The New Order Amish in Amish society
What distinguishes New Order Amish from Old Order Amish?
New Order Amish make up only a small percentage of the total Amish population–roughly 3%.
New Order Amish live in a number of states, with the largest group found in the Holmes County, Ohio settlement (around 18 church districts, or about 2,400 individuals).
Visually, New Order Amish can often be difficult or impossible to distinguish from members of Old Order Amish churches.
New Order Amish dress plain, travel by horse-and-buggy, speak Pennsylvania German, and send their children to Amish-run parochial schools.
New Order Amish differences
There are differences between the New and Old Order, however. They include:
- Sunday School-many New Order Amish churches devote the “off” Sunday to a Sunday school gathering for the entire congregation
- Air Travel-most New Order Amish churches permit travel by plane
- Fewer New Order Amish youth join the church-the New Order Amish have a significantly lower retention rate compared to other Amish affiliations
…and a number of others.
Frequently, New Order Amish are described as “more progressive” than Old Order Amish. But as Hurst and McConnell do a good job of explaining in An Amish Paradox, that is not exactly a perfect description.
In fact, New Order Amish could be described as socially more conservative than most Amish, in that they promote clean courtship among youth, and don’t allow tobacco or alcohol use.
A better description may be that New Order Amish are a mix of more conservative and more progressive practices.
One mark of “progressivism” may be their orientation to non-Amish.
I’ve got a number of New Order Amish friends in Holmes County, and often visit church and even Sunday School.
New Order Amish typically welcome visitors. New Order ministers often attempt to preach at least part of the service in English.
German language hymn books used at New Order Amish Sunday School may also include an English translation.
Read much more on the New Order affiliation in this Amish Online Encyclopedia article on the New Order Amish.