Not Amish Singers (Updated)

A video making the media rounds supposedly shows Amish singers in Minneapolis singing a hymn as they hold signs related to the death of George Floyd.

The people in the clip were in several places described as “Amish” – possibly due to the label at least one YouTube uploader gave the video, and those writing the articles lacking familiarity with the Amish.

Image: Rosie Psychic Investigator/YouTube

But as awareness has spread, I see that narrative has shifted to describing them as “Amish-esque” or similar terms. Others are calling them Mennonites, which is what I’d heard they are from one source.

However, another video on YouTube – which looks like the original – describes them as “Church of God”. The account owner actually contacted the group, and found they are part of a church from Cecil, Wisconsin. She updated her video with this:

I finally identified this group as ‘Church of God’ https://www.churchofgod.net/articles/… and they are NOT Amish or Mennonite. They LOOK that way to me and many commenters said they are likely Mennonites. However I contacted them and they said they are not Mennonites. So I deleted the reference in the title. I don’t quite understand their origin, but actual Mennonite people have said they have nothing to do with them so I edited the title.

The term “Church of God” has been used by many different religious organizations, currently and in the past. The website of the Cecil church shows both how they differ from the Amish, and why some might have misidentified them as Amish. They do have a plain appearance, and the pastor’s name is Allen Bontrager, suggesting there might be Amish/Anabaptist roots.

But there are several immediate clues in the video itself that this group is not Amish (and when I use “Amish” on this site, I am always referring to horse-and-buggy Amish, not other more progressive groups that might also use Amish in their names). They include the hair, style of dress, and the fact that they are holding signs demonstrating for a social cause in the middle of a city.

Image: Rosie Psychic Investigator/YouTube

Amish people tend not to participate in public demonstrations of this sort. I tried to think of examples when Amish made public appearances that could be considered loosely similar to this example. One I could think of was Amish attending a “rally” in Harrisburg, PA for an embattled midwife back in 2008. I don’t know if that entailed holding signs.

Another partially comparable appearance would be the Amish singing in NYC video. You have a group of Amish singing in a public place in a city. But in that case there was no visible social or political cause attached to the singing.

The song this Church of God group is singing is called “Boundless Love”, and here are the lyrics. I don’t know if any Amish also sing this song, but I can’t see them disagreeing with the words here:

Boundless Love

There is not a mother, sister, friend, or brother
Loves the way that Jesus can
He proved His love for me when He died on Calvary
He gave His life for fallen man

His love (His love) is a boundless love
And it reaches down and touches me
His love (His love) is an endless love
That will last for all eternity

Jesus wants to love you, there is none above you
You are precious in His sight
He will never fail you when the doubts assail you
He’ll be with you day and night

His love (His love) is a boundless love
And it reaches down and touches me
His love (His love) is an endless love
That will last for all eternity

Update: Here’s another image, showing the clothing of several of the girls. While plain, you can see it differs from typical Amish-style female clothing. These girls appear to be wearing collared shirts and/or vest-like garments, and skirts, rather than a single-piece dress.

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    17 Comments

    1. Teresa Wideman

      Yeah, I didn’t think so either, when I first saw the story. The ladies have no prayer caps. And the Amish ( at least here in Ontario) do wear some colour- blue and green etc. And the men look too modern. Lol!

      1. Another thing that stood out a bit to me is the mannerisms. For instance the one man’s wave in the middle of singing. Regardless, it’s good to see peaceful forms of protest versus the alternative.

    2. R.C.

      In case anyone’s interested, here’s the Wikipedia page for the Church of God: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_God_(Restoration)

      1. Is this the one that refers specifically to this group? When I looked on Wikipedia, there were perhaps two dozen different Church of God-related entries (linked in the post).

        1. R.C.

          I think so, since this Wikipedia page links to the same Church of God website that you did, and the description of their dress matches the video.

          1. Gotcha, sounds like that’s it. Thanks.

    3. Larry Simon

      Comment on the lyric

      I wonder what the lyrics mean when it says “ there is none above you”? Jesus loves the poor, the lowly, the needy. He loves those who realize that they need him. Am I understanding this wrong?

      1. I read that as Jesus loving all people equally.

        1. Larry Simon

          Great

          Sounds good! Thanks

    4. Lee Simmons

      Not Amish

      Thank you for looking into this. I knew they weren’t Amish or Mennonite but was curious to learn more.

      1. I was as well. I’m glad the YouTube poster looked into it further.

    5. Judith Freeman

      Church of God Restoration

    6. William Jusice

      My reaction when I saw this post

      I do not believe they are Amish. Otherwise the ladies would have on some sort of cap or bonnet nor are the men wearing either straw or black felt winter hats. No Amish would stand in the sun without a head covering of some sort. They may very well be members of one of the many variations of Anabaptist groups. Likewise, I don’t think they would “come out of the woodwork” to protest as they would more likely be working behind the scenes silently helping victims of violence. Such is their nature. Many people make the mistake of lumping bearded men in dark clothing and women with long dresses and their hair piled on their heads as Amish or Mennonite. Also, the young ladies are wearing buttoned vest. The Amish do not generally use buttons on their clothing.

      1. Lynn C Berry

        I agree completely with everything you said here. I was going to comment about the hats also & the clothes. You said it a lot better then I could have. Thank you…

    7. Lowell Yoder

      Church of

      I am attaching two very interesting web sites that provides some observations on this church
      https://www.churchofgod.net/preaching/reconciliation/
      http://www.churchhopperspodcast.com/2015/08/the-church-of-god-restoration-weird.html

      While they look very much like plain Anabaptist the church service is very Pentecostal in style. It is interesting to see a blend of African American and white leadership. the church apparently calls itself “the only True Church” A quote from the sermon “These people that are in this room are more interested in Unity, and Holiness, and Salvation and Godliness then any other people on the face of the earth because there has never been a time like our time”

    8. Lowell Yoder

      Church of God ..reconciliation

      I am attaching two very interesting web sites that provides some observations on this church
      https://www.churchofgod.net/preaching/reconciliation/
      http://www.churchhopperspodcast.com/2015/08/the-church-of-god-restoration-weird.html

      While they look very much like plain Anabaptist the church service is very Pentecostal in style. It is interesting to see a blend of African American and white leadership. the church apparently calls itself “the only True Church” A quote from the sermon “These people that are in this room are more interested in Unity, and Holiness, and Salvation and Godliness then any other people has ever existed on the face of the earth because there has never been a time like our time”

      I can understand why Anabaptist groups might not want to identify with this denomination.

    9. Stephanie Berkey

      Thank you for investigating and sharing this, Erik. It’s all very interesting.