5 Amish Beliefs From Lester Beachy’s Our Amish Values
What do Amish believe on evolution? Do they wear jewelry? Why do they practice footwashing?
When I was last in Holmes County, I picked up a neat little book by Lester Beachy, called Our Amish Values: Who We Are and What We Believe.
Beachy has been a tour guide in the Holmes County Amish community, “something I have enjoyed very much”, as he tells in in the introduction.
This means he’s met a lot of curious people (“curious” meaning inquisitive, not odd…though maybe he’s met those too 🙂 ) .
Beachy has been happy to help outsiders understand his people’s way of life:
Usually they have many questions. Unfortunately, there is a lot of incorrect information in some books that have been written about us. That is one reason for this book. I have covered a broad field and hope I have done justice in representing the Amish.
I look at this as an opportunity to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Many tourists want to know why we choose to live this way. I can freely share our beliefs and values with them.
This book has an A-Z format, with each letter attached to a topic of importance to the Amish – “A” is for Anabaptists, “B” for Buggy, “C” for Church, and so on.
Beachy concisely explains (on a single page) why each subject matters to his people. The accompanying photos, mostly by Doyle Yoder, are excellent. He also includes Amish baptismal and marriage vows at the book’s end.
To give you a flavor for Our Amish Values, I thought I’d share five of the values that caught my eye. I’ve added some of my own comments in places (which I hope will be clear).
Five Amish Values from Our Amish Values: Who We Are and What We Believe
1. T – Tradition
Beachy describes the value of tradition, and how it supports identity. Some have tried to completely discard tradition, but that has usually failed: “just as they threw tradition to the wind, so that same wind blew them to points hither and yon.”
Still, he sees danger in blindly following tradition: “Some traditions that crept in among us such as bed courtship were definitely not good. Thankfully, such traditions can be changed.”
This would be relevant as far as his community’s plainer Amish (Swartzentruber churches) goes. This comment reveals that Lester Beachy is a member of a “higher” church in Holmes County.
Important traditions he notes include dress, the slow hymns sung in church, and helping one another in hard times. “The list could go on and on.”
2. J – Jewelry
Dress as noted above is an important tradition for the Amish. And jewelry is strictly not a part of the Amish wardrobe. Beachy cites both Peter and Paul on the topic, both of whom testify that women should not adorn themselves in gold.
He recalls a group singing trip to New York City. A young woman they encountered observed “how pure and beautiful” the (unadorned) Amish women appeared.
One question Beachy gets is: how do they know who is married? In church services, the married and unmarried sit apart from one another.
The only exception to this that I am aware of are the cases of Amish women who might wear a copper ring or bracelet for its supposed anti-arthritic properties. But in that case, the ring is not for adornment but for health reasons.
3. E – Evolution
Amish do not believe in evolution, as Beachy plainly states in the opening to this section. They see the hand of God in every piece of Creation: “We believe that each individual is divinely planned and created, and that God has a plan for each one of us.”
Furthermore, evolution is false and harmful: “We believe evolution comes from the evil one – Satan – and that those who believe and teach it have been led astray.”
In contrast, Amish find comfort in the clarity of a literal reading of Scripture:
To us it is simply a matter of faith, of taking God at His Word. If we discard this solid foundational truth, we have no foundation upon which to stand. How anyone could really believe that everything just happened by chance and that man evolved over millions of years is totally beyond our comprehension. Taking God at His Word gives direction and hope to one’s life.
4. F – Footwashing
Amish keep the Biblical practice of footwashing. Beachy relates the story in John 13 of Jesus watching his disciples’ feet: “Having Jesus, their Lord and Master, wash their feet was a lesson in humility and servanthood.”
How does footwashing look in the Amish church?
Twice a year in our communion services, we commemorate the suffering and death of Jesus by partaking of the sacred emblems of bread and wine. And then at the end of this special day we wash each other’s feet.
Brother with brother and sister with sister, we take a basin of water and a towel and stoop down to wash each other’s feet. We are all on one level, young and old, rich and poor, feeble and strong. We are all on the same plane; no one is better than the other.
Beachy notes that this practice is following “a direct command from Jesus Himself.” You can read more on the Amish belief and practice of footwashing here.
5. K – Keeping
Keeping – as in keeping and maintaining an Amish way of life and values. This if of concern, especially with “modern technology pressing in on us from all and sides and threatening our plain lifestyle.”
Our Amish Values was published in 2013. Smartphones are even more ubiquitous now.
Lester Beachy acknowledges that they do make changes. Permitting mechanical milkers is one relatively innocuous alteration to the Ordnung fabric that has allowed many Amish to remain on the farm (contrast this with communities like Allen County, Indiana which adopted this change “too late”).
How does change occur?
When we do make a major change in church ordnung, we will vote over it. For the change to be made, we need 100% unanimity. We believe there is a lot of strength in a unified decision.
Keeping a “plain way” is about future impact:
When thinking of our children and the following generations to come, if the Lord tarries, it is well worth the effort it takes to keep our plain lifestyle. We do not base our salvation on our way of life. Instead, we choose this lifestyle because we are God’s children. We trust it will be possible to keep our plain way until Christ comes.
For that matter, Amish people seem to think about future generations more than just about any other people I’ve encountered.
Get Our Amish Values
If you happen to be in Holmes County, I picked up my copy of Our Amish Values at the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center.
You can order from them directly by emailing director[at]amheritagecenter[dot]com. Or, the mailing address is:
5798 County Road 77
Millersburg, OH 44654
Finally, you can call in if you’d like to pay by credit card: 330-893-3192. The cost is $12.99 +$3.00 shipping. There are also online sources.
While we’re at it, why not a giveaway?
Leave a comment on this post, and I’ll draw one random winner next week and send you a copy (US address).
Much to Admire
I’ve been interested in the Amish since a visit to rural Maryland in 1986. I’ve read many books and visited Lancaster, PA and Kalona, IA. I find lots to admire about the Amish, especially their thoughtful resistance to technology to preserve community, their tradition of taking care of each other in times of need, and their willingness to be different from the world while living their beliefs. This looks like another interesting book of insights to their way of life.
Our Amish Values
This sounds like an interesting book. I would love to get a copy.
A beautiful way of life, difficult for us outsiders to truly understand, but beautiful in simplicity.
A foundation for life made of stone, not sand!
Our Amish Values
I too would love a copy. I am sure it would be refreshing to read a book written by a true Amish person…straight from the horse’s mouth as it were.
I would love to read this. Thank you
Living among the Amish
I live among the Amish in a community near Hillsboro Wisconsin. I have many books I have purchased to get information and find that much of it is incorrect according to my conversations with my neighbors. I hope this book is one that gives complete and honest answers true to their lifestyle.
Our Amish Values
I am curious about Amish beliefs. Being raised Catholic…I hold many of the same beliefs…I am interested in comparing these religions…thank you for a chance to win a copy!
Our Amish Values
I have great respect for the strength of character needed for the Amish to remain apart and true to their values and traditions in the midst of our truly invasive societal progress. I’m anxious to learn more, especially from an author who remains in the Amish community. Thank you for sharing this book with us!
Our Amish Values
This sounds like a very interesting book. Please enter me in your drawing. I live in a northern suburb of Philadelphia and have visited the Lancaster area many times.
Oh I’d love to win this giveaway! I’d like to show the book to my Old Order friends here in southwestern Wisconsin and see what their thoughts and opinions are on it! Neat read. Thanks for posting so much valuable information to your site here.
It amazes me that even though I have been close friends with several Amish families for almost 20 years, I can still learn interesting facts about them and their lives from this blog, and by continually reading.
A great book to have at home. Always enjoy reading this blog.
Thanks Kim, glad to hear it!
5 Amish Beliefs From Lester Beachy's Our Amish
My husband and I have a lot of Amish friends in Holmes county.
We love them dearly and would like to know more about their beliefs.
Their peaceful way of life is so tranquil and simple.
I would love to have that in our lives.
I would like a copy
I would love a copy of the book!
It sounds like a wonderful book to read.
The Way God Intended
My mother grew up in Lancaster, PA and from her I gained an appreciation for the area and became fascinated with the Amish as a young girl. I love the Amish and their simple ways. I truly believe they have the right idea and are living in line with what God intended. As much as technology was supposed to make our lives easier, we are busier and more stressed than ever.
Our Amish Values
I have been interested in learning about the Amish & always want to learn more. I’ve stayed on 2 Amish farms & loved the experience. I got up at 5 am to watch sister & brother milk the cows & they answered any questions I had. Both farm stays were in Lancaster County. The reason I would love to win a copy of the book is because I think it would be interesting to compare the 2 communities. Have a great day & I wish everyone good luck!!
5 comments from Lester Beachy
I’m in both Clyde NY and Fort Plain, NY areas and have had many years involvement with these & other Amish neighborhoods. I observe the quiet peace of mind, the hard work of living natural, unhurried, understanding of the lifestyle & culture. An unending trust that everybody, man, plant, animal serves this earth, in one way or the other. Have not read any books on Amish style life, just observant.
I have a great interest in the Amish as my own roots contain Moravians, Mennonites and possibly Amish. This book seems a handy item to have
Always love learning more about the Amish
I love reading about the Amish and often wish I had been born into an Amish family. Their ability to stay steadfast in their beliefs and their love of God and family are so amazing compared to so many other religions and families. Your book would help me learn so much more. My husband and I have not been able to travel for many reasons, including due to our age and our health and reading is a wonderful source of information and entertainment. Thank you for the opportunity to enter your contest!
I try to get my hands on anything about the Amish, I spend 2 weeks every year with dear friends who are Swartzentruber Amish and I try to make sure I understand their faith and I am very careful to carry myself in a manner that is becoming of being in their presence ~ This book sounds Amazing!
Lisa there are two books in particular which go into greater depth on the Swartzentruber Amish which I can recommend: An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community, and New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State. Both great reads.
Although apparently educational, especially for someone who lives in the Southwest like myself, it seems that the scenic pictures would alone make this a book to cherish.
Our Amish Values
Such an interesting people the Amish are, so different from the English, and yet in many ways we are the same.
A few years ago my dear friends Noah and AnnaMary lost their son in a sawmill accident. A few weeks ago they also lost their (adult) daughter, Lucinda, to cancer.
Tears still flow for such a great loss, and I don’t know the best words to say to comfort them. I would give AnnaMary a hug, but it is not accepted in their culture to hug one another. Our Bibles appear to be similar, but if there are differences in our beliefs, I do not want to offend them unintentionally.
Perhaps this book would help to give a better understanding of what would be meaningful to them in times of great sadness?
Franci, I can assure you that the Amish I know do not shun hugs. I was raised Amish and in our community, hugs were not frowned on. My mother was big on hugs for me and my siblings. It may be that some Amish communities are not huggers. I suggest sometime when you are alone with her, just ask her if you can give her a hug. You might be surprised at her answer. Many years after I had left the Amish, my sister and I were at a viewing for one of our cousins. Viewings are always held for a few days before the funeral. They are very solemn occasions. The ladies sit in a row, usually in the large kitchen. If there are many family members, the men will sit in another room. The viewing of the body is usually held in a separate room, generally in a downstairs bedroom. It is customary to walk along shaking hands and greeting everyone. As my sister and I were walking along shaking hands with the Amish women, most of whom we didn’t know, we reached a dear friend of our deceased mother. This lady pulled us both down in an enormous hug. It did surprise me because it was in such a public setting.
Lydia, thank you for your comments! I was told that they do not hug so I did not, but I shall look for a time when others are not present. When their son, Steven, was laid out it just happened to be on a day that I went to buy eggs and so I was able to see him and the many people assembled in the rest of the house. They were very kind to allow me to be there.
I’m glad that the lady pulled you and your sister down for a big hug!
Thanks for all the information I have garnered from your blog, and I just wish I lived on the States to be able to be considered for the draw. This sounds as though it would be a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the Amish way of life, one that I admire.
Thanks Maxine! I appreciate you commenting anyway.
This book sounds wonderful.I will look forward to reading this works. Thank you for the opportunity to win.
Our Amish values
I would love to be entered into the giveaway!!
I love to visit the Amish Country.
I live near an Amish community in Oklahoma. I’m a retired veterinarian and have many Amish friends, whom I admire greatly. We could learn a lot about life from them. I would love the book.
Our Amish Values
I would love to read the book. We toured Ethridge Tennessee and I have been to Lancaster PA my goal is to visit every Amish Settlement Thanks and My God Bless You Always, Love Your Sister in Christ Lisa Moore
That’s quite a goal and would be amazing if you were able to reach it! I hope you do, or at least get close 🙂
Our Amish Values
I like that the Amish come together to take care of each other both in good times and bad.
Our Amish Values
After reading many, many books about the Amish, it would be great to add this to my collection as it has such a unique approach to the subject. I wish Amish values of community, family, hard work, and tradition were more common in our world today.
Our Amish Values
We live near a small Amish community in Rosser, Tennessee. My husband and I attend haystack suppers, auctions and Thanksgiving dinners that the Amish put on for fundraisers. One of these being for a man who was in a buggy accident. I’d love to learn more about their beliefs. Thank you for this site – I enjoy reading it.
Thanks Lee! Neat that you are able to attend those events.
I didn’t recognize the name Rosser, but then I checked and looks like that’s in Carroll County. I remembered that one of our readers shared some photos from that community, maybe you recognize some of these places: https://amishamerica.com/signs-amish-west-tennessee/
I drive for many of the Amish in Carroll and Henry Counties in Tennessee and most would be willing to answer honest interest questions. The benefits and annual school benefit auction are very popular among the entire community both Amish and non-Amish (English). The meals are always good, baked goods for dale and usually some kind of a raffle held.
I feel very honored to have been allowed to get to know several of them, learn about them and their beliefs as well as have them take an interest in getting to know and care for my family.
Would appreciate this book!
I grew up around the Dunkard–or Antibaptists–or Old Order, as they were called. As kids growing up together, we took everything at face value and never asked ‘why’ one did something different than another. I would love to read this book and compare to the customs in my community that I fondly remember.
Our Amish Values
Thank you so much for sharing I learned so much that I didn’t know about the Amish.
It’s a nice book to learn main Amish values, and would be a quick read. Also, the photos are great – Doyle Yoder is one of the best photographers of the Amish.
i enjoy reading your articles.
we have Amish in our town of Farmville Va and the local area. I would like to know more about them so that I don’t hurt their feelings or do something that they don’t like when talking to them.
Betty I actually visited the Farmville community this summer, there is a nice store there you might be aware of: https://amishamerica.com/pineview-bulk-food-deli-farmville-virginia/
I think a book like this would give you a good perspective on what’s important for the Amish, but in general I’d just suggest treating Amish like you would other neighbors or members of your church – as long as you don’t talk about offensive topics, Amish people in generally are not of the “easily offended” type. They do appreciate modesty of dress though in practice Amish in larger communities and those with certain businesses (like market stands in urban areas) are accustomed to people not following that guideline.
I am fortunate to live among many Amish here in Michigan. I admire them greatly and they hold steadfast to their beliefs and way of life. I will have to get a copy of this book.
Always looking for a good book to read. I’m in.
Yes, I would .
Yes, I would be interested in Lester Beachy’s book, AMISH
VALUES. Perhaps too a bit more about the Beachy Amish
groups around the country….
Thanks for entering me in the drawing. Sounds like a fascinating book.
I am facinated with the Amish and have visited Lancaster, PA many times. I enjoy reading about the Amish and hope to gwt this book one way or another. Thank you
Hi, your book sounds very interesting, and I’m anxious to be able to read it and would love to have this book
This is a good book that I’ve enjoyed reading. I bought my copy from the author after he led a tour of the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center at Berlin, Ohio I participated in. It is good to have such a book available about Amish faith and life written by an Amish person. (I still have my copy so don’t wish to have my name in the drawing.)
I’ve had the privilege of meeting several Amish
In Trigg county Kentucky. A small group of Anababtist that came here from Pennsylvan that is working hard to keep their families on the farm. While they have many values, its their non judgmental approach of outsiders and family values that make me want to learn more.
When I was invited to attend a council meeting, I was impressed as to how all had input and open discussion
(debate) yet never were they shamed for their point of view. Then a vote was taken, a decision is made, and that is the laws all will follow.
To think that perhaps one day, all political candidates could be that civilized.
Looks like a beautiful and informative book! Would love to be reading this soon.
Our Amish Values by Lester Beachy
Greetings from extreme southern MI! We live in the midst of an extensive Amish community, on a small farm where we also raise most of our own food, have horses that we ride & drive, & do business with many of our Amish neighbor-friends. Our group’s Bishop is a Beachy, & our first milk cow was a Beachy Guernsey that we purchased from one of his sons. 🙂 This book would be a valued addition to our bookshelves, & would be passed around the particular group we live in, as they’d enjoy reading & comparing, too! Thanks so much. As many others have commented, I too enjoy reading your blog & sharing the articles with others. 🙂
Thank you Sarah! Neat that you have those neighbors and friendships. I know Amish folks also appreciate good friendships with non-Amish neighbors. I don’t know what you mean by extreme southern MI, but I once lived for a summer in St. Joseph County.
"extreme southern MI"
2 counties east of St. Joseph county in southern Hillsdale county, right on the IN & OH lines 🙂
I have been fascinated by the Amish for many years now and take a yearly trip to Lancaster to visit and explore. I have found most Amish to understand that I am genuinely curious and not a gawker and will answer my questions. I hope to visit Holmes County, Ohio, in the next couple of years to experience a different community.
I think you’ll really enjoy comparing those two communities, Kari. I actually did the reverse – spent a lot of time in Holmes County before going to Lancaster County. You’ll definitely notice a lot of differences.
I have always been interested in the Amish people and their way of life. I have read many factual and fictional stories about the Amish and always want to read more about them. We have an Amish settlement near the town I live in and I love going to their store they have. I think their lifestyle is a beautiful testament to living simply and humbly. I wish I could be friends with them.
I bet you could be friends Lynda, once you get a chance to know each other better. One suggestion is you could offer to be an “Amish taxi” as a favor if they need a ride somewhere – that gives you a chance to spend some time and talk with someone, and Amish people usually appreciate rides (normal Amish taxi drivers are not cheap, though their services are appreciated).
What a great response to your giveaway!!
Because there are so many many different Amish churches not everything in the book may be applicable to all Amish, though it sounds like it’s probably a pretty good representation of most of them.
So much diversity
I appreciate the nook having significant credibility since the author is Amish. I wish more were willing to write about their beliefs and experiences. There seems to be a growing diversity in Amish communities and the way they apply their belief systems. Its a fascinating observation. I have Amish by me in MD, I have family near PA, DE and NY communities and we all have different experiences.
It looks like a beautiful book of sound thought
Still enjoying your posts even as I’ve moved from Kentucky to western North Carolina… and the years I’ve had to be in California tending to an ill daughter. This book sounds awesome and from what I can see the pictures are intriguing and beautiful. If my name’s not drawn, I’ll probably still opt to purchase it.
Thanks to your dedication to being a bridge between two communities of (often) faith.
I remember reading this a while back. I found it at our local library. It was a good, easy read and could be a nice introductory resource for someone curious about the Amish.