13 responses to Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

  • Naomi Wilson
    Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 5th, 2013 at 07:59)

    Challenges

    I wonder if the most difficult aspect of joining an Amish church might be the “human” side of things. It seems like if one was truly convicted and ready, then the ordnung might be quite easy, even liberating, to accept. Difficulties might arise in “fitting in” to a group of people that has shared a strong bond that goes back generations, and also in learning the language and mastering some of the smaller details like, for a woman, sewing the clothes exactly right, if perhaps community members were not wanting to go out of their way to help someone make that transition.

    My husband and I have been discussing this a fair bit lately. He would be concerned that crossing over into an almost foreign culture would be the challenge, even for someone who is strongly convicted on matters of faith, and accustomed to a plain lifestyle. I would be delighted if others with experience would weigh in on this. I know Lance has addressed this before in comments on other posts.

    Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

  • Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 5th, 2013 at 09:27)

    I do have to correct John on one thing here. I know of a divorced Amish lady. She is my mom. My father left the church when I was in fourth grade. Years later he filed for divorce. She didn’t sign the papers but after two years the divorce is granted regardless.

    I don’t fault John though for this oversight. It is extremely rare, and mostly happens when one partner leaves the church and the other remains a member.

    Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

    • Different types of divorce?

      I think John may have been talking about the “conventional” sort of divorce, though there is a type of divorce, (is it called “no-fault”?) where one party basically has little say in it (can you tell I’m not a divorce lawyer).

      These have happened among Amish, not common, though I know of one or two. Maybe different Amish groups treat this differently, I do not know, but I don’t see the basis for faulting someone when the divorce action is entirely on the initiative of the other party, so it seems sensible to treat it this way.

      That divorced person may remain a church member as it sounds like happened in your case Rachel, but remarriage wouldn’t be accepted while the other party is alive. Sounds like a difficult situation your family went through.

      Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

    • Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 6th, 2013 at 10:10)

      Rachel

      My view did not include the unwilling person, the Plain Community victim, the person filing for the divorce could initially be a member of the Church only if it’s hidden, however after it’s known in the Church then that person would be excummunicated and wouldn’t be a member of the Old Order Amish, unless he would recant and take up membership again, then he wouldn’t be divorced anymore..

      I also knew a lady that was divorced by her husband, however the difference was, she didn’t want it to happen, she was the victim, however he didn’t remain in the Church.. I wouldn’t have classed her as divorced, however I guess she would have been, never thought about it that way..

      The only few that I would know of, haven’t filed for a divorce till they were gone for a year or more, so therefore they wouldn’t have been a member of the Amish Church.

      Does that make sense. This is kind of like “If a tree falls in the forest and there are no humans in the area, does it still make a sound..” :)

      Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

  • Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 5th, 2013 at 10:20)

    Rachel

    But would the church allow her to remarry??
    Perhaps they consider her still married since in God’s eyes she is married until a spouse dies? (The Lord never mentioned the two year rule :))

  • stephanie
    Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 5th, 2013 at 12:56)

    My family converted to the Beachy Amish Mennonite church. A bit different than Old order Amish to say the least but tons of “rules” and Old order friend of mine and I were comparing our church standards and while ours was 4a pages long. Hers was only 2! Anyhow, I see so many people wanted “the plain life” and the “long to join the plain churches” those people will never last. Just liking the outdoors and working hard wont cut it. You have to be prepared to have every aspect of your personal ans private life open for scrutiny. Which is good (we think) it is accountability. But if you are very independent or do not do well with authority or like your individuality I would say a plain church is not for you. The language is also an issue but we have learned fairly quickly mostly due to the patience and kindness of our church and our Amish friends around us.using

    Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

  • Don Curtis
    Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 5th, 2013 at 13:42)

    Amish acceptance

    I guess I forgot to say that Mark has known folks who came to the Amish who were accepted positioally but were not accepted socially. Sometimes the seekers had personality problems that made it hard to like them. Who wants to invite a person over for supper and listen to the person complain the whole evening? Or some who expected othes to invite them all the time but never extended an invitation, themselves. Others had a hard time adjusting to the Amish work ethic and were considered kind of lazy. They went from job to job that the Amish found for them. Never found one they liked. Others came to the Amish for the wrong reasons or with unrealistic expectations and became disillusioned. Some weren’t willing to learn the Deitsch and felt excluded. All of these were, at one time, members in good standing in the Amish church. But, were they accepted, totally? That’s hard to answer.

    Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

  • Erin
    Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 5th, 2013 at 14:24)

    It was neat to read about John’s English friends while growing up. I really liked how he sees people as people not a label or a color.

    Don, it’s always great to hear Mark’s perspective as it is Anne’s. I think your story about his birthday party and bookshelves is a true testament to his acceptance in to the culture. It sounds like he’s been a great community member and somewhat of a counselor/mentor to the young men in his district.

    Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

  • Anne
    Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 6th, 2013 at 10:02)

    Becoming Amish

    Sorry I could not weigh in sooner. Busy and sick for way too long now!

    Today I’m home due to this massive snow we are getting, we have no power (another Amish holiday,ha,ha!) so have a moment to write. Our son was warmly embraced by the group he joined, but they did not make it easy on him. A few examples of how it worked for him:
    1. Language: they refused to speak English around him , though a friend often tried to do a quick translation. He said the children were the most help. He made flash cards for everything and worked on learning the language every spare moment.
    2. Living arrangement: he was able to live in a small cabin on the land of a family. In exchange he worked very hard for them. He was not able to make extra money for himself, not much anyway.
    3. Basic provision: he also had to do his own cooking, cleaning, etc. When he decided to make the commitment to join/convert, he was expected to live even more on his own. Meaning that in addition to the orher basics, he had to prepare his land for farming and start a business. He used all his savings to buy a small property and began the hard work of making it useful.

    Yes, he was immediately considered to be on the same level as any other family. He benefitted from his share of workdays like others. Now and then a family would gift him with a loaf of bread or some eggs. These were especially welcome gifts. Now that he is married life seems SO much easier for him! He has a sweet wife to take on so many of the chores he previously had to do by himself. I think converting to the Amish is probably one of the most difficult paths anyone can choose. Ed had no family of his own within the community to lean on during this time. We are so grateful for his sweet little Ruth! Her help and companionship has made all the difference.

    Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

    • Erin
      Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 6th, 2013 at 11:08)

      I was waiting for you to weigh in, Anne! It sounds like Ed really was dedicated and determined to learn the language, culture, and religion with little help. I was wondering how he learned PA Dutch as learning a language as an adult is so much more difficult than learning it as a child. That’s great that the children in his community were willing to help him out. It sounds like things were a little harder when he was single. So glad he was able to find a wonderful wife to grow along with and raise their children together. I’m sure he is a terrific husband and can appreciate all the household chores that Ruth and he now share.

      Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

  • Don I saw Mark firsthand interacting with younger folks, when we were invited over for a dinner during my visit. I could tell they really appreciate him.

  • Kathy Rowe
    Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 6th, 2013 at 17:02)

    I have met some very nice Amish in my many visits to Holmes County, Ohio. Granted, some are more outgoing than others, just like us “Englishers.” Have always been treated nice by those I have come in contact with. Have become friends with a couple families and enjoy visiting with them when I am in the area.

  • Sadie
    Comment on Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders (March 8th, 2013 at 20:51)

    I wonder, Anne, if those around your son would speak only Dietsch because it is supposed to be easier to learn a language that you’re “immersed” in. At least that is what I’ve always heard from people who either have done so, or would like to do so (usually with languages like Spanish or French, though!).
    Maybe they thought that if he was going to “make it”, Ed would need to learn to understand the language, without relying on an interpreter or having English spoken, and maybe that was a quicker way of doing so! I’m not sure!

    Ask an Amishman: Accepting Outsiders

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