Amish in Holmes County and Lancaster County have closed their schools. Holmes County churches were suspended Sunday. That appears to be the case going forward with Lancaster-related settlements as well.

Meanwhile in northern Indiana, children remained in school this week. And now following a meeting of bishops, church will continue as well. From The Goshen News:

On Friday night, the bishops in a tri-county area of the Amish community had a meeting to discuss COVID-19 and their response to it.

Bishop Marvin Kauffman, of District 67-2, said they will abide by what the government mandates. People should stay home and limit gatherings such as funerals and weddings, he said. The bishop explained that people who are not closely related to a person who died or to the bride and groom should stay home.

Amish buggies in Elkhart County, Saturday. Photo: Sheila Selman/The Goshen News

On church:

Church is a different manner for now. On Sunday, the district had church as usual. There are 26 families in the district. They meet in each other’s homes for church, Kauffman explained.

“We’re not inviting other districts,” he said. “We’re encouraging people who are sick to stay home.”

Kauffman said the Amish districts will respect what the government mandates and each district will decide what they want to do, “but the church is the most important thing.”

Why are they not suspending services?

Kauffman said it’s important to go to church to “hear God’s word, be encouraged and be led in the right direction.” It’s also good to encourage younger people, he added. “It’s a body of Christ.”

Kauffman said that it’s in times like these that the church needs to be together more than ever. “The church is about getting together and God’s word.”

Finally, the bishop cautions against fear:

As for himself, Kauffman said, “I’m not afraid of the coronavirus.” He knows he can get it and possibly die from it. “But it’s God’s way of taking me out of it and I’m not scared at all,” he said.

What the bishop, who was making cabinets in his workshop Saturday, said he is concerned about is the world’s response to the virus — the fear.

“Stay calm and if one of us dies from it, it’s God’s plan,” he said. “It’s the trying of our faith to see what we’re really made of.”

I find these different responses to the coronavirus issue worth noting.

Northern Indiana is arguably the most progressive of the “Big Three” Amish communities.

But as of now, they have placed the fewest restrictions on their formal gathering venues (church-related events and school).

Bishop Kauffman closes with a message for everyone:

“Stay calm and don’t let fear rule you. Fear comes from the devil, not God. God always takes care of his people. Even through tribulation, God is always there and ever present. That’s where the strength is in getting us through.”

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