West Lebanon, Ohio: Churchbound
I happened upon this pair of buggies as they headed to church service yesterday morning. There’s a good chance their occupants were going to Communion.
Many Holmes County Amish churches held their bi-annual communion services this past weekend. Some will do so this upcoming weekend. Two weeks before Communion, a church will hold a service called Counsel.
Preaching on this special day consists of a recounting of the Old Testament story, from Creation down to the prophets. Following the main body of the service, church members meet to make sure all is in good stead among themselves, as a means of preparing for the coming Communion service.
I was fortunate enough to attend a Counsel service the Sunday before last. After the regular part of the service concluded, I was kicked out, along with all the other non-members (in this case, all the kids as well as visiting relatives of the family holding church). In practice this meant we got an early start on lunch, while the members stayed behind about another hour-and-a-half.
The communion service is usually on a Sunday but I learned that it can be held on a Saturday in a special situation–for example when a church would like to have certain ministers from other districts over to assist.
While regular church service concludes around 11:30 or 12, Communion usually lasts into the afternoon.
I also ventured up to Geauga County, Ohio yesterday afternoon. They are likely at Communion time as well–this service was still going on at around 3 pm.
I’ve had it described to me by a member that going through Counsel and Communion is a good feeling, because afterwards members of the church have a renewed sense of unity and any unresolved grievances are cleared up. Spiritual renewal, when you worship as one body, requires cleaning house from time to time.
Man – I’ll tell you what – I really like how the Amish conduct their business in regards to their church practice. Were it not for their cultural exclusion of outsiders – I would have to say they probably mirror the New Testament Church of the 1st Century better than any other Christian group that I can think of.
Communion is such a renewing and cleansing. We all need it form time to time.
They do keep it pretty basic. Their service is very pure and simple. At core they are a fundamentalist group. They are constantly quoting Scripture during theological discussion, especially the ministers I know.