46 responses to How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism?
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    Osiah Horst
    Comment on Baptism (August 3rd, 2015 at 07:42)

    Baptism

    Thanks for sharing, Rebecca. It is always interesting for me to see how our old order Mennonite practices are similar and yet different than Amish ways.

    In our settings, the person seeking baptism must speak with a minister personally. Starting each year in June we have six consecutive Sunday afternoon services called Unterricht or instruction classes with three articles covered each Sunday. After each article is taught, the applicants are asked whether they can agree with the teaching in the article. Everyone is welcome to attend these services but there are usually more youth than married people in attendance.

    On the fifth Sunday morning, following the regular service council meeting is held to give members the opportunity to welcome the applicants or to share any concerns they may have about an applicant. On the Saturday afternoon after the last three articles are taught, the applicants meet with the ministry for a review of the articles and to review what is expected of members.

    The baptism service is held the following Sunday morning, with the entire service devoted to teaching about what baptism represents and the commitment to follow the teachings of Jesus and the order of the church. In our case the deacon pours water into the bishop’s cupped hands, but only once.

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      Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 3rd, 2015 at 11:03)

      Thanks for sharing this description Osiah. It sounds like some things are similar, but condensed over a shorter time frame (not to say the material is necessarily condensed, just covered across a shorter period). Can you say which Mennonite churches generally speaking would follow this format?

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        M.H.G.
        Comment on Baptism (August 6th, 2015 at 09:43)

        Baptism

        This is a great way to prepare, all for
        baptism…
        So they take it more seriously, the holiness of God!
        _______________________________________________________

        Just recently, my grand nieces were saved after Christian
        Bible, training camp (baptism followed) Ages: 14 – 12 – 10

  • *
    Mike Sparks
    Comment on Baptism (August 3rd, 2015 at 07:54)

    Baptism

    Rebecca, thank you so much for the great insight you provided on the preparation and completion of an Amish baptism. I found your text fascinating.

    I guess in some regards, in the English world, some likely take baptism for granted (especially in some faiths that do baby baptisms). Some likely see it as the “thing to do”. To read your article, it is clearly spelled out that this IS a life changing and life defining moment, one that is not to be taken lightly. So much so, that even the ministers, provide and “out” if the young person is not ready. My analogy would be of a farmer harvesting fruit or vegetables. He constantly nurtures his plants and will provide for them all they need to grow strong and pure. He will not pick his fruit until fully ripe and ready.

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    Comment on Very Interesting.... (August 3rd, 2015 at 07:58)

    Very Interesting....

    Thanks so much for sharing the details of this very special occasion with us, Rebecca. Since time is very limited for me this morning I am able to only scan over this, but plan to revisit it later when I can spend more time digesting it.

    It does provoke a question, though. In my visits to various Amish communities, a couple of them (Kalona, IA (http://amishamerica.com/amish-kalona-iowa/) and Garnett, KS (http://amishamerica.com/a-visit-to-the-amish-at-garnett-kansas/)) had Sunday School houses. Can you confirm that this is where young people would be instructed in the things that you talked about prior to their baptism?

    Thanks again for the very insightful piece.

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      Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 3rd, 2015 at 11:00)

      Don, were you asking specifically about the use of those buildings in those communities, or whether Sunday School houses are used for instruction in her Holmes County community? Not sure I’ll be able to give you the answer, but at least wanted to clarify the question.

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        Don Burke
        Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 3rd, 2015 at 22:46)

        Erik/Rebecca, sorry for not being clear. My question was to see if the Sunday School buildings (in the seemingly relatively few Amish communities that have them) are used for the type of pre-baptism instruction that the post speaks of. That is what I understood about the Kalona buildings, but it was second- or third-hand info. and just wanted to see if someone with first-hand knowledge could confirm it.

        • *
          Comment on Youth instruction (August 4th, 2015 at 10:51)

          Youth instruction

          Thanks Don for clarifying. I don’t have the firsthand answer, but maybe someone here does.

          Just my guess for what it’s worth, but if they follow the general pattern of doing instruction during the opening singing, then it seems like it would make the most sense to simply use a room at the home where church is being held rather than trekking to the Sunday School location (since the Sunday School houses are not church meetinghouses as I understand them, but simply special buildings for Sunday School). But maybe they undertake their baptismal instruction at a different time of the week since they are already a little different by virtue of having these buildings which most Amish do not.

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    Amish Girl – Rebecca
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 3rd, 2015 at 09:37)

    Don, sorry but I don’t have the answer to your question about the Kalona and Garnett Amish. I have friends in various communities, but none of those.
    And to all of you I’m glad you enjoyed it ! I enjoy sharing my culture in a factual way, not as the TV shows and so many fiction books do.

  • *
    Slightly-Handled-Order-Man
    Comment on SHOM would be say "yes" to must but be stumped on one question (August 3rd, 2015 at 10:03)

    SHOM would be say "yes" to must but be stumped on one question

    By coincidence I printed off a copy of Dordrecht Confessions to read it, I didn’t know that the Amish use it as the basis of the training toward baptism, interesting.
    Thank you for the insightful article, Rabecca and Erik.

    If it where me going through the process I think I’d have to question and contemplate greatly to understand what is meant by the flesh and blood part of this question:
    “Do you renounce the world, the devil with all his subtle ways, as well as your own flesh and blood, and desire to serve Jesus Christ alone, who died on the cross for you ?”
    Partly because to me I’m confused about the concept of flesh and blood, if that refers to family, having had read the New Testament (Matt – which is my favorite NT book), I’ve always not quite understood what was meant by going away from your family, I don’t know if that means starting your own family unit or taking up ministry..
    this has always felt odd to me because my whole life has been about family, and have never fully understood its meaning (especially in the stereotype of the Amish as they are entirely flesh and blood- family focused).

    On a side note, I went to church for the first time as an adult over the weekend – by choice – and found it fascinating.
    I went to the Friends and found their gathering (Meeting) to be rather interesting, am thinking of going back next weekend (although I might forget because here in Canada it is a long weekend and technically a short week and so might be thrown off – and I’m afraid I might wake up at 11:00 Sunday morning and swear at myself “aw crud, I was going to go to Meeting, darn – oh well, that kind of happens when you’ve been non churchy your entire life…)

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    Amish Girl – Rebecca
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 3rd, 2015 at 10:37)

    SHOM, I would take that to mean not following our fleshly lusts and wishes (flesh and blood), but rather think first of what God wants and before we make a decision based only on what we feel like doing we should first think of the greater good of all involved. The part in Matthew that you’re referring to, I’ve always been taught that would mean, if we love our parents more than God, so that if their teaching would go against God’s and we would obey them versus God’s word, we would be disobeying that command. At the time that was written it was very likely there were young people wanting to follow Jesus whose parents did not approve of it. Those of us who have Christian parents have much to be thankful for. If someone has a better explanation, I stand to be corrected.

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      Slightly-Handled-Order-Man
      Comment on thanks!! (August 3rd, 2015 at 17:29)

      thanks!!

      Rebecca did a fantastic job! I agree.
      I also should thank you Rebecca for the follow up, thank you for clearing that up for me, the way you explained it makes sense to me.

      Yes, Erik, I did have a nice experience at the Friends Meeting House, and to be quite honest, I am still trying to process what I ‘saw’ there (and it is Monday evening, so that is a sign).

      The Journal that is referenced, is that published by a company (Pathway for instance), or is that a book published by individual communities?

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        Amish Girl-Rebecca
        Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 7th, 2015 at 09:33)

        The journal is available in many Amish stores. It’s self-published and put together by an old-order Amish couple.
        The “In Meiner Jugend” (In my Youth) is published by Pathway. It has the 18 articles of Faith, Rules of a Godly Life, some hymns, prayers, the baptismal questions and marriage questions in German and English. In fact I used it for quite a bit of my article.

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    Doug
    Comment on Thank you (August 3rd, 2015 at 11:05)

    Thank you

    Thank you Mrs Miller I loved reading about this I think this should be followed by all Churches not just Amish I pray God bless you and your family.

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    Alice Mary
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 3rd, 2015 at 11:20)

    Thank you, Rebecca, for this true account of Amish baptism. I also appreciate the other commenters’ questions & interpretations…it is a lot to “digest”, thinking through it all.

    I’ve always seen Amish (and other non-infant) baptism to be similar to confirmation in other Christian denominations, especially those who adhere to infant baptism. I’ve always thought (as a “born & raised Catholic,” now “former” one) that infant baptism is more of a “dedication” (as Unitarians practice, for example). I never could reconcile myself to believing a person could be considered Catholic (or Christian, for that matter) without being old enough to consider all the implications of the religion they’re “getting into”. And it seems to me that having adults (Godparents) “speak” for the infant is actually showing a LACK of faith in God’s promises…that they feel the need to “cover” for that child until the child him/herself is old enough to decide for themselves (“confirming” their belief) whether or not they wish to belong to that religious denomination.

    It’s taken me a lifetime to come to this conclusion…but I realize it may not be the LAST conclusion I make on the matter. Like the Amish, however, I am grateful my ancestors chose to settle here, where freedom of religion is allowed!

    Alice Mary

  • *
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 3rd, 2015 at 11:40)

    Great job, Rebecca!! I really enjoyed this article, almost as much as I enjoyed the chocolate cake I made from your recipe!! (My neighbors enjoyed it too.)

    I am so glad you are willing to share these insights with us. Please keep doing so.

  • *
    Don Curtis
    Comment on Not all baptized are youth (August 3rd, 2015 at 12:30)

    Not all baptized are youth

    I realize that most of those baptized into the Amish church are youth. But, my son, Mark, was already 51 when he was baptized intot he Amish although he was baptized as an infant when we were with the Methodist Church. Mark told me that he was mortified when he was baptized because when he knelt for the long prayer he got a “charlie horse” cramp in his leg. He didn’t want to stand but he couldn’t stand the pain. He said that he kind of squatted and stretched out his leg. He had hoped that everhybody’s eyes were closed during the long prayer and nobody would notice. But, afterwards, one of the ministers chuckled “Saw you were having some trouble during the prayer, Mark.” So much for closing one’s eyes duringn prayer.

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    Amish Girl – Rebecca
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 3rd, 2015 at 12:36)

    Don, Thanks for sharing ! That’s a good one. I think you always have such an interesting perspective, because of you son joining in later years of his life. And I like it that you are still so close to your son and support him. Also would love to hear from Anne about her son’s experiences in this. I’m sure not growing up Amish gives you a different appreciation for so much that we take for granted.

  • *
    Comment on Special needs (August 3rd, 2015 at 14:00)

    Special needs

    Rebecca,

    Re-reading this got me to thinking. Do your mentally challenged people ever join the church or is that not allowed because they might not understand the seriousness of their act? If not, are they considered as Amish even though they are not baptized?

    • *
      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 4th, 2015 at 14:34)

      Harriet, sorry I thought I had answered your question yesterday, but something must have happened to it.
      Yes, Mentally challenged adults can get baptized if they so desire. As long as they can understand enough to request baptism, they try to accommodate them. Because of their challenges they probably wouldn’t be held as accountable as others in certain circumstances. The parents and/or adult siblings would possibly still be making a lot of their choices, so it would be somewhat different than for others, who would now be considered adults.

      • *
        Trish in Indiana
        Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 4th, 2015 at 15:04)

        What about those whose mental or intellectual disability makes them incapable of ever understanding even enough to request baptism, such as the deeply insane or what we used to call the profoundly retarded? Would an exception be made for them, or perhaps would they simply be entrusted to God like a child who dies before baptism?

        I am glad that Harriet asked this question about baptism of the mentally challenged, because that is not a question that ever occurred to me regarding the Anabaptist traditions. (Coming from a tradition that has practiced infant baptism from the beginning, for us it has never been a question of whether to baptize such individuals; of course we would be as ready to baptize such a person as we would an infant, and would trust that they received God’s grace through it, though of course, like an infant, they would have no personal sin to be forgiven.)

        • *
          Amish Girl-Rebecca
          Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 4th, 2015 at 18:33)

          If they are not mentally capable of even asking for baptism, they would be considered as innocent as a baby or young child at death.

  • *
    Jamie
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 3rd, 2015 at 16:59)

    Rebecca,

    I really enjoy reading your posts on this website. Thank you for all the information you share with us that helps us understand your culture…as you put it “in a factual way”. I also love when you share your recipes! Eric has got to be thrilled to have you contributing to the Amish America website.

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    Carol
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 4th, 2015 at 07:14)

    This is probably a insignificant question, but do the women who are being baptized have a spare cap to put on after the pouring of the water or do they just let the damp one air-dry? Or maybe the water is directed toward the forehead and not much of the cap would get wet.

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      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 4th, 2015 at 14:25)

      Here in our community the bishop’s wife removes our covering and holds it while the baptism is going on. It might be different in some communities. Maybe for communities where the covering doesn’t cover as much of the head, it might be appropriate to leave the covering on. But since the girls wear black satin caps for church, it wouldn’t work the best to leave it on for us.

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    Kevin L
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 4th, 2015 at 10:16)

    Thank you Rebecca for your article and for sharing your insights with us. They are very much appreciated!

  • *
    Trish in Indiana
    Comment on The more things are different, the more they are the same! (August 4th, 2015 at 10:42)

    The more things are different, the more they are the same!

    As someone who has spent years of my life in a Catholic context helping adults prepare for baptism, helping children grow in the faith into which they were baptized, helping parents fulfill the commitment they made to raise Christians when they brought their children for baptism, and helping people of all ages continue growing in the living out of their baptismal faith, I find that there are fundamental similarities in religious formation not only of these different groups within one Church community but even in different communities, yes, even communities as seemingly different as Amish and Catholic.

    The Gospel (not just written books, but the totality of the Good News) is brought into contact with a person’s life, including explaining it in terms the person can understand at their level of personal and spiritual development, and they receive the support of the community to develop further, so that they can live out the life to which God calls them as fully as possible.

  • *
    Tom Geist
    Comment on Anabaptist = Re-baptizer? (August 5th, 2015 at 23:28)

    Anabaptist = Re-baptizer?

    Hi Rebecca,

    Recently I was at the Amish/Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin Ohio and took the Behalt Cyclorama tour with an Amish guide named Mark. (He did an excellent job but please don’t tell him I said that because his head might swell and he will have to buy a bigger hat! HA!) Mark mentioned that the word “Anabaptist” actually meant to be re-baptized again. That word made sense because at the time people were baptized shortly after birth and then re-baptized once they were older and could give consent. Today there is not a baptism as a baby (unless I missed it) but only the one when the person can give full consent, yet they use the term ‘Anabaptist’ yet. Can you explain why that might be?

    Tom in Lincoln

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      Don Burke
      Comment on Anabaptists (August 6th, 2015 at 08:25)

      Anabaptists

      Tom, as you might know, I am a life-long Baptist. Although it is debated by some historians, some hold that our lineage passes through the Anabaptists. (Whether it does or not is immaterial to my point here, it’s just that because of this we do have a bit of a knowledge in this area.) The “again” part of Ana-baptist is because *converts* from other groups were baptized again, not that *everyone* in the Anabaptist churches were baptized twice. Such would be the same if someone were to convert to an Anabaptist church today — even though they were baptized as an infant they would be “re-baptized” (AKA ana-baptized — thus, Anabaptist).

    • *
      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 7th, 2015 at 09:37)

      I would say we still use the term Anabaptist, because that is our heritage.

      Don Burke has a good explanation, too.

  • *
    Slightly-Handled-Order-Man
    Comment on amish embracing anabaptism heritage (August 6th, 2015 at 06:37)

    amish embracing anabaptism heritage

    Let me take a stab. Names just stick, Tom, although the Amish call themselves Amish, they might not actually refer to themselves as Anabaptists even though they do originate from the Anabaptist movement [if asked, would an every-day Amish reply “I’m Amish” or “I’m Anabaptist” to the innocent question “what religion are you”, by someone unsure?).
    Annabaptist is a flashy name, and although no one in Amish circles baptize infants (where as a lot of other Christian churches still baptize babies), the root of the conflict is what is remembered, I guess, I would suppose that Mark the tour guide said they where Anabaptists because it is by now an umbrella term for all the groups that came from the original one…

    Speaking of names sticking, I noted that last weekend I went to a Friends meeting for worship, they as a group embrace the rather patronizing name “Quakers”, but it seems to me the group I was with might better be called “shifters” because they spent most of their time shifting in their seats, or better yet, ‘creakers’, because of the sound of the creaking benches/pews as a person shifted their weight in them in an effort to get comfortable [that is highly noticeable when no one is speaking]..

    Maybe Rebecca can expand to respond to Tom’s question, but names and labels tend to stick

    • *
      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 7th, 2015 at 10:07)

      SHOM, if I may borrow Mark’s remark about five different answers from five different people. That would also answer your question. The average Amish man may just say “I’m Amish.” Another may say “I’m Christian, of the Amish denomination.” Still another may answer,”I’m an Anabaptist.” And, yes in a way “Anabaptist” is an umbrella term as you say, because there are many churches that go back to that heritage.
      Personally- I’m a Christian first, of the Amish denomination, of an Anabaptist Heritage. What really matters is where we stand with God, not people.
      And you have a point about names sticking, that’s why so many nicknames among the Amish are carried through to the 3rd or 4th generation. That’s what happens if you have a 90+ John Millers, as many Joes or Josephs, and 100+ David Millers. Then we’ve also got Yoders, Troyers and many more.

  • *
    The Other Erik
    Comment on What motivates joining church versus stalling for time? (August 7th, 2015 at 00:27)

    What motivates joining church versus stalling for time?

    Do the Amish typically join once they’ve found a partner they expect to marry soon? Or do they usually join in response to upbringing and social pressure? Or some other reasons?

    • *
      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 7th, 2015 at 10:14)

      The other Erik,Future marriage plans may have a some of a deciding factor for some youth, but many youth are church members long before any marriage plans are on the horizon. For example our old-order youth group of 70+ young-folks has less than ten youth that are not church members or in classes at the time. We have six steady couples and all of these individuals were church members before dating. This is not required, but a personal choice of God-fearing, Christian, Amish young people who want to do what is right.

  • *
    Mark – Holmes Co.
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 7th, 2015 at 08:54)

    Erik, I can’t speak for everyone and I’m sure five different people could give five different responses, but when I decided to apply for baptism it had nothing to do with marriage or social pressure. It was a step I felt I wanted to take to ??? not finalize or seal, but maybe to complete the process I started when I began to feel there was a gap in my life, a gap that only God could fill. Over the months I was in instruction classes I felt I was learning more about not only the church and what it means to die to self and be born again in Christ, but I learned a lot about myself, too. Baptism became my public affirmation of my inward conversion, if that makes sense.

  • *
    Trish in Indiana
    Comment on Do the Amish ever baptize by immersion or submergence? (August 7th, 2015 at 10:36)

    Do the Amish ever baptize by immersion or submergence?

    Rebecca or anyone who knows the answer:

    I know that the normal way for the Amish to baptize is by pouring of a relatively small amount of water on the crown of the head, and I hear of former Amish who become Baptists having to be “re-baptized” by immersion, because their new faith community does not consider baptism by pouring valid. (This, in a sense, would make the Baptists “Anabaptists” relative to the Amish. Another example of “the more things change, the more they remain the same”!)

    Is there any variation in Amish practice in this regard? For example, do some Amish communities immerse in the local creek, or do some bishops tend to pour by the pitcher instead of the cup so the person is soaked?

    There are two reasons it occurs to me to ask:

    First, because I have some ancestors on my mother’s side, several generations back, who were of the Anabaptist tradition known as “Dunkards,” presumably because they baptized by submergence. (There is still a small Dunkard congregation not far from me near Goshen, Indiana.)

    Second, because I’ve gotten used to fairly wide variation in my own community. My church tradition (Catholic) is associated mainly with pouring of about a cup of water, once each for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but we consider it valid to baptize by almost every physically possible way of bringing water into contact with at least the crown of the head, from sprinkling to cup-pouring to immersion by bucket-pouring to immersion by submergence (dunking), and I have known of all of these to be used in a Catholic context. (In fact, the one I called “immersion by bucket-pouring” has in recent years become very common for baptism of adults, and many Catholic churches now have baptismal fonts that, while not deep enough for dunking, have space for a person to kneel in the water while enough water is poured over them to get them wet all over.)

  • *
    Amish Girl-Rebecca
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (August 7th, 2015 at 10:54)

    As far as I know Amish all practice cup-pouring . We believe the water is the symbolic cleansing of what Christ has already done with his blood, so it wouldn’t be necessary to be totally wet as the water won’t cleanse us.

    • *
      Trish in Indiana
      Comment on Thanks! (August 7th, 2015 at 11:01)

      Thanks!

      Yes, our two traditions agree that the water doesn’t HAVE to be “all over” for a baptism. But I do find that I like seeing a “soaking wet” baptism from time to time (or at least every year at the Easter Vigil). The symbolism of being totally “immersed” in Christ’s death and resurrection seems so powerful.

      Thanks so much for your prompt reply! We must be online at the same time.

  • *
    Ellie
    Comment on Journal "A Change Within" (November 11th, 2015 at 18:47)

    Journal "A Change Within"

    Hi, Could you please tell me where I can find a copy of the journal “A Change Within”? Thank you.

    • *
      Amish Girl-Rebecca
      Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (December 22nd, 2015 at 16:42)

      Ellie, here is that address, sorry it took so long. This was actually compiled by a local Amish couple. I gave my little sister one this summer when she joined. OUR HERITAGE REFLECTIONS
      4335 TR 369
      MILLERSBURG OH 44654

      MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A BLESSED NEW YEAR ! REBECCA

  • *
    Amish-girl Rebecca
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (November 21st, 2015 at 12:29)

    Ellie, I’ll try to find an address for you, but please have patience, it may be a while.

  • *
    Judith
    Comment on Article 13 (January 3rd, 2016 at 01:04)

    Article 13

    I am interested in the article about civil government. What does that outline?

    Also, I was wondering about the expectation of baptism. It seems the Amish let their children come to their own decisions about it, in their own good time, which is great. But I also wonder about those who put off baptism, but not reject the idea.

    For instance, is there some 34 year old, not baptized, slacker guy who lives at home and just hasn’t gotten around to getting baptized? Or do his parents say – hey, get baptized or get out? And does the Church have an age limit to baptizing. I know it’s around 20 years old – but are there people who still live in the community and procrastinate their baptism? (I know that sounds weird and counterintuitive to the Amish, but I’m curious).

  • *
    Amish Girl – Rebecca
    Comment on How Do Amish Youth Prepare For Baptism? (January 7th, 2016 at 13:22)

    We have a few young men in their mid- late 20s who are not baptized in our church. I know one guy who is mid- 30s, but that is uncommon. There is no age limit. Most are baptized by 20, but not all. It’s an individual choice.

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