The New Order Amish in Lancaster County
Anna Schrock has an unusual backstory for a person who grew up Amish. Her family was a part of the New Order Amish movement in Lancaster County. The New Order Amish are primarily associated with Ohio, and particularly Holmes County (though today there are communities in quite a few other states).
As the Ohio New Orders emerged in the 1960s, there was another New Order movement happening around the same time in Lancaster County. However, that movement did not grow as the Ohio New Orders did, peaking at just a handful of churches in size – and eventually faded away. Here’s a brief description of the origin of the movements from our main article on the New Order Amish:
The New Order Amish originate from a pair of movements in Ohio and Pennsylvania in the 1960s. The key driving factors in the Ohio schism were twofold–one was a belief that controversial practices such as tobacco and alcohol use should be eliminated, and that “clean” courtship should be implemented for youth (as opposed to the practice of bundling found among some Amish).
Secondly, reformist Amish wished to introduce a more evangelical element into the church, concerning personal salvation and mission work. Amish in this group felt strongly about assurance of salvation, Sunday School, and church outreach. The division which occurred in 1966 in Lancaster County shared some similarities with the Ohio division, but was more focused on technology. New Order Amish are less commonly known as the “Amish Brotherhood”.
As Anna shares below, the Lancaster New Order community eventually disbanded. I had heard of this group at various points over the past 10-15 years that there were only some older members remaining. A source in-the-know reported in 2016 that “Some members joined other churches or moved to other communities, a few returned to the Old Order.”
Anna Schrock is no longer Amish today, but in today’s guest post, Anna shares with us about being a part of the Lancaster settlement’s small New Order community, now passed into history. She also gives her perspective on the Amish as someone who grew up in the community and today observes it from “outside”.
Anna Schrock: New Order Amish Life in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Life as a New Order Amish in Lancaster County
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is a beautiful area that is home to many Amish families. Most of them are the Old Order Amish. However, in the 1960s, a group of concerned parents decided to break off from the Old Order and start a new church. They called themselves the New Order Amish.
They had several concerns and reasons for breaking off. One of the main reasons being hunger for the Word of God. They wanted to study God’s Word together and learn the truth. In their searching, they came to understand that salvation comes by grace through faith. It does not come by works, as they were taught in the Old Order.
Another reason was, they wanted their youth to live moral lives. They did not want Rumspringa and believed that the use of alcohol and tobacco was wrong.
More modern conveniences for the New Order Amish
The New Order did not really start a new church for more modern conveniences. But as they discussed what their rules would be, they agreed to allow more modern conveniences.
So the Lancaster County New Order Amish were allowed to have electricity and phones in their home. They farmed with tractors and had rubber tires/wheels instead of steel. And there were a few differences in their dress. We were allowed to wear lighter colors, etc.
Around the same time, some New Order churches started in Holmes County, Ohio. They also allowed more modern conveniences, but they do not have electricity.
Today, there are no more New Order churches in the Lancaster area
You may notice that I have been writing about the Lancaster New Order churches in a past tense form. This is because, since about 2012, there are no more New Order churches in that area.
There were two New Order churches in the Lancaster area, and both of them had a good-sized membership. But, I think one problem with our churches was that we were too close to being like the Beachy Amish (the Beachy Amish are not considered as Amish. They are called Amish/Mennonites and would definitely not like to be classified as Amish.)
There was a pull for our church members to leave and join the Beachy Amish. The New Orders do not practice shunning, so we didn’t need to worry about being shunned when we left. Our beliefs were practically the same. We liked their dress style better than ours. And the biggest pull of all, the Beachy churches drive cars.
Over the years, our New Order members kept leaving and joining the Amish/Mennonites. It was hard on all of us that were left behind, and of course, it was especially hard on the older adults who had helped to start this church.
But finally, all that was left of the New Order in that area were older folks, and it was getting harder for them to host church in their homes, etc. So they all decided to join the rest of their families in the Beachy Amish church.
What was it like growing up New Order Amish?
We had church in our homes, every other Sunday, the same as the Old Orders. Then we had Sunday School on the in-between Sunday. So we got to host the service two Sundays before it passed on to the next family.
We divided into small groups for Bible Study every other Wednesday evening. And had two weeks of Bible School in the summer. So we had a lot more spiritual activity than the Old Orders do.
Our church taught the same doctrines as the Mennonites. We were taught salvation by grace through faith and strongly encouraged to read our Bibles, seeking to have a relationship with God.
The New Orders are more mission-minded
The New Orders are also mission-minded. Although we never tried to win people to our church, we did desire to see souls saved.
Once a year, a busload of youth, along with one of the preachers and a few other parents, went to New York City. We got in contact with Bowery Street Mission, and they invited us to come, to have a service for the homeless people who came in off the streets to their mission. We sang evangelistic Gospel songs and had a short sermon, along with an altar call for souls to be saved. Then we walked the streets to pass out Gospel tracts (I even got to see the city from the top of the twin towers). We always had a very good day in the city! And my dad became friends with one of the leaders at the mission, considering him a brother in Christ (this black brother also got to come to visit us at our farm.)
The New Order Amish also has a mission to a small Native American community in Ontario, Canada. They do not require the church members to dress like the Amish. But they do require the ladies to wear skirts and a simple head covering.
So we were a lot more like the conservative Mennonites. It was the horse and buggy and Amish-style dress that set us apart as Amish.
New Order Amish are still very religious
This may surprise you since we were all Amish… but sadly, I must admit that we New Order young people always looked down our noses at the Old Order Amish. We thought we were much better than them since we weren’t as plain, and we believed in salvation by grace.
Amish is a religion. And as you may already know, religious people are a big bunch of self-righteous, better than thou, judgmental people (Whew, that was a mouthful, but it’s the truth). We thought we had it all together, and we were the perfect people.
And my judgmental attitude toward others is one thing that has been the hardest for me to overcome. When you grow up in a religion that judges people by their outward appearance and everything they do, it can be difficult to change. But God is working on me, and my children remind me often to love people as they are and not be so quick to judge.
Anna Schrock blogs at amish-heritage.org.
Beachy ARE "Amish"
The Beach Amish most certainly do consider themselves “Amish”. Although sometimes they are called “Amish Mennonites”, they still identify as “AMISH”, not “old order” or “new order”, but “Beachy AMISH”. This article says the Beachy would not want to be classified as “AMISH”, but isn’t exactly right. Beachy AMISH are not old order AMISH, that’s true, but they are a branch of the Amish movement.
Are the Beachy "Amish"?
I was Amish and then I was also Beachy Amish. I was simply stating that the Beachy do not like to be identified as Amish. They would rather be considered Mennonite. It’s just one of those things in that religion, of looking down on someone that you consider lower than yourself.
I had thought that bundling, which was not only an Amish tradition, had pretty much died out. But the comment at the top suggests that it is still going strong in some groups. Is it, really?
I also have no clue why bundling would be included in that sentence. I’m as old as dirt and in my Amish days, bundling was something that happened generations before my time. I’m not aware that it happened in my generation.
Do Amish still practice bundling?
There are a lot of different types of Amish, and the practice is apparently still seen in the plainer groups – “fewer than 10 percent of Amish groups” according to the book The Amish (2013).
Bundling was included in that sentence because objections to the practice of bed courtship were among the reason for these schisms back in the 1960s. In Ohio, where you have a mix of many different Amish groups, including the very plainest, this may be/have been of more immediate concern.
I don’t know if there weren’t at least remnants of this in Lancaster County 50+ years ago. It was obviously of concern to some.
If bundling was still being practiced in Lancaster County in the 50’s, I was completely unaware of it happening. Yesterday I talked to my SIL, who lives in IN, and she said it was common knowledge that it was practiced there in the 50’s. Maybe I was living in a bubble….see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Interesting explanation of differences in Old Order, New Order, Amish Mennonite, and Beachy Amish.
My Great Grandparents were Amish Mennonites and my grandparents and parents were all Mennonite.
At this time in my life, I see many kinds of Mennonites as well, but most still carry the same name.
The Mennonite church which I grew up in, is much more liberal than it was 30 years ago, and seems to be getting more liberal all the time.
If you were from a different area and walked into a service at this church that I speak of, you might think you are in a Non-Denominational, or any other Protestant Church.
The congregation looks like any other, dresses like any other, and the sermons might be given in any other.
It is always interesting when people ask about the Mennos, or tell you what they think they know about the religion, or you read about Mennonites in novels or other books.
There are all kinds of opinions …what people think, or think that they know…but the Mennonite Church USA, is certainly not a “One shoe fits All.”
There are varied opinions in each church, I would venture to say, & everyone does not believe what some have decided to believe!
For me, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who died on a Cross that We might be saved, and have Eternal Life with God in Heaven when we die… IF we believe, confess, and follow Christ’s teachings.
Simple ~ He is God, full of mercy & grace, who forgives our sins if we only ask.
Yes, I could go on & on, but that is it, basically in a nutshell.
I wonder where, or if Anna, attends worship services today?
Where I worship
I am basically a nondenominational Pentecostal Christian.
New order amish
I enjoyed the story learning of the differant Amish orders new and old. I believe one church and one God and the one church is God and his word is the Bible. Rules of differant churches are created are man made and possibly interpret the Bible in differant ways to suit the man made churches. If the rules hurt people that is not our lord’s rules because he is of love. Simple: follow the path of being a good person you will have the church of God.
Who wrote the Bible?
Let’s not forget that it was human beings who wrote the documents that, centuries after Jesus, were selected to be in the Bible. Scads of other gospels and epistles were left out. If a perfect being wrote the Bible, it would not have so many internal contradictions. Those are a big factor that allows hundreds of different–and differing–belief systems to assert that they are correct.
the New Order Amish
The Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God. It is plenarily, verbally inspired, God-breathed. It is my only rule for faith and practice. There are so many denomination because people want to make up their own religions and not take the Bible as all true. We can not save ourselves. We can only go to Heaven if we take Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. There is NO other way. Jesus Himself said, I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. NO ONE comes to the FATHER but through ME. John 14:6
Thank you, Kimberly!
Hi Kimberly, Thank you so much for your comforting, brave, honest response to…things I am really offended by, clearly motivated by attempts at manipulation. I’m going to copy down your awesome, authentic Christian post, and keep it in my purse. I am so comforted, and find my Anabaptistfaith fully renewed, and my anger vanished by the beautiful, authentically-Biblical words in your post. What an amazing, selfless reminder of our faith, Kimberly! I am so grateful your post, will reread it with joy whenever I might suffer the…serious pain of weakened faith, and realizing danger by too much distance from my real beliefs! God bless you, Kimberly! You saved my day! Take good care! Mette in PA
Kom deg ut, nedlatende, kontrollerende RÆSHØLE,du hatar oss som er ekte kristnet, så lat oss være i fred! IKKJE bli med oss på vår Kristne webside! Gå vekk!
facts have no emotions
No, Ingen, I certainly do not hate you. I’m sorry you feel that way. I imagine that if we ever met, we would get along well. I respect the minds of people on this site enough that I care to share information that seems relevant to the subject.
And I don’t think this is a Christian website. It is a site *about* Amish culture, not a site intended to promote any religion. Correct me if I am wrong, Erik.
This story is a good example how, as the years go by, some of the next(younger) generation of Amish tend to branch out and go their own direction. Like a tree that grows new branches each year. Each branch is further away from the strongest part of the tree. The trunk.
Each generation tends to want to do things their own way. Each generation seems to think they know better. Similar to what she states in this story. I think this is why there are many different Amish. And some new branches tend to be weaker the further it grows away from the trunk…or slowly transitions from “Amish” to englisch.
Heftler and knepfler
I find this article very interesting.
I just see a difference on the subject with what was happening here in Alsace (France). According to the elements that I was able to collect from our Alsatian Mennonites, who are in the vast majority from the Amish lineage, their (Amish) ancestors considered themselves Mennonites. The most rigorous of the Mennonites, who were not yet called Amish on our old continent, were called heftler (who closes his clothes with staples) and those who remained Mennonites were called knepfler (who closes his clothes with buttons). A new wave of heftler emigration to the American continent began to be observed in Alsace in the 1850s for those who wanted to remain in the ideas of Jacob Amman. The last of them who remained in Alsace, died at the end of the 19th century or even in the first years of the 20th century. Their children, who were more interested in modernity, joined the Mennonite knepfler who had conformed to the rest of the population or founded a home with a Lutheran spouse. Our Mennonites today are no longer distinguished by their clothes, but keep in mind that their grandparents were Heftler Mennonites and still have some traces of certain Amish particularities.
There is also a group of Amish in Montana. They drive cars, have electricity but the women wear skirts. They support themselves by building & selling log cabin kits. I have been following them on YouTube videos.
Is that the Libby group you are referring to?
Yes, that is the group. One family has a YouTube video podcast that I follow. They show different aspects of their lives. He works in his father’s business selling log cabin kits. He also raises two breeds of dogs & take very good care of them. They consider themselves to be Amish & are not shunned by other Amish groups. At one point, the woman’s mother’s sister died & the woman & her mother flew to attend the funeral. They were seated with the family of the deceased. The woman wears long skirts most of the time but out of contemporary fabrics & no head covering. She also wears makeup & jewelry. It appears that they have successfully bridged the gap between the Amish & modern life.
Evangelical Amish journey
What Anna relates about the movement of her community to personal, biblical faith is similar in ways to the heart wrenching / heartwarming story of Ora-Jay and Irene Eash (Plain Faith, Zondervan, co-written by Tricia Goyer) of breaking from a beloved life in Indiana in the 1980s to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading to an Amish group in Montana that was based on personal faith. Wonderful book! God bless you Anna and Erik!