I just got back from Poland, all in one piece.  Hey, it’s hot here!  As we were landing, the captain came on the intercom to let us know the temp awaiting us below in Raleigh: 100 degrees.

That brought a few gasps from my cabin-mates, but I think I smiled a little.  If you just spent most of July in a hooded sweater, toting an umbrella, triple digit temps sound pretty good.  Maybe I’ll be singing a different tune in a couple of days, though.

There are a few stories I wanted to bring to your attention.  The first, I’m afraid, is a sad one:

6th NY Amish funeral today

Victims of last week’s crash in New York were buried last Friday and Saturday.  Since then a sixth person has died, 39-year-old Elva Hershberger.  Her funeral will be held today.  Elva’s husband Melvin died in the original wreck.  With Elva’s death, the couple leave behind 13 children.  It’s unclear what will become of the orphans.  More on that here.

Amish are known for their strong support networks.   But the townspeople of Jasper have been doing their part, preparing food and trying to do what they can to show support to the Amish community.

Here’s a report that the Jasper High School gym has been turned into a makeshift camp, with 200 cots for Amish funeral attendees.  Many Amish are expected,  from as far away as Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin.  So the extra beds may come in handy.  One quote from the piece:

Robert Mattison of Jasper Ambulance says the families want to thank the thousands of people who have reached out to them.

“Amish men come with tears in their eyes, saying they don’t know how they can repay the community,” said Mattison.

I’ve seen a number of similar responses from Amish reported in other news outlets.  For those that wish to send cards or donations, here is an address:

Amish Relief Fund

Community National Bank

P.O. Box 123

Woodhull, N.Y. 14898

The Stoltzfus House gets a barn

We’ve covered the Stoltzfus House here a number of times.  The Reading, PA home is an early residence of Nicholas Stoltzfus, 18th-century ancestor of 98% of Lancaster Amish.  Stoltzfus’s descendants, Amish and non-Amish, have taken a strong interest in preserving the structure, which had in recent years fallen into disrepair.

stoltzfus house readingI visited the Stoltzfus House last summer while assisting a crew working on the recent History Channel “How the States Got their Shapes” series.  The footage they shot at the house apparently wasn’t used in the final cut, but the visit itself was quite enjoyable, despite everyone getting attacked by roving swarms of bugs (I wonder if they had anything like bug spray in Nicholas’ time).

The Stoltzfus House restoration project has sought to preserve the home, plus add on a barn which will serve as facilities and a heritage center.   After first getting the funds raised, a replica barn has now been raised as well.

It looks like another film crew managed to record the event.  National Geographic was on the scene, so you’ll probably be able to watch an Amish barn-raising in process in a future edition of one of their Amish series videos.   You can read about the new barn, as well as some old-timers’ barn-raising recollections, here.

Horse and Buggy Mennonites

If you’re interested in horse and buggy Mennonites, the University of Winnipeg is the place to be in October, where the conference “Anti-Modern Pathways: ‘Horse and Buggy’ Mennonites in Canada, Belize, and Latin America” will take place.

horse buggy mennonite conference winnipeg“Horse and buggy Mennonites” would include both what are known as Old Order or Team Mennonites, found in Lancaster County, Ontario, northern Indiana, and a number of other places.

The “horse and buggy” label also includes the Old Colony Mennonites, found primarily in Mexico and South America.  The Old Colony people are actually the second largest Plain Anabaptist group, following the Amish.

The conference will be held October 21-22;  our friend and occasional Amish America interviewee Donald Kraybill will be giving the keynote address in what looks like a schedule packed with interesting talks.

Here’s some more info from the University of Winnipeg:

A great deal of scholarly attention has been directed to Amish farm communities, mostly located in the United States. These ‘horse and buggy’ people are held up as models of anti-modernity, a people close to nature, rooted in large families and close-knit communities, emphasizing humility, discipleship, forgiveness and other spiritual values. They have their share of social problems, but they are known especially for their communitarian faith, simple lifestyle, plain dress, dependence on animals and traditional technologies. They especially learn from wisdom passed down through the generations.

Canada too has its ‘horse and buggy’ traditionalists. Some 4000 so-called ‘horse and buggy’ Old Order Mennonites live in southern Ontario. An additional 70,000 similarly traditionalist, Canadian-descendant Old Colony Mennonites have settled in Central and South America. They live in close-knit agrarian communities in English-speaking Belize and Spanish-speaking Mexico, Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. Both the Old Order and the Old Colony people practice anti-modern pathways, but they are the subjects of much less attention than the Amish, and often they are either misunderstood or ignored.

This academic conference examines the culture of both the Old Order Mennonites of southern Ontario and the most traditionalist of the Old Colony Mennonites of the Americas. It seeks to understand their ways, their perspectives, their relationships, and their religious faith in historical context. This history conference asks how it has been possible for these anti-modern people to survive in the modern world. It examines both the accomplishments and the social problems associated with anti-modern pathways.

The conference highlights studies by scholars from throughout Canada and Europe who have recently analyzed the ways of the Old Order and Old Colony Mennonites.

More info on the conference can be found here.

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