Lovina Eicher: Church Is Back – But Without Lunch

Lovina Eicher of Lovina’s Amish Kitchen reports in her latest column on church service restarting in her Michigan community.

Sunday, we hosted church services in our pole barn, which was the first time we met since the lockdown. Our church members decided to gather for the service and then all leave and have their lunches at home.

Below: a photo of Lovina’s family’s pole barn, set up for church. For the Amish, church can be held in a pole barn, workshop, basement (as we saw in the recent Iowa Amish home post), or other room or structure which will fit the congregation.

You can see the Eichers’ pole barn provides a fairly spacious area, and it is easy to get the long benches into and out of this space. I have been in some Amish services which felt much more packed than this area.

The white chairs with backs you see in the front are for the ministers and older folks. As a guest in Amish church, I have been given one of these seats at least once or twice (though I don’t think I qualify for either of the aforementioned categories at present).

Photo: Lovina’s Amish Kitchen

For the Eichers, leaving off the after-service fellowship meal seemed strange, but the church felt it the right thing to do:

Usually, the family hosting the church service furnishes a lunch such as sandwiches made with homemade wheat and white bread, ham, cheese or cheese spread, pickles, red beets, butter and jam, and coffee and tea. It was decided to skip the lunch and ask everyone to eat at home to observe the COVID-19 lockdown rules. It didn’t feel right not to sit and visit and have lunch with our church fellowship, but we are thankful that we could at least gather together to hear God’s word.

After cleaning, preparations, and hosting 100+ people, the hosting family is ready to relax a bit and return to a normal routine:

After preparing for church services for weeks, it is a relief to have our turn over for another year. Now we can concentrate on other work. My goal is to get some sewing done.

How long until the church will be enjoying red beets and schmier kase together again? Hard to say, but this is a good start.

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    1. Kathleen Brockway

      Deaf culture? Deaf Amish?

      Hello, I am doing a research on deaf culture and folklore. I am deaf and a professional researcher. I was told the Amish community do have several deaf cousins. I would like to be referred to so I can ask them some questions that would help my research on verifying older regional sign language in the Amish and mennonites communities.

      Thank you!

      1. Debra

        Not sure that I can help you with your research, but I had an interesting experience last Fall in Lancaster County. We took a buggy ride that originated at Kitchen Kettle Village. The buggy made a stop at an Amish farm and the children there sold us refreshments. The interesting thing was that the little Amish girl appeared to have Cochlear implants. She took the orders and collected our money. Very cute and smart little girl! Although the Amish may shy away from technology, this obviously does not apply when it comes to the health and welfare of their children. Kudos to her parents!

    2. Raymond C. Olson

      Response to Kathleen Brockway – You can try to contact Joseph M. Eicher who lives in Northern Indiana (Wolcottville) -he and wife both are Deaf and so are 4 out of 5 children. His father, Uncle Jake and Aunt Ida all are Deaf (Jake is deceased now) – Menno (Joe’s father) has 8 children (4 are Deaf), Jake had 10 children (4 are Deaf), and Ida (Her husband is Eicher also) has 11 children (4 are Deaf) and His grandfather, Menno E. Eicher (1915-1969) was Deaf (born Deaf).

    3. Amish church without lunch

      I’ve been reading the Budget recently (the weekly national paper for and by Plain people that comes out of Sugarcreek Ohio) and have noticed many who were having church did so without lunch. Some are still not having church.

    4. Church is Back

      I’m glad some Amish have made the decision to have church – as long as they feel confident they won’t get sick. Many Amish, by necessity, have to go out in the world to work, maybe in their own businesses, & are around many people. I worry this is a way to pick up the virus. As long as no one gets sick, it is good to have church. Time will tell. I love the Amish & don’t want them or any individual or group to get sick. I can’t wait to go back to church but I will have to feel confident before I go back. Barbershops & such have opened in my area. I need a trim very badly. I made an appointment & hours later, cancelled it. It is not worth the risk to me. With things opening up in other countries, more are getting sick. The thing about this pandemic is, there are risks either way. For myself, this has been very hard psychologically. I’ve been extremely lonely, I miss my son, I have insomnia, if a day goes by without crying, it’s rare. It’s been excruciating & I don’t use that word lightly because the word crucify comes from it. All that said – GREAT kudos go to the Amish for not sharing lunch. That is part & parcel of the church service & had to be very sad & foreign to not have. I hope EVERYONE will come out of this stronger. I know I appreciate things so much more. I passed up many Sunday morning services so I could sleep & I’ve wished I’d attended church when I could because now I can’t. Buy I do love the Amish. I love the lifestyle & the pure sweetness of it.

      1. It might not be a bad thing if more of the young/healthy get the virus with the goal of herd immunity. Especially since the risk of death is extremely low for those groups. I worry about the older folks who are penned up in isolation and will presumably remain so as we wait for a vaccine that may or may not be achieved. Plus all the other adverse negative consequences on lockdown on society as a whole.