Joining the Amish after 50?

If you’re thinking you’d like to join the Amish, odds are it’s the wrong decision.

As we’ve discussed many times (see “If you left the English, what would you gain?“), there are too many challenges for most people to adopt an Amish life.

Still, some kindle a desire to become Plain.  Many are younger individuals.  But sometimes it’s older adults.  A few days ago Don Curtis wrote about a relative of his on the “So you want to join the Amish” post:

I just thought you’d like to know that “Outsiders” do indeed join the Amish. I know this, for sure, because my son joined the Amish. He was no teenager either. He was 50 when he joined. He’ll be 59 the end of next month. He waited until he retired from teaching public school.

He got to know the folks in the community that he is no a part of almost 25 years ago when he got the opportunity to visit an Amish school. Over the years he just became more and more a part.

The handful of people I’ve met who have joined the Amish have all been younger to early middle-age.  On that point, Don’s comments made me recall a conversation I had recently.

older amish scooter

Some Catholic religious orders (ie, monasteries and convents) have upper age limits.  From what I understand, there are a few reasons.  One is adaptability.  Another is a person’s productivity levels as they get older.  Sounds cold but it is a reality in a close-knit self-supporting group.

In my mind, 50 is hardly old.  And even though I still have a ways to go to the half-century mark, I can understand what they mean about “adaptability”.

I’ll be 33 this month.  Thinking back a decade to my 23-year-old self, there are just many more things now that I’m less flexible about.  Opinions, beliefs, heck, I’m even less tolerant about the toppings on my pizza.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Seems like this natural tendency would make it that much more difficult to leave non-Amish life behind.  How has Don’s son taken to Plain living?

As far as changing to Amish ways. He looks, talks, and lives Amish. He can jabber away in Pennsylvania Dutch and I can’t understand a word they’re saying. I tell him he should speak English when I am around. He says he does unless it’s something he doesn’t want me to know about. Hmmm. That’s comforting!

Mark has two horses and several different kinds of buggies. That’s the one thing I’m not really comfortable with. I’m a 100% city boy. Riding in a buggy pulled by a big horse scares me. If he takes it in his head to run off all you’ve got to control him with are two little strings coming from his mouth. Doesn’t reassure me.

I hear you Don.  If I shout “stop” at the top of my lungs is he gonna listen?

One more interesting thing Don heard:

 As my son always says, “Being Amish isn’t for everybody. Not even for all of the Amish. But it was right for me.”

One out of 100 (or is it higher?) people who attempt to join the Amish will do so successfully (meaning not just join, but stay with the church).

Don’s son has apparently been Amish nearly a decade. He’s one of the minority, and given his age, even rarer. We might not be as adaptable as we get older, but perhaps the decisions we make are in fact wiser ones.

Photo credit: cadfael1979

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    135 Comments

    1. Sue D

      Amish Communities in UK?

      Hi,This years has been very hard, personally, my mother died in September of this year, and I now feel it is time for me to join a church of some description. I have started to become intruged by The Amish people ever since my youngest daughter bought me a novel, I have quite a few Amish information books as well as a prayer book that I use all the time and a bible. I love this site as well because anything I wish to find out about – the answers are always here. I live in Basildon, Essex and am just wondering if there is anyone out there that could point me in the right direction?

      1. Gisa

        Hello Sue, did you already contact the Amish-Mennonites of Dunmore East? http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/unique-irish-community-the-amish-of-dunmore-east-26794029.html

    2. Sue D

      Amish Communities in UK?

      Hi Gisa,
      I have been on the Dunmore East site, but I haven`t contacted anyone as yet, I have also been on the Mennonite site. Do you think it would be worth a try?

      Many Thanks
      Sue

      1. Gisa

        You could call and your are welcome to visit the Sunday service: Dunmore East Christian Fellowship, Kilmacquague, Dunmore East, Waterfront; Phone: 051385703

    3. Sue D

      Amish Communities in UK?

      Hi Gisa,
      The only problem about getting there is, that it`s a long way from where I am, I was hoping for something a bit nearer, unless I can do it online maybe?

      1. Gisa

        Hi Sue, the Bruderhof communities (http://www.churchcommunities.org.uk) are much nearer.

    4. karen easter

      lack of information

      i am interested in renting from an old order amish family in lancaster pennsylvania, either a room or an unused dawdi house. i am willing to live by the rules and help out. i have always had an interest in the amish community. when we lived in maryland we went up to lancaster county on the weekends to the markets and just to drive the back roads stopping at local stands. since the loss of my husband i have sought the peace and direction i find when i read the books about amish life. the lack of electric or phone or a car is the least of it. these are just material things. more important is my spiritual. i have been unable to contact anyone to help me. all i want is the name of several bishops in the area to write to to ask for help. thank you and have a good day. karen easter–apt.304–60 doughty road lawrenceburg. indiana 47025. please write to me if you can help me.

      1. Elaine Louderback

        Hello Karen….I too am a seeker….and I just turned 60. I would love to learn more of your journey. My sister in Christ and I both yearn for this simplified life….don’t even know if possible at this age….thank you

      2. Samantha

        Joining the Amish in Indiana

        Hello Karen,
        If you are looking for a rental space from the Amish, why look in PA? You live just minutes from old order Amish communities in Switzerland Co. I have Amish friends that live in the old order community and they are the nicest, most friendly people I have ever met. Have you ever considered trying close to where you live now?

      3. Joining Amish after 50

        Hello, Karen,
        I saw your comment about wanting to live with an Amish family. I am not Amish, nor do I have a family in mind that could help you. I am inquiring as to whether to not you found a family to live with and to ask how it went (or how is it still going if that is the case)?
        I’d love to hear more. Would it be ok to write to you?
        Sincerely, Melissa

    5. Mary Sale

      about joining an amash group

      Look, I have grown up mostly Amish all my life, I know the work and the kind of life, and aside from me not wanting to kill any animal. I can do it. so where can I hook up with an Amish community. I grew up on a small farm, no phones,without electricity and electronics, wood stove, and we even had to haul water, so we probably had it harder then some Amish families.I am already christian and My mother and I would like to hook up with some Amish in Mt or Id, is there anybody out there who will help us?

    6. Charles

      After 50, but willing to convert.

      I am single and over 50, I have never been married but I feel as if God has been telling me that I should not be worldly anymore because it only makes life more hard for me. I feel him telling me that I belong in the Amish church. I know for sure that I will be much more happy as a christian to live the rest of my life in a manner that is devoted strictly to my church, family, and service to others. I have an interest in the Amish of Charlotte Michigan. Can anyone give me the names of the best persons to contact there. At this point I am still trying to keep this fairly confidential because of my own family relationships and that is why I am relying on websites like this to give me the information I need.

    7. Robert W. Pappenfotrt

      would like to Join the Illinois Amish or Indiana Amish. or Northeast Missouri Amish.

      I am 71 and very healthy. Divorced from the Roman Catholic church. Our family is from North East Missouri. I have a degree in Chemical Engineering and enjoy farming and teaching music and chemistry of course. The best way to contact me is by Cell Phone or Text 254 493-7382. I also enjoy traveling by Amtrak. Currently located in Texas. I have three adult children. one man and two women the youngest is 23 and the older is 35.

      1. Deb

        It looks like...

        It looks like,from all accounts here, that one must simply insert themselves into an Amish community, since they will not seek you out,or respond to inquiries. I’m curious if you & your wife have converted to Anabaptism? To join the Amish, requires devotion to their beliefs. I’m single & 63,& long for a simple, farm way of life, where I can grow in my faith,& be part of a close-knit community. At our stage in life, I’d guess we would also need to be pretty self-sufficient, to be accepted. I’m certain they wouldn’t want to take on needy elders. Seems those communities that are New Order, may be more open to outsiders.

    8. After 50 but willing to convert

      I am 57 and I’ve all my life or ever since I heard what they where all about starting around the age of 17-18 years of old.Felt a pull to the them I’ve only really started searching out god in the past two years.and that just made my pull towards them stronger. I’ve never been lazy and love to work the problem I have is im in a power wheelchair and need electricity to power my chair I’ve was a carpenter for some 35 years and because of the pain that I’m in everyday I would need power tools to do any work and presently I am not able to work because I do not have a shop or tools to do any work I maynot be fast at what I do but I do take much pride in my work in that I don’t believe in doing a poor job. I. E. (If your gonna do something do it right)and I just realized the word I used (pride) may not be the best word to use when talking about joining the amish and mainstream religious beliefs do not fit with my belief I just find it hard to believe that being one of God’s children is as easy as mainstream makes it out to Be. I think it requires a little extra effort, (working hard, attending church everytime the doors are open, living and associating yourself with other Christians,etc etc.)my wife and I are also raising three of our grandkids.if I decide to do this I would be leaving them as I’m the only one who is interested in the Amish and their beliefs and their lifestyle.i receive a check for my disability from Social Security disability and I know they don’t believe in collection social security so there is another block for me. So most of the questions I have about joining may only be able to be answered by the community that I would be looking to life in. Question one. Can I receive my ssi check if I join, Question two.can they accommodate my electrical needs for my disabilities.Question three. Could I use power tools in order to earn a living. Those are the three most important ones all the others would be easy to work out because I love there belifes they align with with my belifes in god, and there life style. Can anyone give me any idea of rather they would accept me with the problems that I have.

      1. Joining the Amish After 50

        I’m sorry you’re not in the best of health, physically, but, it sounds as though you’re running away from your responsibilities. I think you have a romanticized notion of the Amish and their lifestyle. Why don’t you share your thoughts and plans with your pastor to see if you can’t find spiritual fulfillment within your own community? In your situation, you might become someone’s burden. Have you considered going back to school?

    9. Bill Unsell

      Want to join the Amish.