Another Amish Obituary (& Funeral Song)

Following a reader question on the topic, several months ago I shared an example of an obituary of an Amish person. Many Amish do have their obituaries posted in general news sources, even appearing online.

I came across another example today, of an Amish woman named Elizabeth Petersheim. Elizabeth passed away on Saturday.

Her obituary caught my attention for several reasons. One is that it contains Elizabeth’s smiling photo, which you can see below.

More on Elizabeth:

Born on Aug. 22, 1930 in Apple Creek, Ohio, she was a daughter of the late Moses L. Shetler and Mary (Miller) Shetler.

Elizabeth was baptized in her youth upon the confession of her faith. As a faithful member of the Gortner Amish Church, she was a follower of Jesus until she entered her eternal rest. She was an excellent homemaker and especially enjoyed serving others. She was known for her hospitality and always welcomed everyone with a seat at the table.

An avid gardener and cook, she also found joy in refinishing furniture. She loved her family, serving them unselfishly as long as she was able. She will be greatly missed!

Elizabeth is survived by her children, a son, Paul Neven and wife Naomi (Beachy), a daughter, Irene Ellen Yoder and husband Dan, a son, Edward Lewis and wife Orpha (Beachy), all of Oakland; 12 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. Also surviving are four sisters, Martha Schrock of Oakland, Ada Swartzentruber, Mary Shelter and Ella Shetler, all of Ohio; four brothers, Lewis and wife Marilyn, Levi and wife Amanda, Eli and wife Fannie, Norman and wife Carole, all of Ohio; one sister-in-law, Rachel (Stolzfus) Shetler of Virginia; and many nieces and nephews.

At age 89, Elizabeth did not have the typically large family such as the one mentioned in the bishop Monroe Yoder post. Still by English standards this would be a good-sized family and no doubt Elizabeth had many who loved her.

I also like that she “found joy” working with furniture. Amish girls and women do play a role in furniture production in some shops, often in finishing (photos of Amish women working with furniture). It sounds like it was a job or possibly a hobby for Elizabeth.

Another thing that stood out to me is that Elizabeth was a member of the Amish church at Oakland, Maryland (aka Gortner Amish Church).

This church is of the “electric” New Order grouping. They are also unusual in that they have a church building for worship, something seen in a handful of communities. This is one of the more seeker-friendly churches, one which has attracted converts.

It also reminded me of a rare recording of Amish singing at church (below).

In the video below, Amish from Elizabeth’s church sing “City of Light”. The occasion of this song is a funeral as well. The person who shared it writes:

Inside the new Old Order Amish Church on Mason School Road in Oakland,Maryland.For the funeral service of my aunt Bertha Kinsinger Zook.The Amish Youth are singing my favorite funeral song called “City Of Light” as folks filed by the Casket bearing my late aunt paying their last and final respects.Thursday July,25,2013.Bertha was the daughter of the late Stuarts Draft Old Order Amish Bishop Milt Kinsinger.

The English language song is not something you’ll see in every Amish funeral, a mark of a more progressive Amish tradition.

It’s a beautiful rendition. Maybe attendees at Elizabeth’s funeral today will hear something like it.

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    1. walter Ramer

      "New" Order Amish?

      What is the difference between an “Old Order Amish” a “New Order Amish?

      It appears that Elizabeth Petersheim was not of the “Old Order Amish” faith due to her posed picture and the fact that she attended Church services in a Church building and not in individual homes.

      1. Good question Walter. The names are tricky because “New” suggests modern or updated. This group of Amish at least at one point actually preferred the name “Amish Brotherhood”. They are plain clothes-wearing, horse-and-buggy driving, Pennsylvania Dutch-speaking Amish like any “Old Order” Amish. They believe in the same way in most areas as all other Amish. They do have some different religious characteristics – one of which is they tend to be more evangelically-minded and thus often end up attracting “seeker” outsiders.

        They also tend to be more progressive in some areas (generally more permissive of photography; they allow air travel unlike other Amish) while at the same time can be more conservative on technology in some areas compared to their “Old Order” cousins.

        At the same time, there is some diversity within the New Order churches. The community detailed in this post is one of the few “electric” churches which permits public electricity in the home. Most New Order churches do not permit this. The church meetinghouse is also not a standard feature of New Order churches but one seen in some communities.

        I hope that explains it to some degree, and for further info this post goes into greater depth on the New Order churches:

    2. Memories

      For me this is a beautiful post. It brought back memories of that hymn being sung at the Mennonite church I grew up in in Big Valley, Pennsylvania. And the photo of Elizabeth speaks volumes. Thanks for the post.

      1. Glad you liked it Lee. I’ve always liked this hymn. So uplifting.

        I was happily surprised to see the photo included with the obituary. It seems like Elizabeth must have been a warm person, just going by that smile.

    3. Lydia Good


      Oh yes, this brings back memories for me too. My mother sang all the time. This was one of her favorite songs. At my dad’s funeral, one song was in English. Many parts of the ceremony were in English too. He had many “English” friends who came to the funeral. As well as DIL’s that didn’t understand any PA Dutch or High German. One young man came to the funeral in shorts. LOL Bless his heart.

      This must be a progressive New Order congregation. A physical church house, hymn books, 4 part harmony singing. I also noticed that the older generation looked more Old Order, especially with the men and their longer beards. The younger married gentlemen have these tiny little beards and very short hair cuts. Some didn’t wear a vest or a coat. I guess this is called progress. But the women all dress according to their rules. So who makes the rules? Of course it’s the men that make the rules.