The Gemeinde Register
Do you know who’s under the weather in your community, who just had a baby, or where to get a good deal on a sewing machine?
If you were Amish and received the church newsletter, you’d have all this information at your fingertips.
While wider-audience papers like the Budget and Die Botschaft have multi-state and national reach, papers such as the Lancaster Gemeinde Brief (covering Lancaster County and some related settlements) or The Grapevine (Iowa churches) provide news and useful information for a tighter web of churches.
The Ohio Gemeinde Register
For example, the Gemeinde Register describes itself as “A bi-weekly church paper serving the Amish community of Ohio.” The one I’m holding right now, from February of 2013, is 16 pages long.
It contains sections including “Notices”, a Youth Singing Schedule (for seven groups), and a “Showers” section for those with health problems, accident victims, widows, or others in need of cheering (there are over two dozen shower suggestions in this issue).
The Notices section includes information on lost items, a blood drive schedule, info on gatherings such as a special education teachers meeting, and rides/riders-wanted requests.
The largest section, with six pages, is the church report, including information on where services were held the previous two Sundays (for 200+ church districts), Bible readings, and which ministers were visiting.
There are also over five pages of Classified Ads in the back. This is the place to look to find everything from Mutza suits to disaster relief supplies to 24-ton log splitters for rent. You can come here to hire a 15-passenger van & driver, find someone to prepare your income taxes, get a rebuilt Maytag wringer washer, or rent a wedding trailer.
My favorite of the ads: during 2013, New Bedford Care Center celebrated its 10th anniversary. In recognition of the milestone, throughout the year, “the 10th birth of every month will be free.” If you’re wondering, regular price is $1,800 if paid in 10 days (food costs extra). That’s quite a nice deal.
The last page also contains a “Thank You Notes” section. This is where recipients of showers and other kindnesses can express their gratitude.
Three sections have German titles. Geburten announces births, listed by church district. Krankheit & Unglück shares illnesses and accidents, and Sterbefälle, deaths (interestingly, only these three “cycle-of-life” sections are titled in German).
This issue also contains two religious/inspirational sayings, tucked into spare space at the bottom of columns: “It is better for me to die on behalf of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth” and “It is good to teach, if he who teaches also acts.”
Tying together a community
I’m not Amish, but I can see how these newsletters would help tie together a community.
The churches listed are not just those of one particular affiliation in the Holmes County settlement. The listings of illnesses, injuries, and shower needs reminds the reader of the fragility of life and how we must depend on one another. The births section heralds the newest generation of future church members. Not to mention the useful nature of the classified and notices sections and the causes and business relationships they promote.
We often admire the Amish for their sense of community. Building and maintaining a meaningful community takes a lot more than putting out a newsletter. But it certainly doesn’t hurt–especially once your community numbers hundreds or thousands of members.
Note: Scam Alert & Sterbefälle sections from different Gemeinde Register issues, photos by ShipshewanaIndiana
Very interesting. Really enjoyed reading this and learning more about the Amish…
One thing we depend on in The Gemeinde Rigister is also where church will be next time and what scriptures. We watch this to see if church will be at friends or relatives home so we can plan to attend. In a separate register, the songs that go with each district’s planned scriptures are listed, so men can brush up on the songs that will be sung, for visiting men are often asked to lead a song.
Where church will be
“Bestellt An”, correct Mark?
I also see “Tauf” and one “Neugeburt” listed in place of readings for some churches. Are these both to do with baptism?
Yes, Erik. “Bestellt An” is basically “church is announced to be at…”
Tauf is baptism, “Neugeburt” is “new birth”.
Thanks, Mark. That’s what Google Translate told me for Neugeburt, but wasn’t sure what was meant by “new birth” in this context. I only saw it listed once, for what I’m just guessing is a New Order district (has a district# in the 200s).
As far as I know, both Old & New Order churches in our area would have the Neugeburt scriptures in conjunction with baptism. These scriptures are John 3 and Romans 6. Quite a few of the scripture readings are known by names, such as Matthew 24 & 25 are known as “Welt End” scriptures, or “End of the World,” and Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 as “Obrigkeit” or “Government” scriptures. So when the Register lists the selected readings under a label, we know which ones they will be. And yes, a district in the 200’s would be New Order. At certain times of the year, like baptism in spring & fall, you’ll see the same readings showing up in the majority of listings.
In this issue the readings were probably 60-70% Matthew 8-9. Thanks for the explanation, I didn’t realize that Tauf and Neugeburt were meant as labels for a set of readings.
got a giggle...
At the “New Bedford Care Center” comment. I grew up in a New Bedford, but it’s a moderately-sized city in Massachusetts and so NOT Amish! It’s a former mill town going through the process of revitalization attempts, as so many other towns in New England are.
Yes, this New Bedford is decidedly different from the one you are talking about. It’s basically a crossroads on the south side of the community, rather off the beaten path. There are a few businesses including a country store.
Is it possible for a non amish person to subscribe to The Grapevine?
Also in the a paper that covers the Minnesota Amish?
I travel a bunch in Iowa and Missouri where The Grapevine is used by many. Amish people asked me time and time again if I got The Grapevine, so I finally sent in the $18.50 (or such) and requested to get it. I was informed by the gentleman that runs the paper back in late November 2014 that they worry that the wrong element will get the paper so they don’t allow English to receive it. He went on to mention one person that he knew that always had alcohol on their breath when they met that wanted to get it. So he felt that if had to deny one English person he would have to deny them all.
*shrugs* It’s their paper, but it would have helped me take advantage of functions where they raise money for their schools and medical bills and such.
Tom in Lincoln
I deal in used used horse drawn machinery, used machinery parts and also new old stock pre 1945 horse drawn machinery parts and though that it would maybe be a good place to put and ad in or also find ads of amish looking for parts if you would like you can call me at 320-468-6474, Kevin
Have you thought about advertising in The Budget or Die Botschaft? Another option, at least for Ohio, would be “Just Plain Values,” an advertising & news magazine that goes only to Amish homes in Ohio. You’d reach a wider field than just in the Register. Also, I wonder if the machinery you are describing would maybe be more like the Swartzentruber Amish use, and few if any of those get the Register. If you need contact info., I’m sure I could find some for you.
I listed that I was trying to get “The Grapevine” magazine. It turned out that I was not able to. The Amish fellow running it said they had some problems with someone showing up at events with alcohol on their breath, and some other issue that I can’t remember right now. That person had a subscription and they decided not to make that mistake again. *shrugs* One bad apple spoiled the bunch I guess. It’s their magazine so they can do with it as they please. It sure would have helped me stay on top of the events Amish folks have that they invite English people to.
Tom in Lincoln
That’s too bad to hear that, and a little strange that they had someone showing up in that state. But yes, their publication, so they can do as they please with it. Thanks for sharing, Tom.
I think one concern about sending these papers out to the non-Amish public, at least in a heavily touristed area like Holmes Co., would be the people who run tours, etc. would know where to find weddings, funerals, etc. and exploit those events for tourism.
In June of last year we attended a wedding in our neighborhood and one of those tour companies had learned about it. During the wedding ceremony a tour-bus stopped along the road and as the ceremony was held in a shop right beside the road, the people could get a good view of a “real Amish wedding.” Sadly, the exchange of vows was drowned out by the bus motor while exhaust filtered in through the open windows and camera flashes twinkled away like fireflies. (Fortunately the bride, who is such a cheerful person, said it did not totally ruin the event, saying, “I’m still married and the bus motor covered up the sound of my heart pounding.)
Though many people would not use the Register for commercial purposes, the fact that some do might be cause for concern.
Benefit auctions are usually widely advertised. The Budget is a good place to watch for those.
I read your comment, Mark, to my son, Mark. He said that he is thankful and relieved that Belle Center does not have the tourist traffic of Holmes County and he hopes it never does. At least the tour bus didn’t open its doors and let everybody out so they could just “gate crash” the wedding.
Had it been a Swiss Amish wedding, where they served alcohol, those doors of the bus might not have been enough to hold some of us English back. *smiles*
It is rather odd that the people on the bus, or the driver or such would have allowed the bus to sit there as if they were on a Amish safari. I can understand English people wondering as to what was going on but that was pretty rude.
Tom, I got a laugh out of that. As for the “Amish safari” idea, it is rude. (Though it seems worse at funerals, and that has happened.) It’s like some people think “Amish Country” is an amusement park and these things are staged for their enjoyment. But before I make it sound like ALL tourists feel that way, I need to say my life has been made richer by many of the nice people I have met who are respectful and courteous. One lady who went on such a tour later told some Amish people she would not have gone if she knew what it would be like and she was embarrassed at how the bus stopped in front of people’s homes, etc. She said she wanted to sink WAY down in her seat. We’ve heard many people say things like that over the years.
Mark, I’m so sorry that this sort of thing happens. Thinking about if it had been my own wedding just about brought tears to my eyes. On the other hand, I can relate to the very deep craving that many in the world have for a glimpse of something more wholesome than what they know and experience on a daily basis. Even I have a hard time sometimes not objectifying the Amish, even though I have faith, a good plain church, Amish friends, a wholesome rural lifestyle, etc etc.
Well said, Naomi. We sometimes need to be reminded WHY some people are so interested in our communities.
Just read the obituary for Suzie Swartzentruber. 13 children, 88 grandchildren, 292 great-grandchildren! This one lady, in her 92 years on earth, helped populate the equivalent of a church district, I would think.
Alice Mary–you make a good point about populating an entire church district by Suzie! But notice how she had 13 children, but those 13 only had 88, about seven each, and those 88 have had 292 children up to today, about four each! To what do we attribute this change in production? Smaller quivers? Ps. 127:4,5. “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them….”
I assume you are not thinking this all the way through. Those 13 children “might” be old enough to have more children, but let’s assume not. The 88 are bound to have more and the 292 are for sure going to have many.
The only way you could truly figure the numbers is maybe a century later once you can see what you really have.
Tom in Lincoln
I had the same thought as you Tom. The 88 grandchildren’s families are not yet all “completed families”. More children are coming which may make the per-child average significantly higher than around 4 (though I’m also going to guess that while the original 13 children may have all been Amish, that some of those 88 are probably not Amish, which likely means smaller sized-families).
I also think Suzie with 13 children was an outlier, on the higher end even for her time.
That said I think Leon’s larger point holds true as average Amish family size in some places has declined, such as Holmes County (an article in the latest JAPAS issue happens to have a study supporting a decline in family size at least in part of that settlement).
And that aside, I get your main point Leon referring to Scripture, about valuing large families.
Can I get a subscription to this newsletter?
How much would it cost.
I need some help with finding little flyers or bi-weekly church magazines in OH, KY, PA and New York. Like the Gemeine Register is for a certain area, what does New York use for their church reports? We use Die Blatt.
Mark, I got a kick out of your comments on the wedding. That would have been quite the experience.
Thank-you in advance for any help you can give me!
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