the lines? Why even set up such a rule? Is it genuinely pleasing to God? Does this cause Him to rejoice? Is there joy in heaven when we do such things?

      Based on what you wrote about proving periods, I am not convinced that we have considerable differences on this matter. Some congregations have a formal proving period and others don’t. I am not opposed to proving periods that are of a type and duration that reflect a genuine willingness to incorporate the seeker, is of sufficient duration for the seeker to take hold of sound teaching which leads to godly living, etc. I think there is some room here for practical matters too.

      • *
        Rachel
        Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 10:35)

        Jonathan Edwards, you are spot on with your analysis of the Bann. If two different churches are both ‘ok’ and Biblical, then why is the Bann enacted when one switches to another church. Pledging allegiance at baptism to a church other than that of God’s church is problematic. If you do it because you consider this specific church to be God’s church then that might be understandable, but that would mean that you think your church is the ONLY way to get to follow Christ. And if your church is not the only church then the practice of shunning is simply cruelty.

        • *
          Mark – Holmes Co.
          Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 10:59)

          … which is why there are Amish churches who do not apply the Bann to members going to other churches recognized as sharing the same beliefs. True not all Amish groups will recognize that, but in two of the larger settlements this is how it is seen. (Holmes Co. & Northern Ind.)

          • *
            Rachel
            Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 11:38)

            And that’s fantastic that these two groups don’t enforce it in those situations. I wonder if those two groups have more success with converts.

            • *
              Mark – Holmes Co.
              Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 11:55)

              There are several “successful” converts in those two communities. I think part of the reason it works in these settings where it does not in Lancaster is more of an open-minded attitude and less pressure than Lancaster and also more experience in helping converts settle in. Though a convert is still going to be advised to take time to think it over, time to pray, and time to settle in and decide if this is truly what they feel led to do, there is the knowing that they can leave for a different church fellowship without anyone feeling they have done wrong. A convert in our immediate neighborhood joined the Amish & married but later decided it was not for him, so they joined a Mennonite fellowship and he is now living as they do with his family and that is okay, though naturally people were sorry to see them leave. A community as large as Holmes Co. is also much easier to move in to because in this large community there is much more variety in personality and individual ideas where Lancaster seems (to me) to put a lot of pressure on people to be identical.
              Where I feel our church setting is where we are called to be and I feel very much at home in it, I also know it is NOT the only true church, or to put it as one of our children once said, “There is not only going to be Holmes Co. Old Orders in heaven.” As far as that goes, it’s a sad fact that we don’t believe all Holmes Co. Old Orders will see heaven. Like it has been written about before, not all Amish people are perfect or living according to scriptural teachings. We have no reason to feel there is no dead-wood in our fence-row. It’s only through dying to self and accepting Christ that we shall be saved. My heart aches for the ones among us who might be carrying cold hearts and an unrepentant mind. I hope that makes sense…

              • *
                Jonathan Edwards
                Comment on Very well said (August 26th, 2015 at 12:02)

                Very well said

                I really appreciated this post. Very well said.

              • *
                Andy
                Comment on Great Post Mark! (August 26th, 2015 at 15:59)

                Great Post Mark!

                I love Holmes County. I love it even more after reading your post and my experience has been exactly as you described when I have visited there. It also has the effect of drawing me back! Thanks again!

              • *
                Adam
                Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (September 1st, 2015 at 20:07)

                Thank you for your post, Mark. This is great information for both the community and encouragement for my own spiritual journey. I hope to visit the Holmes County settlement some day and meet some of the local Amish there.

          • *
            Nicholas
            Comment on AMEN! (August 26th, 2015 at 15:01)

            AMEN!

            Thanks for stating this, Mark. I would agree with that practice wholeheartedly.

            • *
              Mark – Holmes Co.
              Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 15:16)

              I’m glad to hear that, Nicholas. On a different topic, you are a convert to the GB’s if I remember right. (And forgive me for not taking time to go back through all these many posts to find that! :)) I was talking with some German Baptists earlier today and we somehow got on the subject of various Amish groups. Then they mentioned they were part of the “New Conference” so they understand the idea of variety or diversity. Would you mind giving me an idea what the basic differences are between New Conference and what I’m guessing is called Old Conference? We meet enough German Baptists at work that I’m curious, but I don’t want to make them uncomfortable by asking them in a public business place.

              • *
                Linda
                Comment on German Baptists (August 26th, 2015 at 16:01)

                German Baptists

                Mark,
                Nicholas wrote about the German Baptist Brethren at:

                http://amishamerica.com/desbarats-ontario-old-order-mennonite-community/comment-page-1/#comment-110649

  • *
    Mark – Holmes Co.
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 25th, 2015 at 16:34)

    Very well said, Nicholas. I’ve been following this with interest. I’m in complete agreement with everything but #1. I can’t really see that you have any need to apologize, but I admire your willingness to do so. You made very good points also, Don Curtis.

  • *
    John S.
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 08:17)

    J.E. has ignored what Don Curtis and Nicholas wrote again. Anonymous got it right. There is a lot that could be said about this guy.

    • *
      Rachel
      Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 10:40)

      Your comment makes me think of Floyd Landis. When he first alleged that Lance Armstrong was a doper many people said he ‘had an ax to grind’ and that ‘there was much that could be said about this guy.’ People were absolutely correct that he had many less than pure reasons to accuse Armstrong. But what most people missed (and many people on this thread are missing) is that just because someone has an ax to grind doesn’t mean that they aren’t correct. Armstrong was a prolific doper. And as John Edwards is saying, the Amish also have some blame to share when it comes to the failure of new converts. Do they get all the blame, no, but that isn’t what Edwards is saying at all.

      • *
        Jonathan Edwards
        Comment on Thank you for understanding (August 26th, 2015 at 12:00)

        Thank you for understanding

        Your post felt like a fresh, cool breeze on a hot, muggy day.

        It was a relief that at least one person understands what I have been trying to say. And thank you for taking the time to say so.

      • Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren that you do unto Me......

        Rachel stated, “But what most people missed (and many people on this thread are missing) is that just because someone has an ax to grind doesn’t mean that they aren’t correct.”

        I saw this from both sides of what started as a nice thread about new converts and transformed into a conversation in which people were choosing to depart from the thread.

        Why?

        Rebeca made the point that the Amish have been burnt by young men who wanted to marry… while she said they left when they became disenchanted…she never explained why they were disenchanted. So the Amish feel they have an Axe to grind, and it doesn’t mean they aren’t correct. But for this to really be understandable I personally would like to know more about WHY? Were they married and still not truly accepted by the new wife’s family? Were they never allowed to pursue marriage? Were the rules simply too much? Was there conflict with just one individual or did the Church as a whole treat these young men any differently? A little more transparency would really be helpful in understanding the Amish side of this.

        JE made lots of points, which he stated were intentionally one sided in a sort of an analysis that focused on why it is difficult to join or remain Amish. But JE was entreated more than once to simply share WHY he was pursuing this as a one sided “thesis” as he himself has put it, but simply has not been transparent on a personal level. Why JE? Your personal experience does not mean that you aren’t correct. Please do share. If it hurts, maybe you have been wounded, you are a human being loved by God and I can only speak for myself but I offer you an ear to listen and an open heart to try my best to understand. And for all your effort to be heard please trust God to be vulnerable and share with the people on this thread a little about yourself and your experience.

        Rebeca and JE are not enemies, nor are they on opposite sides, and we all NEED to be a little more open, a little more kind, a little more honest and a little more vulnerable to make this conversation something the Lord can use.

        This is the most activity I have seen on this website in months. That speaks volumes as to the importance of this topic and the strong feelings concerning it.

        I am a Christian, I have been saved since 1979. It was the early 80’s when I first met Amish Mennonites. I liked all people and still do, but I was challenged, as the Amish Mennonites that I met showed me things in the Bible that they were obeying that I was totally ignorant of. I began to study, read, visit, travel to every Amish, Amish Mennonite and Mennonite activity, community etc that I could. I am now a member of an Amish Mennonite Church. In this great Journey, I determined to trust and obey God, to love my fellow human beings, at times in the face of great disappointment, and hurt, and at other times warmly entreated and encouraged. Through it all, I have made it my solemn commitment to walk this out with Jesus, and reach out and lend a hand to those wanting to walk as well.

        If you are not ready to share JE, that’s ok. If you are I will not slam you to the curb. If you need one on one, here is my email, greatergraceoffbg@yahoo.com and if anyone else needs to find encouragement, be heard, feel free to contact me. And as for this thread,this can be a great place for healing, restoration, honesty, and new understanding to grow.I would ask everyone to seek the Lord and ask Him how you might use this to build the Kingdom, build a brother or sister up, bring healing and love, and be the Amish, Amish Mennonite, or Mennonite Church you want the World to see and be drawn to Jesus so they too might be saved.
        I write this with the deepest sincerity,
        in Jesus,
        Andy White

        JE

        • *
          Jonathan Edwards
          Comment on Andy (August 27th, 2015 at 01:00)

          Andy

          Hi Andy.

          I respect your aim in this post. However, an internet blog is not the place to take things to such a personal level. That is the business of real, on-the-ground Christian communities. My reticence is not limited to this forum and was reinforced by the “spirit” of some of the recent posts. Even if I had been inclined to share on a personal level, do you honestly think I would share in the presence of such hostility?

          I would not encourage Rebecca to spread the nitty-gritty details of persons who joined the Amish but later left their communities and their wives when they became disenchanted because it would not benefit the women involved or glorify God. I agree that these experiences are part of the larger story but the harmful effects of spreading such details on the internet would heavily outweigh the benefits of understanding these events up-close-and-personal. If someone thinks I am saying this because I have something to cover up, they may think whatever they want.

          Areas of primary interest are history, sociology, and theology. And how Christian faith is lived. I still do not understand why my comments prompted certain acrimonious replies. I am interested in the historical, sociological, and theological foundations of Christian life and the significance of lived faith for sociological theory. For example, what their handling of prospective converts says about their theologically-informed church-world distinction, how they navigate the “in group”-“out group” boundaries, and what this tells us about their Biblical hermeneutics–how they interpret Scripture.

          My goal of balancing the discussion could be easily achieved. Here are Mark Curtis’ five reasons that some converts fail:

          – They didn’t do their homework
          – Joined for the wrong reason
          – Failed expectations
          – Following children out of the church
          – Converts who were unable to make connections

          Now add two ways that Amish communities sometimes fail prospective converts…


          …and I think we will have moved closer to painting a fuller picture of the daunting task of trying to join the Amish.

          When I suggested that the Amish partly contribute to the challenge of joining their communities, my suggestion was met with utter rejection. Certain readers proceeded to defend certain unhelpful Amish responses to prospective converts. In so doing they plainly proved the truthfulness of my thesis that there are ways Amish communities make it challenging for seekers. To put the matter a bit differently, some people have been so consumed with defending the Amish that they have failed to realize the extent to which their comments have proven the very thing they were originally trying to dismiss. My post is NOT–and has never been–that the Amish are terrible or inconsistent people. There is much to commend them for. The point is simply that we should offer a fuller account of the reasons that some prospective converts fail.

          It is astonishing that so many readers feel the need to figure out who I am. Here is a tidbit for you to munch on…I recently spent a week with a close friend in an Old Order community in the midwest. In church on Sunday I was asked to start the Lob Lied, to read Scripture, and to give Zeugnis. Try to poke holes in it if you wish. I don’t mind. The Lord is my strength and my song, of whom shall I be afraid?

          • *
            Andy
            Comment on Thank you for your responce JE (August 27th, 2015 at 09:33)

            Thank you for your responce JE

            You are always welcome to contact me personally by the email that I left in the former post. I understand that you are not comfortable communicating on a personal level on this blog and that’s fine. You have your reasons and you are still just as good anyone else.

          • *
            Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 27th, 2015 at 10:49)

            Perhaps JE is an alias for someone quite familiar to all of us?? Stirring up some interest in this website?? What do you think Erik?

            • Harriet, I don’t think I can shed any light on your question :) But if you are wondering if JE is secretly me or something, I have to say the answer is an unequivocal “no”–I guess I already have my hands full enough just posting as regular old “Erik” to be creating secret aliases :)

          • *
            Don Curtis
            Comment on Mark's comments (September 1st, 2015 at 16:46)

            Mark's comments

            Jonathan,
            Again, you jump on comments and make a sweeping truth out of it. I siimiply called my son, Mark, and asked him to give me some reasons he thought that converts left the Amish. He came up with the five reasons off of the top of his head. His reply is certainly not an exhaustive scholarly research but in his opinion they are still valid reasons. He has also told me and I have stated in previous posts that there are negative aspects to the Amish. One is that tend to be clannish. Their socializing is to a large extent based on family. The Yoders or the Troyers or the Bylers get together for birthdays, monthly “sisters’ days”, etc. If you’re not a Yoder or a Troyer or a Byler then you’re just out. Mark hss been adopted by several families that he is good friends with. Perhapx not all converts would be so accepted. Of course the language can be a barrier but converts need to know that from the get-go. Mark’s church provides a part of the service in English for non German speakers and translators for the parts that are in German.
            As to your feeling that some of the comments have been defensive that is unfortunate. Perhaps I came aross too terse. But, Mark is my son and I don’t apologizs for defending him and the people of his community who have been so kind to my family in what were terrible times for us. By the same token Jonathan, if you want to criticize then be prepared for opposing views.
            Finally, nobody hss asked you to reveal your personal data on the internet. We simiply akssed you to back up your far-reaching statements with reasonable bases for your conclusions be it research or personal experience.

        • *
          Amish Girl-Rebecca
          Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 29th, 2015 at 18:46)

          Andy, sorry for not being clearer, but since school has started this week I haven’t been able to be online more than a few moments and giving whole stories will take more time, than I have at the moment, though I’d love to. And I actually don’t know too many personally (ex-converts), for lack of better words. Basically what I know are stories of hearsay and I wouldn’t really want to be spreading things that aren’t proven and of course I would have heard only the Amish side of the story and also I didn’t mean to sound like an enemy, for that I apologize and I also apologize for not reading more of the posts before I answered the last one. It would have given me more enlightenment. What I have read is very interesting and I wish time would allow me to write more and read all of the posts. I suppose this again sounds vague, but not intentionally. I hope someone will be able to answer your questions. Not meaning to sound confusing, but not knowing how to make a long story short, so Good-bye ! Rebecca

          • *
            Jonathan Edwards
            Comment on Understandable (August 29th, 2015 at 23:04)

            Understandable

            It is understandable considering the length of this thread and how little time you have. Wishing you a blessed school year…

            “JE” 😉

  • *
    Also Holmes County
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 10:34)

    The non-Amish lady who was baptized in the Amish church near Sugarcreek (Cherry Ridge) was only with the Amish about 9 months before being baptized and that was this year. She is a really nice person and people really like her. Since she has health problems the Amish are taking care of her and supporting her. I don’t know where Mr. Edwards is getting his info. But if he is trying to take all the Amish together as one his info. is kind of pointless. You need to take all the different levels of us separate because it doesn’t make sense to put all Amish together even. He can use all the educated writing he wants but we LIVE it.

    • *
      Jonathan Edwards
      Comment on Confused (August 26th, 2015 at 12:27)

      Confused

      I am a bit confused here. Why would I be displeased that she was baptized after being with the Amish for nine months considering that I have been suggesting all along that shorter proving periods are more consistent with the teachings of the New Testament?

      Since MW claimed that a 3-5 year period is perfectly reasonable, we worked from that premise and discussed a variety of inter-related concepts. I never suggested that all Amish congregations expect such a lengthy proving period. That is just the premise we started with and that no one objected to (as far as I can remember).

      I agree that it would be more ideal to “take all the different levels” of Amish separate. The main drawback is be how lengthy the posts would become! As I explained in an earlier post, I am discussing “the Amish in general” because that is how seekers have been discussed.

      Regarding the “He can use all the educated writing he wants but we LIVE it” statement, I forgive you. I want you to know that you are welcome here, that you are welcome to critique my ideas and challenge me when you think I am wrong. I look forward to your contributions.

  • *
    Jonathan Edwards
    Comment on Mark from Holmes County (August 26th, 2015 at 11:47)

    Mark from Holmes County

    Hi Mark.

    I want to forewarn you that you might feel backed into a corner by this post. But I trust that as a faithful Christian you will be willing to read this post with an open mind. I want to do the same for your posts.

    You just stated that the incoherence noted above “…is why there are Amish churches who do not apply the Bann to members going to other churches recognized as sharing the same beliefs.” But this is not the position Nicholas stated, and that you expressed “complete agreement” with. Nicholas delineated the notion that an ex-member is banned because he/she broke their vow to a particular church group. This is the Streng Meidung position, not the practice of the “south churches” in Holmes County or in Elkhart/LaGrange Co (IN) that you appealed to.

    Because you expressed “complete agreement” with Nicholas’ statements except for point #1, you cannot appeal to the practice of Elkhart/LaGrange County and the “south churches” in Holmes County unless you are willing to adjust your view of Nicholas’ post.

    In all honesty I felt that your post expressing “complete agreement” with Nicholas was essentially a way to oppose me. After all, the Bann-because-he-vowed-to-our-church position is a Streng Meidung view; not the position upheld by the church of which you are a member. (If I am wrong about your membership, please correct me)

    Perhaps I am totally wrong in my assessment but I wish we could somehow reach together. There are no blessings in disunity.

  • *
    Mark – Holmes Co.
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 12:16)

    Maybe I am missing something here… A person can leave the Old Order Amish church of which I am a member for a different Amish fellowship or churches outside of the Amish that follow the Biblical beliefs we hold true. I don’t see how taking that step puts the member as breaking their vows to the church. If that were the case, Holmes Co. Old Orders would not be able to join, say, a Beachy church. I’m not sure if I’m missing something here or simply failing to communicate, but I stand by this position.

    No, my intent was not essentially a way to oppose you. If I had that in mind, I probably would have commented very differently.

  • *
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 14:51)

    Wow!!! You go away for a couple of days to have a medical procedure taken care of and our website erupts like crazy!! Go figure!!

    It has been my experience that no one religion is always right or always wrong. After all, the pews are full of nothing but sinners!!

    It has also been my experience that many churches don’t meet the needs of everyone present. A case in point: my own Methodist church is a very warm and loving place. But last fall, I developed pneumonia and missed church for a month. Not one person bothered to pick up the phone and call me. Then on my last doctor visit, my car “bit the dust”. I was four months without a way to get to church. No one called to see if I was okay/needed help. I did, however, continue to get letters asking for money!

    But, I am in a church where I feel God wants me to be. Why? I don’t know. I just know I’m were I am supposed to be right now. It is kind of like a marriage, not all are perfect but I made a commitment, and I HOPE to keep it.

    • *
      Jonathan Edwards
      Comment on Welcome home (August 26th, 2015 at 15:11)

      Welcome home

      Welcome home, Harriet. Hope all went well. I agree that God often shows us where He wants us, even if we can’t precisely spell out all the reasons.

      • *
        Comment on Thanks, Jonathan (August 26th, 2015 at 15:40)

        Thanks, Jonathan

        Thanks, Jonathan. Everything looks good, at least, so far.

    • *
      Mark – Holmes Co.
      Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 15:24)

      I hope you are on your way to a full recovery. Yes, you missed a lot! That’s kind of sad your church people didn’t “reach out” to you more when you could have used it. Maybe you’ll need to show them by example what it can be like? I liked your comments on commitments, too. And Jonathan — something we agree on 100% — God often shows us where He wants us, even if we can’t precisely spell out all the reasons. (And I’m kind of joking on the agreement thing. I’m sure there’s a lot of other things we do agree on, but I couldn’t resist it. :))

      • *
        Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 16:31)

        Hi, Mark!! Less than three weeks until I’m in your neck of the woods!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!! ‘Would love to meet you while I’m there.

        I was very hurt when no one contacted me. I even considered leaving the church and prayed for God to let me know where I should go. Every time I asked Him to lead me to the right place, the vision of my church sanctuary popped into my head. After about 10 days of praying the same prayer, I said, “OK, I guess You have told me enough times. I am where I belong.” Ha!!

        I’ve not always been the best at keeping my commitments, but this one, I plan to keep. You may be right; possibly God has plans for me
        to visit/contact others who are in need.

  • *
    Anabaptist
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 26th, 2015 at 19:07)

    For almost a decade I have waited to join the only Anabaptist group in my country. I dressed the same, kept to the same standards, had the same believes long before I discovered of Anabaptism, moved as close as I could and attended as often as I could. They let me begin the application process for membership but have withheld membership for over 3 years now while giving it to their children within a few months.

    They refused to consider me as a member because the only job I could find near their rural church in a country with a weak economy would involve an hour’s daily commute. They said this was too long a distance but let those from Anabaptist backgrounds have fellowship from the same distance and much further, and since they wanted me living and working next door they could have provided work for me beside the church (this was something they gave to an unproven stranger along with a place to live and car to drive and when that person left, they offered it all again to them).

    This is a Beachy missionary church but they refuse to include one of the few interested locals and as a result have just one local member. The cost of being left waiting for years and of years of begging for inclusion has been real emotional toil. They posed recently as warm and welcoming Christians for a journalist not so long ago, while withholding fellowship from me knowing the extreme distress this was causing me.

    • *
      Andy
      Comment on Please know you are welcome here and are being heard (August 26th, 2015 at 21:33)

      Please know you are welcome here and are being heard

      I am very happy you are stepping forward. You have a voice. You are not alone in your experience. If you are comfortable share with us more about yourself, what country you are in etc. My name is Andy. I live in Texas. If you need an Anabaptist friend, feel free to contact me at greatergraceoffbg@yahoo.com Do not give up my friend! look to Jesus! His Grace is sufficient and He will make a way for you. Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

    • *
      Jonathan Edwards
      Comment on Anabaptist (August 27th, 2015 at 22:30)

      Anabaptist

      Christian greetings to you.

      I have a friend who wanted to join a plain Anabaptist church, in this case a fairly progressive Amish church. They never allowed him to join. He vented his frustration to me about the situation on multiple occasions. Some time later I found a good situation to inquire with his bishop. The leader didn’t give the matter any consideration. It was really hard to know why the bishop didn’t consider moving this seeker “forward” in the process of joining. It wasn’t that the bishop wasn’t open to seekers. He was one of the most open Amish bishops I know. It just seemed there was something going on in his thought process that he couldn’t bring to the surface or explain. To this day, I do not understand the situation. I wonder if this might be your dilemma as well. Plain Anabaptists are not always the best at turning thoughts or feelings or impressions into words. Nevertheless, there is always hope that a strong connection will be forged in the future in spite of what has happened previously.

  • *
    Linda
    Comment on Attractions to the Plain People (August 27th, 2015 at 15:38)

    Attractions to the Plain People

    Cory Anderson has a website about the Beachy Amish-Mennonites. When answering requests for Plain Anabaptist church locations, he asks some questions:

    “To what extent have each of these items influenced your interest in the plain people? This is not a list of what I promise you will find in a given church, but are some of the more commonly stated attractions individuals have to the “plain people.”

    Modesty
    Plain style clothing
    Personal testimony of an Amish/Mennonite acquaintance
    Serious about following the Bible / serious Christians
    Strong community
    Nonresistance
    Against fads
    Crafts (sewing, quilting, etc.)
    Emphasis on church schools or homeschooling
    A church with standards & expectations
    Gender roles
    Amish/Mennonite ancestors
    Good environment for my children
    Limits on technology
    Strong family life
    Want an Amish/Mennonite spouse
    God’s calling in my life
    Need help getting my life on track
    Similarity to early Christianity
    Women’s head covering

    Church location request form, The Beachy Amish-Mennonites:
    http://beachyam.wufoo.com/forms/z7x3k1/

  • *
    Nicholas
    Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 27th, 2015 at 17:25)

    Hello again, all.

    What a discussion this has turned out to be! I notice that Erik has wisely stayed out this. 😉

    I think I had best address several points all in one post, in no particular order.

    1. To Harriet: It grieves me to hear of your trials, because it is saddening when anyone suffers. I hope your health recovers quickly! It grieves me more in your case because your church family didn’t reach out to you. I find that to be a troubling trend in many mainstream churches. Maybe you could encourage people to be more involved with one another? Or even set an example, if it is feasible and not too much out of your comfort zone? Not to put words in God’s mouth, but maybe that’s why He wants you there.

    2. To Anabaptist: I am very sorry to hear how you have been treated, and like Andy, am glad you are stepping forward. All of us in the Anabaptist churches need admonition like this from time to time. They may have had a legitimate cause for not accepting you as a member that wasn’t obvious to you, or they may have withheld their cause for some reason. I am NOT saying you are fault, here. I am suggesting that there might be something that you do not know about their thought process yet. I hope your situation gets better.

    3. To Mark: If you would like anymore information on the GBs (or clarification on something about us), please let me know. I’d be happy to discuss it and provide what answers I can. I appreciate and value the insight you have given us on this site. I am curious as to whom you met (no need to tell me, anonymity is still something I appreciate). They are quite right about variety in the GBs, which is found rather widely even within one group such as the New Conference (of which I am member).

    4. To Jonathan Edwards: Several points.
    a. I would agree that we are not so different on proving periods. I do think it is important for folks being baptized in ANY church to know what they are getting into. I waited over a year and a half before asking for baptism. I discussed only a few months in and was told I would be better off waiting. This turned out to be a very good suggestion. I have noticed, both in myself and others, that when one finds a new faith, there is initial zealousness for that faith. Perhaps a purpose of a proving period is to allow a person to get past the romanticized views held early on and to mature a bit before “getting hitched” to God and one of His churches.
    b. I would repeat that I am not of a Streng Meidung mind and would support the practice of allowing member to move between churches and fellowships of like-minded Christians. The New Conference GBs and the Old Brethren both hold to the practice of extending the Holy Kiss as a greeting to all that practice it, not just those of one’s denomination, if this tells you anything about how we view other groups. It’s not that ours is the only, it’s just a “good fit” for those that choose to express their faith this way.
    c. Concerning what I consider God’s churches,I have NO authority at all to decide if any one group or another is not one of His churches. I am sorry if I led you to think that.
    d. You are correct, that is a tight corner. You misunderstood me, though, or I didn’t make myself clear, and if that’s the case, please forgive me. The church’s position in the baptismal vow is more like an accountability partner, rather than the spouse proper, with God being the true spouse. Still, jumping ship for greener pastures could be seen as parallel to adultery. I would not view leaving an Anabaptist group for another as “adultery” or even really changing churches. They would still be a part of God’s church universal. The issue of “taking a paramour” would arise if Anabaptist beliefs and/or practices are abandoned. This is not to say there are not good, true Christians outside of Anabaptist churches. I was also attempting to explain why an Amish group might enact the Bann on those who leave for a different group, not defend the practice. Not everybody holds to the same views of other groups. If one Amish group views another as not upholding the same beliefs and values as they do, or at least not to the appropriate standard, they may want to shun their members who go over to that group. I am not defending this practice, only seeking to explain why that might happen.
    e. The vow to the church: I think this is a touchy subject for a lot of people, and was a major part of the 2009 division of the GBs that created the New Conference. There was concern that the church was taking on the authority of Christ. I am not convinced that this concern has been quieted. I would agree that the baptismal vow is mainly to God. The vow to the church is to keep each other accountable here on earth to God’s teachings and commands.
    f. Thanks for giving some information as to how you have come by your knowledge. I am not asking for your identity, and never did. I was sampling inquiring as to how you came to such detailed information. I could guess that you are member of the Old Order community and perhaps even in a position of leadership since you bore testimony to the truth of the sermon, but I don’t know what good doing this would have on our discussion. I am satisfied. I hope others are, too. That said, you did raise several good points.
    g. I would agree that some Amish groups do not give a good welcome to outsiders looking for a place to belong. That might be something those groups or communities could work on. Allen Co, IN is known for being chilly, and while I would wish they would be friendlier, I also know that they have a lot of troubles there. This doesn’t make their behavior right, but it does explain why they would be reluctant to deal with potential converts. Perhaps other places/groups are in similar situations.
    h. Ways Amish could fail potential converts: 1. Don Curtis said some converts leave because they couldn’t make connections in the church. This could certainly be the fault of the congregation, not the convert. 2. Amish could fail to extend grace or mercy to someone adapting to the lifestyle. 3. Amish congregations could refuse to acknowledge or deal with internal issues pointed out by converts, leading to disillusionment. 4. Amish could fail to adequately explain beliefs and practices before admitting an outsider into the church. I could come up with others, but I hope these will work for a start. That said, I am NOT bashing the Amish for any of their failings. I can’t. I have my own failings, too. Hopefully, Our Creator will help us to work out these things among each other.
    I. Jonathan, I hope you don’t think I am out to simply oppose you. I am not. Your discussion has really been appreciated, and I am grateful for your insight and good points. I would prefer a less negative approach, simply because it can obscure your valid points.
    J. I hope you have a great weekend!

    5. To everyone else (and Erik): Sorry for such a long post! I need to work on not being so longwinded! May God’s peace and blessings be upon you all, and may you all have a wonderful weekend!

    • *
      Jonathan Edwards
      Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 27th, 2015 at 22:20)

      Nice post. I appreciated everything that you wrote. Did you struggle to know which branch of the GBs to join, the Old or New Conference?

    • *
      Comment on Thank you (August 27th, 2015 at 23:43)

      Thank you

      Thank you, Nicholas for your concern over my health. I believe I am fine…had some biopsy work done.

      As for my church, I am very disappointed by the situation, but that often happens with a larger church. (Well, it’s large by my standards…350-400 in attendance.)

      I only mentioned it to make a point. What feels like indifference, can happen in any religion/church. My church is generally a very warm and loving church. I just slid through the cracks this time. That may be the case with some of the other people being discussed. Maybe no one is intentionally being indifferent towards them, but they are just caught up in their everyday life. At least, I would like to believe that.

      I close with one thought…Others behavior towards us is not a reason to withhold forgiveness–God forgave us.

    • Hi Nicholas, long posts are never a problem. I appreciate the thought that has gone into your posts and this thread. And you’re right, I have stayed out of it, but have been lurking in the background :)

      I know that certain subjects can get stronger responses than others. So I am thankful to everyone for keeping it pretty civil and respectful here. When I go on comments sections of some other sites, I am reminded how appreciative I should be of the community of readers and commenters here.

      • *
        Nicholas
        Comment on Amish Converts in the Oakland, Maryland Community (August 28th, 2015 at 16:56)

        Glad to know you were mediating, Erik! I also greatly appreciate that everyone here has kept it civil. I was worried I was being rude in one of my posts. Even with the anonymity of the internet, I believe people should still be careful of what they say. It affects folks just the same as if it were in person.

        Harriet, that is a big church! “Falling through the cracks” does seem to be an issue when a congregation of any religion gets past a certain size. It’s for this very reason I really like my own small district. We know each other pretty well, quite possibly too well. It also doesn’t help that in our district most of the people are related. That said, we don’t always know about each other’s struggles, because we get caught up in daily life, like you said, or because people hide them (I am guilty of this). My personal preference is a smaller group, but I know that’s not for everybody.

        Jonathan Edwards, thanks for all the good points you raised in this sensitive discussion. Yes, it was a bit of a struggle to know which group to join. What I have discovered through my own experience and from hearing about other’s experiences, is it is not so important that you find a group that believes exactly like you do, but is close and practices closely to what you want. In a sentence, one that is a “good fit for you.” Mennonites, Amish, GBs, and Hutterites (even though the other three don’t practice/believe in community of goods) all have the same central tenants of belief (perhaps with slight variations). It seems to be more a matter of how these beliefs are applied to daily living. The New Conference just fit me better than others, and I made my home there. I was welcomed at both places, though. This doesn’t mean I didn’t and don’t still second guess my choice at times. I think that would be normal for all who have made a major religious and/or lifestyle change.

        Peace.

  • *
    Andy
    Comment on Thank you Nicholas (August 27th, 2015 at 23:12)

    Thank you Nicholas

    I appreciate the time and effort and the objectivity of your post. I’d like to hear more about your life if you feel like sharing. I have friends who are GB’s who moved to California about 12 years ago. Are you familiar with a group in California?

    • *
      Nicholas
      Comment on Thank you, Andy (August 28th, 2015 at 16:38)

      Thank you, Andy

      Thank you for your inquires and politeness, Andy. I try to be objective, not favoring one side too heavily when I get into a big discussion. I have many opinions, some are certainly going to be wrong and it’s something like this that helps me see them! It really gets you thinking and being too biased can’t be healthy. I am somewhat familiar with the GBs in California. Our deacon is from there, as are two older members (and their late brother, whom I knew for a few years before he went to his reward). I’d be happy to share in a more private setting, if that’s alright with you. I don’t want to clutter up Erik’s site with my personal stuff!

  • *
    Andy
    Comment on Erik (August 28th, 2015 at 11:13)

    Erik

    I appreciate your web site Erik and I agree with you, I have seen the comments n other web sites and this readership is very different in a good way. Thank you Erik and thanks to all of you who make this a good place to share and care.

  • *
    Bill Rushby
    Comment on "Other sheep have I..." (August 28th, 2015 at 22:24)

    "Other sheep have I..."

    Whew! I couldn’t make it all the way through this thread! It’s 11 P.M.; time to think about bed. The discussion has been quite informative.

    I’d like to remind you that there are horse-and-buggy churches other than the Old Order Amish. I’m thinking of Old Order Mennonites and horse-and-buggy German Baptist Brethren. The Old Brethren German Baptists of Camden IN and Trenton MO have been particularly successful in taking in converts. Despite the name, these German Baptist groups are English-speaking.

    I don’t belong to any of these fellowships, but sympathize with them all!

    I don’t know who “Jonathan Edwards” is, but it seems a bit unfair to expect full disclosure of him when it is not expected of everyone!

    Bill Rushby, for better or for worse!

    P.S. I have also heard that there is a very small group of horse-and-buggy Old Order River Brethren somewhere in Kansas.

    • *
      Jonathan Edwards
      Comment on "Anonymous" and his equally incognito cousin "Just Wondering"... (August 29th, 2015 at 07:33)

      "Anonymous" and his equally incognito cousin "Just Wondering"...

      For some strange reason I was puzzled by the request for full disclosure by a certain “Anonymous” and his equally incognito cousin “Just Wondering”… :)

    • *
      Nicholas
      Comment on Horse and Buggy Groups (August 29th, 2015 at 15:17)

      Horse and Buggy Groups

      Mr. Rushby, you are correct about the other horse-and-buggy groups. There are actually two German Baptist horse-and-buggy groups, the one you mentioned and the Old Order German Baptists around Covington, OH. This group is nicknamed “the Petitioners” and the Old Brethren German Baptists are called “Deer Creekers” (the name of the GB district near Camden, IN) and “Ledyites.” No idea as to the origin of that name. I have heard that some or even most of the Deer Creeker converts are GBs that desired a plainer lifestyle, but I couldn’t give you any solid proof on that. Thanks for the reminder about other group! It’s a little frustrating to some GBs that the Amish seem to have a monopoly on “plain.”.

      • *
        Bill Rushby
        Comment on Converts to Horse-and-Buggy Brethren (August 29th, 2015 at 16:02)

        Converts to Horse-and-Buggy Brethren

        Nicholas: I think you are correct that most of the converts to the Old Brethren German Baptists are ex-members of the Old German Baptists. Most of the members at Trenton MO fall into this category.

        However, as far as I know, both horse-and-buggy Brethren groups also have other converts. Especially with the OBGBs, they also have lots of kin who are “fellow travelers”, even though they drive cars and are not church members. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Brethren_German_Baptist

        Both the Camden IN group and the Trenton group report regularly in the *Budget*. There is also an Eastern PA Mennonite group at Camden that reports; their reports are under Susan Kilmer’s name, I believe.

  • *
    Linda
    Comment on Curtis Duff 2004 (August 29th, 2015 at 09:07)

    Curtis Duff 2004

    Back in November 2004, two articles were written about Curtis and Daisy Duff. The first article has an accompanying photo of the Curtis Duff family standing beside a buggy. Here are a few quotes from 11 years ago:

    “To supplement their income, for the last two years the Duffs’ neighbors, Ray and Rachel Miller, have invited tourists to … enjoy a carriage or sleigh ride.”

    “Mrs. Yoder, who died in 1996, is the mother of Daisy Duff, of Gortner, Md., and when Daisy was about the same age as 8-year-old daughter Maria is now, she and her mother were pictured in a National Geographic book called “Life in Rural America.”

    Read more at,
    “New Order Amish strike a delicate balance between what’s forbidden and what’s necessary”:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/life/lifestyle/2004/11/21/New-Order-Amish-strike-a-delicate-balance-between-what-s-forbidden-and-what-s-necessary/stories/200411210184

    “Grateful for a great pumpkin pie and the woman who first made it:”
    http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/04326/413946.stm

  • *
    Don Curtis
    Comment on Curtis Duff (September 1st, 2015 at 12:57)

    Curtis Duff

    Just a coincidence but Curtis Duff and his wife were in Belle Center this last weekend and stopped by to visit with my son, Mark. Mark and Curtis have a lot in common. Both are fromo Columbus, Ohio. Both about the same age. Both joined the Amish.

  • *
    Judith
    Comment on Hello! (June 21st, 2016 at 13:06)

    Hello!

    Hi,
    I just came across this article by chance and wanted to tell you that I found it interesting. Oakland, Maryland is where I was born and raised. I worked with Curtis sometimes at the local hospital for a time and Christina Cortez lived with my family for a year or so. My parents are Amish and one of my sisters is as well. I was raised Amish but left when I was around 17. I never knew how different Amish in other communities were until I got married and moved to Holmes county Ohio and saw the melting pot of Amish and Mennonites. To say I experienced culture shock is putting it mildly. I was used to rubbing shoulders everyday with people outside of my culture and making good friends with them too and not thinking that anything was abnormal. The more I experience life in a large Amish/Mennonite community the more greatful I’am for the blessing of being raised in a small community where Amish people rubbed shoulders, did business and had good friends outside of their culture and it was just as normal and unremarkable as breathing. I often get frustrated when I see Amish people presented as suspicious, close minded people. That has not been my experience at all although I know it may be true in other communities. My parents are born again Christians and did the best they knew how to raise us kids to know God personally. They run two different businesses and have never used the Amish name to sell their products. In fact driving through our small town you’d never know there were any Amish people around unless someone told you. There are virtually no buggies on the road ( they only use them on Sundays) and no signs advertising Amish stuff. Being Amish is not the focus of their lives. Following God is and if that happens to look Amish then so be it. Ironically enough this past spring my parents had a tv crew from down east show up on the farm to do some filming for an agricultural program( my parents live on a farm and also run a produce operation). They spent a whole day filming. Towards the end of the film they gave my dad a chance to say a few words and he said that this isn’t about them or about them being Amish. The only reason they did this was because they thought maybe somehow it would bring glory to God. As far as I know there were no negative repercussions from their church people for doing this. I feel this article was accurate for the most part, I just wanted to add my personal experience:)

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