37 responses to Old Order Insights at Kutztown University
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    Comment on Old Order insights at Kutztown U. (February 23rd, 2012 at 07:59)

    Old Order insights at Kutztown U.

    Sounds like it would have been an interesting evening. Wish I wasn’t so far away….Maybe a longer article could be re-printed in some fashion, to hear “more”?
    Thanks Erik for sharing,

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    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 23rd, 2012 at 08:29)

    Thank you for the information. Like Sharon, I too would enjoy more articles listing statements made by the 2 gentlemen.

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    Robin Wyatt
    Comment on more info (February 23rd, 2012 at 08:37)

    more info

    I would loved to have been there. There are so many questions I have for all the different plain communities. Maybe someday I will figure out how to ask them.

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    Richard from Amish Stories
    Comment on Very nice job with this post Erik, and i hope your able to cover them more (February 23rd, 2012 at 08:50)

    Very nice job with this post Erik, and i hope your able to cover them more

    Good morning folks and Erik i hope your able to showcase the old order Mennonites a little more on Amish America in the future, and you did a very nice job on this story. A lot of us dont really know very much about them (old order Mennonites) so i know at least for myself id like to read any addional information that you can pick-up of these other plain people’s. And the ones that I’ve talked with here in Lancaster county all are farmers and seemed very little interested in entering the crafts trade like the Amish are doing, so to me in this way the Amish seem just a little more worldly in dealing with the tourist who visit here. Both to me are very hard working people yet with subtle differences! Richard

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    Comment on Good information (February 23rd, 2012 at 09:01)

    Good information

    Thanks Erik, It is good to have a chance to learn more about and more from our plain neighbors.

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    Paula Mann
    Comment on Recorded? (February 23rd, 2012 at 11:17)


    It sounds wonderful and particularly since we joined a plain church in 1999, I would have loved to be there but I care for my mother who is very frail and it is hard to get out. Was the discussion recorded by any chance? I would be more than happy to buy a dvd or tape.

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    Jane F Thompson
    Comment on More Old Order Insights (February 23rd, 2012 at 11:20)

    More Old Order Insights

    Wonderful post! I, too, would love more detail from the evening. Is there a transcription available anywhere?
    Along with Richard, I’d like to hear more about the Old Order Mennonites.
    Yours is one of the few blogs I read every time it arrives in my inbox.

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    Rich Stevick
    Comment on Add me to your list (February 23rd, 2012 at 12:28)

    Add me to your list

    . . . of those who would like a copy of any transcript or recording of the Kutztown event. I’m sorry to have missed it. Rich

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    Kathy Rowe
    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 23rd, 2012 at 13:43)

    Count me in, too. I’d also like a transcript of the event. Can you help us with that, Erik?
    Thanks for the most interesting post.

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    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 23rd, 2012 at 15:05)

    Cindy Woodsmall wrote a new novella book, THE SCENT OF CHERRY BLOSSOMS, about an Old Order Mennonite girl in a relationship with an Old Order Amish boy. I have not read it. It may not be a true story, but maybe true to life, not sure.

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    Comment on contact PBS (February 23rd, 2012 at 15:28)

    contact PBS

    Why not contact PBS to air the discussion about the OOM & Amish that was held at Kutztown University?

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      Carolyn B
      Comment on Mary, Good Idea!!! (February 23rd, 2012 at 23:48)

      Mary, Good Idea!!!

      Mary, that is a wonderful idea. Hope someone can make it happen. I am so looking forward to the 28th and the American Experience show on the Amish.
      Thanks for all your work, Erik!!

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    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 23rd, 2012 at 15:50)

    Thank you Eric for your fine summary.

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    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 23rd, 2012 at 16:37)

    I looked back at the post from Feb 17th to try and understand again, “Now, why did they do this?” Like the others commenting above, I think it is very interesting and valuable information, but I have to admit, I really do not see any reason that the leaders of the Old Order Groups would think this sort of thing would be necessary, therefore, “allowable.”

    The Old Order Groups I am familiar with really have no interest in clarifying much to outsiders.

    Still, I’m happy about it, although surprised.

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      Comment on Reply to Lattice (February 26th, 2012 at 18:42)

      Reply to Lattice

      Yea, I agree Lattice, my experience with Old Order & Swartzentruber Order is that they are not interested in explaining their rules or culture especially to outsiders.

      In fact, in the PBS TV special, “The Amish” airing Feb 28, a small excerpt will show Levi Shetler explaining why he left Amish & the consequences. Levi is special to me & my family; he’s the cousin of our “adopted” son, Mosie, who is also former-Amish. Levi is very kind and quiet, shy, but personable. I’m anxious to watch the PBS TV special to see how the director and producer portray Levi. He, along with several other former-Amish are joining us Tuesday evening to watch it together. I want their comments and feedback because the producer, Callie, had emailed me asking for feedback following the airing.

      I like Ben’s comment on kindness, too. And, Erik, thanks for sharing this 🙂

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        Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 26th, 2012 at 18:45)

        Oops, got off track and forgot to make my point about Old Order. After the PBS film crew left, Levi said to me that he didn’t understand why English are interested in Amish.

        I haven’t yet read all the comments here so please forgive me if I repeat someone’s comment.

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        Comment on Pbs doc. (February 29th, 2012 at 15:38)

        Pbs doc.

        I stopped to watch the PBS doc. This afternoon and was surprised and pleased to see the Amish of St.. Lawrence county (especially morristown-where my family is from) discussed as pertained to the building permit controversy (I hope the court ruled in favor of the Amish in upholding their rights and beliefs). Anyhow, I noticed that your friend Levi was wearing a St.. Lawrence river NY state shirt and was curious if he was from the area. He’s a brave young man and was well represented in the doc. And I wish him all the best.

        Star lake ny

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      Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 27th, 2012 at 09:25)

      As some of you already know, I tried to join a conservative Amish group. During a time of especial frustration with the church and its lack telling me anything, I was told that they cannot because of Mt 7:6 which reads “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

      That was one of the toughest moments in my entire life. I had spent thousands of dollars moving and conforming to their ways, at least that which I knew about, and had given over two years to their way, and I was still a “dog” and a “swine” in their minds.

      I thought it was an isolated incident, but in the years since then, I have learned that most Amish ministers agree with that usage of that verse with outsiders, while most would have been more tolerant and forthcoming to the long time and sincere seeker that I was. I still consider the man who told me that a best friend and was extremely disappointed to have missed his funeral. That actual hurt more than the verse did.

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        Comment on Lance (February 27th, 2012 at 10:17)


        Oh that was such a tough comment to hear. We have seen that if you are not family or born Anabaptist there is distrust, maybe because alot of people come and go and there are alot of “bad experiences”, but we have never heard that. We know a number of people who have joined and in many cases married in. I assume you are talking Old Order Amish? You know it could be you are talking to people who are just traditional and not converted. There are both kinds of groups out there. Generally the ones that hold a new birth and are moderately interested in evangelism are more open. If they get a missions interest they may find themselves in the Mennonites or Beachys. What did you do after that? Are you still in plain church fellowship? Just wondering since we also were nonMennonite background.

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    Al in Ky.
    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 23rd, 2012 at 19:44)

    Sounds like it was an educational and inspirational event.
    Like others have said, I would like to hear a recording of
    the evening. Reading about it motivated me to go to my
    public library and check out “On the Backroad to Heaven”
    by Donald Kraybill and Carl Bowman. It is about Old Order
    Amish, Mennonites, Brethren and Hutterites. I think I will
    learn much by reading this book, but would really enjoy hearing
    people talk about this topic in person.

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    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 23rd, 2012 at 22:16)

    I like this statement, and Ben’s comment about kindness.
    “When asked for a piece of advice for non-Old Order society James suggested trying to look out for one’s neighbor. He also proposed reflecting on clothing choices, noting that some of the customers at his produce business “challenged” his values by their choice of attire. Ben said that no matter what group you belong to you can’t go wrong doing random acts of kindness.”.

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    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 24th, 2012 at 00:33)

    I second that.

    Help out your neighbor… and try not to dress too scandalously.

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    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 24th, 2012 at 13:36)

    I agree with all of the above comments. Sounds like a wonderful informative meeting held in PA. Many questions that I need to have addressed. Especially the Old Order Mennonites.

    A PBS special would be wonderful to view.

    Learning and being kind to our neighbor would be most constructive to everyone in this day and age.
    Are there any articles or books that Mr. Weaver or Mr. Riehl have written? I’m sure not, however,any more forums to be held in the future.

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    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 25th, 2012 at 21:56)

    Thinking about this point:

    “Amish worship in the home because their Old Order identity formed earlier in time. When the Old Order branch of the Mennonites crystallized, meetinghouses were already more accepted in the culture.”

    Does anyone know about what time in history did the Old Order communities begin to immerge. Secondly, does the term “Old Order” originate with the Mennonites, the Amish or their English neighbors? I’ve only had limited face to face time with Old Order folks, I wonder too, how many actually say “I’m Old Order Amish” as opposed to the less wordy “I’m Amish”

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      Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 26th, 2012 at 05:06)


      I’ve actually only asked that question to an Amish person one time, because while I knew for certain they were Amish I was not quite sure if they were OO or if they were Swartzentrubers. So I asked: “What affiliation is your community?” and after a brief pause he answered rather matter of factly: “We are Old Order”

      However, I would think that they would generally say “I am Amish” and have never heard one describe themselves any other way. I think the Old Order label was gradually affixed to the Amish in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. One of the books I read last year had a good timeline on that. I will see if I can find it. Have no idea about the OO Mennonites.

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      Comment on Attempt to answer questions (February 26th, 2012 at 19:06)

      Attempt to answer questions

      “Does anyone know about what time in history did the Old Order communities begin to immerge. Secondly, does the term “Old Order” originate with the Mennonites, the Amish or their English neighbors? I’ve only had limited face to face time with Old Order folks, I wonder too, how many actually say “I’m Old Order Amish” as opposed to the less wordy “I’m Amish””

      I’ll try to answer from my experiences with Old & Swartzentruber Orders (most of them left & are not “Englisch”).
      There are more than 15 identified orders from extremely punitive, strict Swartzentruber up to the most “progressive” Orders like Weaver, New, and Beachy. Then there’s the Mennonites, which I have little knowledge/experience.

      Each order, from what my former-Amish friends share, is self-contained and doesn’t mingle with the other orders. In fact, higher (progressive) orders somewhat look down on lower (stricter) ones. Marriage from one order to another is prohibited. Thus the fiction books where an Old Order Mennonite gal has a relationship with an Old Order Amish lad is improbable. But, one must remember that fiction is just that – made up, pretend. 🙂

      I understand there are numerous orders because, as church disagreements arose, the problem-solving solution was to separate & start a different order. I do not know what time in history each order began.

      Lastly, on how many will say “I’m Old Order Amish” as opposed to the less wordy “I’m Amish”” my answer is “I dunno.” With the ones around here, I ask, “Which order are you?” and they will say. We have mostly Old & Swartzentruber. In another county that is more touristy is the more progressive, New Order Amish.

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    Comment on Old Order (February 26th, 2012 at 18:13)

    Old Order

    I believe “old order” started in the late 1800s with the union (meaning many denominations) Sunday Schools in many rural communities and was exacerbated by the advent of technology. I remember reading a book, maybe one of Stephen Scott’s titles from Good Books (?) where they said some early divisions occurred because fathers and ministers felt that religious instruction belonged in the home, and in some Anabaptist groups parents started letting their children attend the ‘union’ Sunday Schools that were common in rural places. Missionaries from various evangelistic protestant groups would set them up as a way to reach unchurched children and families and some of the plain people went to them. In a book on Beachy Amish church history apparently telephone, cars and electricity became an issue in some communities around the same time or shortly after. The idea was that too much connection to the world would undermine church teaching.
    We attend a church where the people are from Mennonite Christian Brotherhood / Nationwide Fellowship Background (black cars, black hats). All of our families homeschool, we have computers but not video or radio, but we do not have Sunday School. They do a children’s message up front of the church meeting room before the adult sermon. I believe even though we are modern in some ways we and the Horning Mennonites are still nominally old order because we don’t do Sunday School. When you get an unaffiliated congregation that is not part of an official conference group, you have more flexibility on these things. Our men have set the policy in their own brothers meeting monthly. There are some other congregations like ours sprinkled around. We don’t have black cars anymore either.

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    Comment on Cindy Woodsmall's Books (February 26th, 2012 at 18:26)

    Cindy Woodsmall's Books

    Linda- Cindy Woodsmall writes fiction. “Scent….” is her newest book. There is already a waiting list for it at my local library. She is quite a good writer, with believable characters and plausible events. There are a couple of writers of Amish fiction that are not.

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    Comment on Webinars??? (February 26th, 2012 at 18:31)


    Erick- In the future is there any way you could post a webinar or video streaming of this type of program that was held at Kutztown? I would have loved to been there, since my great grandparents were Old Order, but I live in the Southwest U.S.

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    Marilyn fron NY
    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 27th, 2012 at 07:41)

    I just finished Cindy Woodsmall’s book The Scent of Cherry Blossoms last night. I would have loved to have been at Kutztown. If there is a tape, DVD, etc. of that , I would love a copy. I do know the Mennonites were founded first and the Amish left the Mennonites and started their own religion. The Amish thought the Mennonites were getting too worldly. That’s what an Old Order Mennonite friend told me, anyway.

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    Comment on Amish Division (February 27th, 2012 at 08:01)

    Amish Division

    According to “Mennonites in Europe” book, copyright 1942, the Amish split from the Mennonites because of the “Avoidance” practice of excommunicated members-Amman apparently felt those that followed Menno, were too mild on this practice and there was a great controversy in Germany dividing the church and Menno tried to keep this disruption from happening (started in 1693) and it seems this has carried on through to present time-

    Any former Amish can correct this, this was a book written by a Mennonite and is amazingly thorough in the history of the Reformation, Anabaptists-and all that was going on in that part of Europe at the time. Author is John Horsh. Mine is a very old old copy I stumbled on but I notice they sell new ones in the Anabaptists bookstores today.

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    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 27th, 2012 at 08:43)

    Some information on the Old Order Mennonites can be found at:

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    Kathy Rowe
    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 27th, 2012 at 08:54)

    Do you know if we can obtain a transcrpt, DVD or whatever of that Kutztown meeting? Would be very interesting to read. Thanks for anything you might be able to find out for us.


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    Comment on Old Order Insights at Kutztown University (February 27th, 2012 at 08:56)

    Loved reading the blog, as well as what the others thought.

    I’d love to see these kind of things on PBS, and I’m anxiously waiting to watch the Amish program on Tuesday!

    Keep us informed, Erik!

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    Comment on Old Order Origins (from GAMEO) (February 27th, 2012 at 09:02)

    Old Order Origins (from GAMEO)

    Weaverland Conference Mennonites are an Old Order Mennonite group that began in Weaverland, in East Earl Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Weaverland group is also called the Horning Mennonites, after Bishop Moses Horning (1871-1955). It was founded on 6 October 1893, when Bishop Jonas H. Martin and Deacon Daniel Burkholder, with several hundred followers, withdrew from the Lancaster Mennonite Conference (MC). It was founded as a measure of protest against the innovations that came into the Mennonite Church at that time, especially Sunday schools, solemnizing marriages of nonmembers, church charters, and modern church furnishings and buildings.


    After some Amish congregations in states farther west began to erect meetinghouses, the Lancaster Amish gradually (1877-1882) divided into two main groups: the “Church Amish,” which adopted the name Amish Mennonites, and the “Old Order Amish.”


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    Comment on "Old Order" label (February 27th, 2012 at 09:13)

    "Old Order" label

    In the book, “Tradition & Transition” by Paton Yoder, the Amish split of the 1860’s was described in detail. The split came about over a new practice of minister meetings. Those that accepted the new practice drifted out of the Amish towards the Mennonites, while those that rejected the new meetings, and clung to tradition became known as the “Old Order”. Many communities of Amish drifted out and became Mennonites by about 1900. Those that had remained Amish were called Old Order Amish by that same time.

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    Comment on Recording of Kutztown Amish/Mennonite talk (February 27th, 2012 at 09:19)

    Recording of Kutztown Amish/Mennonite talk

    Thanks to everyone who shared on this most interesting talk. Just a quick response for those who asked, this event was not recorded but it sounds like future ones might be, especially seeing the interest people have taken.

    However there is a recording to a previous talk of James Weaver at Kutztown U which is available at this link:


    You’ll see it at the upper left sidebar of the page. It’s a 2.5 hr talk from last January on the Old Order Mennonites which James gave at KU’s Rohrbach Library.

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