JPAC Latest Issue Out Now: Michigan Amish, PA Dutch, Old German Baptist Brethren, “Ukrainian Amish”, & More

The Journal of Plain Anabaptist Communities has released volume 4, issue 1. In this issue of JPAC, we begin a new series introducing Anabaptist research centers and their holdings and management. We begin with the Ohio Amish Library and the Geauga Amish Historical Library and will feature additional centers in the coming issues.

From the fields of legal studies, demography, socio-linguistic scholarship, and ethnographic religious studies, this issue’s research pieces demonstrate the multi-disciplinary nature of scholarship on Plain communities to be found in JPAC.

Attorney Chris Wittstruck analyzes the 2021 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Mast v. Fillmore County, Minnesota, explaining why it is, in Wittstruck’s view, a helpful supplement to the 1972 ruling in Wisconsin v. Yoder. If Yoder’s ruling relied, in part, on putting the Amish community on something of a pedestal, Wittstruck sees Mast as providing a clear defense of religious liberty that does not rely on a preconceived notion of Amish virtue.

Joe Donnermeyer, professor emeritus at Ohio State University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, uses data in the 2019 Michigan Amish Directory to provide a comprehensive picture of the Wolverine State’s Amish population, which is now the sixth largest in America.

Amish at an auction in Gladwin County, Michigan, home to two of the state’s 50+ communities. Photo: Jim Halverson

Rose Fisher, a native Pennsylvania Dutch speaker and a doctoral student in German linguistics at Penn State University, explores the role of Pennsylvania Dutch in personal identity among Amish, former Amish, and other Pennsylvania German-identifying individuals.

Finally, Tony Walsh, Jeff Bach, and Sam Funkhouser, scholars from Ireland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, present the second part of their deeply textured analysis of what makes the Old German Baptist Brethren a distinctive Plain group. (Part 1 of their study appeared in the last issue of JPAC, volume 3, issue 2).

This issue’s Fieldwork and Reflections section includes two pieces that relate to current events. Donnermeyer, Erik Wesner, editor of the website Amish America, and Dee Jepsen, professor and safety specialist in Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, present an update on the conflict engendered by a 2022 Ohio law mandating blinking lights on buggies and some of the state’s Swartzentruber Amish who are resisting the lights, with some using large rectangular reflectors instead.

In lieu of flashing lights, Swartzentruber Amish use lanterns and reflective material on their carriages. Photo: Jim Halverson

A far different conflict, the tragic war in Ukraine that escalated dramatically in 2022, has reminded some of our readers of a news story from a decade ago about so-called Ukrainian Amish living southwest of Lviv. In response, Edward Kline, a New Order Amish man from Ohio, offers a firsthand description of these Plain believers who, although not Amish, share certain lifestyle attributes with North American Plain people.

JPAC wraps up with a review of Ervin Beck’s book MennoFolk3: Puns, Riddles, Tales, and Legends, which continues Beck’s examination of Mennonite and Amish folklore.


The Journal of Plain Anabaptist Communities is a jointly sponsored journal of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin, Ohio, the Amish America website, and The Ohio State University Libraries.

JPAC is dedicated to publishing both empirical and theoretical work related to Plain Anabaptist communities, including, among others, the Amish, conservative Mennonites, Amish-Mennonites, Apostolic Christians, Brethren, Bruderhof, and Hutterites.

JPAC articles may include emerging issues associated with Plain Anabaptist communities, diverse theoretical perspectives, and methodological approaches to the study of Plain Anabaptist groups, and significant research findings about Plain Anabaptist populations.

To access JPAC: Go to While there, you can register for the journal (see registration tab in the upper-right-hand corner). Registration and access to all issues are free of charge.

JPAC was created in 2019 to provide a more inclusive and more collaborative publication outlet for Anabaptist scholarship. JPAC’s predecessor at OSU was the Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies (JAPAS). Articles from volumes 1–6 of JAPAS can still be accessed, free of charge, in the Knowledge Bank of the OSU Libraries.

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    One Comment

    1. ARIA Quill


      CAN AMISH PEOPLE USE SOLAR LIGHTING. It is a gift from God!