Amish Seventh-Day Adventists? A Look At The West Salem Mission

Do you remember the “Amish Seventh-Day Adventists“?

Andy and Naomi Weaver, former members of a Swartzentruber Amish church, were featured in a post here two years ago.

They had been interviewed for an article and Seventh-day Adventist television program, telling the story of how they left the Amish for the Adventist faith.

Not long ago I came across another video on YouTube connected with the Weavers. This is on the West Salem Mission, Andy and Naomi’s church.

In it, the narrator briefly describes Amish life, and then notes that “the hearts of many of them are struggling.”

As a result, “the Amish church has been shaken to its very foundations, and many are leaving its fold.”

The video paints a bleak picture of life in an Amish church, describing how many are yearning for something more, breaking the rules openly or secretly.

But, if they leave their communities, they lack the support and knowledge to make it in a modern world.

“And that is where the West Salem Mission comes in” the narrator explains, as the video abruptly changes tone.

The video is titled “West Salem Mission Promo”. Clearly they are reaching out to the local Swartzentruber community (the church lies in the midst of the Lodi, Ohio Amish, one of the largest Swartzentruber settlements).

In fact, this is the main objective of the church as described in the Google search results (“The West Salem Mission is dedicated to providing the Amish who are leaving the Amish church with truth and comfort.”)

“Its purpose is to reach the Amish in the community who may be struggling, by giving them spiritual help,” the narrator explains, “as well as becoming their new companions, as they segregate from the Amish church.”

It’s unclear to me how aggressively they are recruiting Amish out of the church – or if they are simply out there “existing” as a known alternative for Amish potentially dissatisfied within their old community.

Andy Weaver in the original article did say that “God willing, it will be the first Amish Seventh-day Adventist Church that we know of.”

On launch of the church in 2015, the goal was “sharing the Bible’s full message with others in the community.”

Many of the people featured in the video appear to be of an Amish background.

In fact I was struck at how “Amish” in some ways the church feels, at least outwardly.

The members dress in Amish clothing, and sing what seems to be Ausbund hymns. The children’s school has a very plain, Amishesque look to it. “I really liked the Amish lifestyle a lot when I grew up,” says Andy in another video, “but I never found peace in the Amish religion.”

The narrator explains that the church meets every other Saturday – interesting, in that it apparently mimics the every-two-weeks church schedule which Amish are accustomed to.

This, even though Adventists traditionally meet weekly (note: confusingly, the West Salem Mission website says differently, that church is held weekly). Obviously Saturday as worship day is a fundamental difference.

Like the Charity churches or the Latter-Day Saints Amish conversion efforts in Ohio, this is a church presenting itself as a faith home alternative for Amish people who’ve been excommunicated, or are dissatisfied in their current circumstances.

Keeping some of the same cultural and religious traditions – dress, song, and so on – no doubt makes the transition to a different church body easier.

There is comfort in these things, material and cultural familiarities which make adapting different modes of faith and worship easier.

“I…did not really have a problem with the rules,” explains Andy. “I just thought that we should have a closer walk with God.”

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    24 Comments

    1. Rebecca Smith

      Community Accessibility

      Hi,
      I am baptized SDA many years ago but have not been able to attend church because of the contaminated lifestyle of popular culture. Toxic agents from chemicals, including air fresheners and perfume, and radiation, including from electricity and wireless technologies, make me sick rather quickly. I am existing in a city within an apartment lined with aluminum foil to help keep the wireless frequencies out. I keep the circuit breakers off as much as possible except to operate the adapted computer for communication, and to operate the fans and electric kitchen when necessary. I feel good when away from toxins and enjoyed the outdoors, gardens, hiking where there were no power lines, electronic utility meters, cell towers, wifi, cell phones, etc. I am looking for a better remainder of life. I observe the Seventh Day Sabbath and seek the Lord’s guidance daily. I have been impressed to discard all items decorated with images in accordance with the second commandment. I have also been impressed to limit clothing to 100% Flax or 100% wool, and 100% Leather. If I had a nonelectric sewing machine to learn on, I would like to try making healthy clothing, handbags, and shoes. Is there a place for me, anywhere? I am divorced. I and my family live in Washington State, but their homes are inaccessible for more than a few minutes due to the technologies’ effects on my health. Even when they turn all of their technologies off, the neighbors’ technologies contaminate the space. I am fasting and praying for a solution. I understand Bible prophecy indicates we are at the door of the Lord’s return. I am very concerned that the health effects are not limited to me, but tearing down the health of every living thing, slowly at present for most, but many others are aware of how much they are affected like me. The effects of toxic exposures are cumulative, and the body struggles to repair the damages within the 24/7/365 toxic environment. Severe aversion to toxic agents is ridiculed by main stream industries and labeled as hyper-sensitivity, but the real medical doctor (MD) diagnosis is ‘toxic encephalopathy secondary to chemical and electromagnetic field exposure’ ICD 10 G92 There is no cure and no treatment other than avoiding exposures. When people are injected with metals and other contaminants, such as those in vaccines, and subjected to microwave irradiation by these ubiquitous electric and wireless technologies, it often eventually disables them into functional impairment. Many a premature death can be presumed to be caused by the toxic exposures, whether acute and/or long term. The many thousands of peer reviewed studies showing harms have lead me to great concerns that this rampant toxic assault is the root of the autism and Alzheimer’s epidemics and many other diseases such as diabetes and cancer, as well as environmental, insect, and other species’ declining. When I see these things, I lift up my head, for surely our redemption draweth nigh. We have this hope. Blessings to all of you, Rebecca.

    2. Teresa

      Sad

      Too bad these good hearted people are being deceived yet again by false teachers. Unfortunately, people like these can prey upon people who are unlearned in the scriptures and convince them to follow yet another man made false doctrine and not what is taught in the scriptures. Very sad indeed.

    3. Leslie Kendall

      Don't be deceived

      God said the Sabbath is the 7th day. But that’s where the Truth of the SDA Church ENDS.
      Having said that, He didn’t say what day to “worship”. We are to worship Him every day, in my opinion. We are to rest and keep the Sabbath day holy. So if someone is going to a church service on Sunday or Wednesday night, it has nothing to do with when we’re told to “observe the Sabbath day”.
      And I don’t have the energy or time it would take to go into all the reasons EVERYONE should stay as far away from the LSD as they would the devil himself!

    4. Alex Knisely

      "Fundamental"... is that the best word ?

      “Obviously Saturday as worship day is a fundamental difference.”

      Well… certainly it’s an eye-catching difference. Is it a fundamental one?

      If the principles and how those who hold them live are the same between two groups, and one elects to worship on Wednesday and the other on Monday…

      Elevating differences from quibbles to “hills I’m ready to die on”. To “fundamental” differences that make conciliation impossible.

      We’re a funny lot, we humans.

      1. Well, feels like this is getting into semantics, but the day of worship is referenced in the very name of the group (“Seventh-day”), in some sense defines their identity, and given the strong opinions one tends to see from people of different religious backgrounds on which is the actual Sabbath day, I think it’s fair to call it a fundamental difference.

        1. But in answer to your first question, I’m glad to hear any other ways to describe this. I’ve just seen this (sometimes heated) discussion about which day is the proper day of the Sabbath often enough, in the comments on this site even, that I wouldn’t think to describe it as a quibble.

        2. The day of worship can be a fundamental difference between two groups, and yet still not be a fundamental doctrine (Biblically speaking) within the eyes of most of the rest of us. Erik, I think your original terminology was accurate.

    5. Yoder in Ohio

      Some good comments here.

    6. Joseph

      Speaking of recruiting...

      This is off-topic and I apologize, but I’m curious: a co-worker of mine is from Lancaster County and she told me the other day that the Amish adopt kids left and right in order to counter the effects of inbreeding. It didn’t really have the ring of truth to me but it got me wondering how common adoption is among the Amish? Not sure how I feel about Amish adopting kids that would have so many more opportunities if they were adopted by an English couple.

      That said, I think the Amish themselves should be left in peace and not targeted by Seventh Day Adventists. Though where I live you can’t hold a tattoo convention without certain groups of Christians protesting it so I’m not surprised. Some people have nothing better to do with their lives than interfere in others’.

      1. Leslie Kendall

        Amish adoption

        I tried a quick search and didn’t find any numbers but did come across a homosexual couple looking to adopt an Amish boy. Is that the wonderful opportunity of an English couple you were thinking of? Your gut was right, the Amish don’t adopt to strengthen their gene pool. What a cruel thing for that person to say. And the Amish children are given a strong ethical background and can choose whatever life they want as an adult.

      2. Amish do adopt in some cases, sometimes those adoptions happen from within the community, as when a tragedy occurs and both parents are killed. Other times Amish adopt children from outside the community. Here are some posts which might shed some more light on the topic:

        https://amishamerica.com/a-closer-look-at-amish-fostering-adoption/
        https://amishamerica.com/amish-foster-children/
        https://amishamerica.com/12-ny-amish-orphans-adopted/

        1. Joseph

          Adoption rates

          I guess my question was, how common is it? My co-worker made it sound like every other family among the Amish were adopting children from outside and I was curious to see if that’s your experience, given how much time you’ve spent among the Amish.

          1. Joseph

            In other words,

            What percentage of Amish kids were adopted from outside, in your experience?

    7. J

      Manipulation

      I’m no expert on these SDA. But that sure is a propaganda video by the SDA.

      It’s a way to lure the Amish in.

      Of course they set up shop next to an Amish community. That’s who they are targeting to increase their numbers.

      They dress and sound Amish to help lure them in.

      They are basically saying, the Amish are flawed and we are better. So leave the Amish.

      Christianity is not a competition. Christianity is not about saying our church is better. Christianity does not judge….

      But quietly, these SDA appear to do all these things….

      Wolf in sheep’s cloth??…..

      The end of the video mentions that they need money……They target the Amish to increase their numbers so they can have more money. Surprised?

      1. GREG GWOZDZ

        I was Catholic for many years , now thank the Lord God Almighty I’m SDA.
        So I can objectively answer that SDA are not trying to infiltrate any other organization or religion, have no agenda in mind, or business to conduct or anything to sell . Their approach and now mine is -I founds something in the bible which I believe to be detrimental to your future and your salvation, I want you to take look at it and consider , if you think what I am telling you make sense , you can make your own , if not this is quite ok .What would you think if I knew you life or life of your love one was in jeopardy and told you nothing , God commissioned us to warn the world because of love, no some selfish external interests. We will warn you, what you do with it is your choice.
        With love your SDA brother . Maranatha

    8. Joseph

      Adoption

      Leslie,

      Actually, yeah, I would prefer kids be raised by English gay couples to Amish couples, in large part because I’ve known people raised by English gay couples and they are perfectly well-adjusted, and better positioned to take advantage of all the English world has to offer than Amish youth.

      And we both know that the deck is stacked against young people leaving the Amish in all sorts of ways. There’s a reason so few of them do. And that’s fine. The Amish have every right to take steps to continue their culture. But them adopting children from the English world just doesn’t sit right with me.

    9. AdventFarmer

      Clarifications on the Seventh-day Adventist Church and West Salem Mission

      Dear Erik and brothers and sisters from Amish America,

      In reading the comments on this article I felt that some clarifications needed to be made regarding the Seventh-day Adventist church and the West Salem Mission. I am not posting to be argumentative, I only want to share information that I have.
      I am a Seventh-day Adventist. Erik, I first just want to affirm your assertion that the seventh-day Sabbath is a fundamental difference; it is listed among our 28 Fundamental Beliefs.
      Second, we Adventists are a highly evangelistic church. We do not target anyone or any group, but reach out to people of all groups. The Mission was founded by Andy Weaver because he came to the Adventist belief on his own through personal study, not through being “targeted” by any Adventist.
      I’ve been to the West Salem Mission and have met Andy Weaver and his family. West Salem Mission does not hide the fact that its members are Seventh-day Adventists. Those who attend, that have come out of the Amish, do not continue to wear plain clothing and live the Amish lifestyle only to draw other Amish in, though it does make those who do come much more comfortable. They continue to live this way because it is the way they have lived their whole lives, they believe in the simple lifestyle and have not found anywhere in the Bible where this lifestyle is condemned.
      The video that is attached to this article was not meant to be viewed by the Amish, but was meant to raise awareness of the West Salem Mission within the worldwide Adventist church and to ask for prayers and support.
      Andy’s greatest wish is to see is his family and the rest of those in the Lodi community, and Amish the world over in the Kingdom.

      Blessings to all and I hope this was helpful to someone,
      AdventFarmer

      1. Thanks for sharing this perspective, AdventFarmer. My impression of Andy and Naomi is that they seem like very positive people and it seems like they would make good neighbors. Although evidently being a member of an Amish church wasn’t for him, Andy seems to have a healthy perspective on his Amish roots.

    10. Dawn Tabbert

      Our mission

      Good afternoon, and greetings from the great state of Tennessee. I am a born into the faith SDA. It is sad to see that so many people misjudge our mission and our methods of feeding the sheep of Jesus, as He commands….keep up your good works, pray for the harvest, and leave the rest to the Lord. Some of our brightest lights will go out, but we know from the SOP that our numbers will not diminish, and others will replace the ones who turn from their path. Our Lord is soon to return. We have been given all the counsel needed to follow the loving directives of our Savior. Never forget the hard road that EGW walked to complete the mission she was given. I will present what I have learned here today from the pulpit on Sabbath, and many prayers will be going upward for you and yours. Blessings. Dawn T.

    11. Larry Merritt

      Man Can Keep Any Day

      Read Romans 14:5-6
      5. One man esteemed one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
      6. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not Fe gard it,

      1. Rebecca Smith

        The Sabbath

        Ten Commandments, Sabbath or Ceremonial Law?
        Romans 14:5-6
        As with Colossians 2:14-16 and Galatians 4:9-10, there are also those who believe that Romans 14:5-6 refers to the Sabbath of the Lord. Could this be true or is this also just another misunderstanding as are the other two passages?

        Colossians 2:16, Galatians 4:10 and Romans 14:5 are in fact all related and all very misunderstood as so often seems to be the case when it comes to God’s Moral law, His Sabbath and the temporary ceremonial law which pointed to Christ. Five very respected Bible Commentaries have also been chosen to cover Romans 14:5 as they give very thorough and professional explanations on this verse…..Read More
        http://www.colossians-2-16.com/romans-14-5.html

    12. J

      That is propaganda.

      That is a propaganda video by the SDA.

      The first 2 minutes the video talks negative about the Amish. Even Eric wrote that it paints a bleak picture of the Amish.

      Slow sad music plays with lines of hearts of many are struggling and the Amish church is shaken…..

      Then, New uplifting music starts to play as they start talking about the SDA. As if the SDA is some savior. That sure is haughty. Show some humility please.

      They literally say they are there because of the Amish. To reach the Amish. That is targeting the Amish. Literally. That is recruiting to increase your numbers.

      And of course, at the end, they mention they will need money. Of course.

      This is the same kind of video politicians make……speak poorly of your opponent(Amish). Then speak positive about yourself(SDA). Then ask for campaign donations. Yep. This video does all 3.

      As a christian, you should know the bible frowns upon such behavior.

      Also, if God forgives people who lie and steal and so on….then chances are, God might be just fine if your day of rest falls on a Sunday as long as your heart is in the right place….

    13. Who Are Seventh-day Adventists?

      Seventh-day Adventists are people who love God, accept Jesus as their Saviour, pray for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and look forward to Christ’s soon return. We love others and long for them to know and experience God as revealed in His Word–the Bible. There are more than 21 million Seventh-day Adventists living in more than 200 countries of the world. We are known for our excellent hospitals and clinics worldwide, and our outstanding educational system–the largest Protestant educational system worldwide. We encourage healthy living and love people. We also have a very active non-profit humanitarian organization–the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). If you would like to learn more about who Seventh-day Adventists are, check out our website at adventist.org. Please learn for yourself who we are and what we actually believe. May God bless you.

    14. J.O.B.

      Propanganda

      Gina’s comment above is proof that the SDA are recruiting.

      That is a sales job. She is trying to target people who visit this site and lure them in.

      The SDA are run like a business. Not a church. That should be the first warning sign you notice.