What’s the difference between Beachy Amish and Old Order Amish?

Beachy Amish are more progressive than Old Order Amish in certain ways

beachy amishThe Beachy Amish are an Anabaptist church which formed in 1927 in Pennsylvania.  The Beachy Amish church is also known as the Beachy Amish Mennonite Fellowship, reflecting Mennonite influences.  Some argue that the Beachy Amish are more rightly described as a Mennonite group.

Beachy Amish are similar to Old Order Amish in various ways:

  • Similar religious beliefs-Beachy Amish follow certain tenets of the Dordrecht Confession, including footwashing and non-resistance
  • Congregational organization-Beachy churches are organized by congregation rather than by conference, as in the case of many Mennonite churches
  • Plain dress-Beachy Amish wear plain clothing, including head coverings and plain dress for women and beards for men, though the appearance can differ from dress of Old Order Amish
  • Education-Beachy Amish tend to have only limited formal education, though may be more likely to go to high school than Old Order Amish

Beachy Amish differ from Old Order Amish in key ways:

  • Technology-Beachy Amish accept a higher degree of technology, including automobile ownership, electricity and telephones in the home, and limited computer usage
  • Church Buildings-Beachy Amish worship in specially constructed buildings, rather than in the home
  • Mission Work-Beachy Amish are more mission-oriented, founding congregations around the world
  • Bible Study-Beachy Amish hold Sunday School and other venues of formal Bible Study

Beachy Amish Origins

In A History of the Amish, Amish historian Steven M. Nolt explains that the Beachy Amish movement emerged in the Old Order Amish community on the southern border of Somerset County, Pennsylvania over three decades.  The Old Order community under the leadership of Bishop Moses D. Yoder maintained the position that social shunning should be upheld for members who switched to a more progressive Mennonite church.

beachy amish cars
Beachy Amish use automobiles

After new bishop Moses M. Beachy took over leadership, the church’s stance on strict shunning slackened, and “Beachy let it be known that he would not excommunicate or shun Old Orders who became Amish Mennonites” (History, Nolt p280).  The progressive segment, comprising most of the community, eventually separated from the Old Order Amish over the issue of strict shunning in 1927.  The Beachy church  soon accepted Sunday schooling and began to adopt electricity in the home, followed by lessening restrictions on technology, such as allowing car ownership.

Later, numerous others, including members of the “Peachey” church in Lancaster County, joined with the Beachy Amish contingent, which expanded across North America over the ensuing decades.

Beachy Amish beliefs

Theologically, Beachy Amish share similarities with Old Order Amish as an Anabaptist church.  Beachy Amish generally adhere to the tenets of the Dordrecht Confession.  Ministers are typically selected similarly to the Old Order method (ie, through use of the lot).  A bishop, two ministers, and a deacon typically lead the Beachy congregation.

Steven Nolt notes that Beachy Amish retain a congregational aspect rather than organizing under centralized leadership, one way Beachy churches have kept with Old Order traditions.  Beachy Amish women wear head coverings and Plain dresses, and men wear beards.

However, Beachy Amish differ spiritually from Old Order Amish in that they emphasize doctrines such as assurance of salvation.  They are also typically more mission-oriented than Old Order Amish.   Beachy Amish have founded a number of congregations around the world, including in Europe, Latin America, and Africa.

Beachy Amish also take a more organized approach to Bible study, including Sunday Schools and Bible study groups.  Nearly all Beachy Amish use English rather than German as the language of worship.

Beachy Amish and technology

Beachy Amish allow a higher level of technology, including electricity in the home, automobiles, and limited use of computers, though they forgo television and radio.  The telephone is also permitted in Beachy Amish homes.

For  further information, see:

A History of the Amish, Steven M. Nolt

“The Rise and Development of the Beachy Amish Mennonite Churches”, Alvin J. Beachy, Mennonite Quarterly Review, April 1955

GAMEO, Beachy Amish Mennonite Fellowship

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    1. John B

      I attended a Gaither Homecoming Concert in State College, PA, last year. There were a large number of people who attended the concert who were either Mennonites or Beachy Amish. Can you tell me which group it was who attended? I would think they must watch TV. How else would they be familiar with the Gaithers? I also see a number of the teenage girls who wear light colored dresses with white sneakers.

    2. magdalena

      Could you tell me, what`s a difference between Beachy Amish and New Order Amish? Or maybe this is the same?
      Thanks for response!

      1. Andy

        New Order

        Horse and Buggy vs the use of cars. New order services are in German vs Beachy are in English. Not much else.

      2. Mary

        I can tell you why the Beachy church started. It was because they found Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and knew that they were saved by the finished work of Christ on the cross. So now they have a hunger to study the Bible and be able to grow in their new-found faith. So they go where they can study and be with others who have found the same wonderful salvation. Usually they change their dress and lifestyle slowly so as hopefully not to offend anyone. That is it, period and don’t let anyone tell you anything different. If you came into the Beachy Church for any other reason you are an imposter and not truly born again! The Amish don’t believe that you can be saved and know it in this life. San, sad, sad!

    3. John B

      I guess now my question is: what order of Mennonites dress somewhat similarly to the Beachy Amish, but listen to Christian music & will attend Gaither concerts? The girls wear dresses in pastels of yellow, pink, blue, or lavender, and wear white sneakers & white socks. The men seem to not have beards.

    4. Ed

      John, “attending Gaither concerts” is not a defined practice of any particular religion. Perhaps you saw nonbaptized Amish young people, perhaps they were Mennonites, perhaps just ordinary folks who dress plainly. If you really want to know, you’d have to ask them directly.

      1. Dana

        Most likely the girls at the concert were a type of Mennonite. Just because they were at a Gaither concert doesn’t mean they watch TV or that they aren’t church members. There are groups of Mennonites that allow computer and Internet access and that also are okay with Christian music. They could easily have found out about the concert online or something.

    5. Everett

      Does anyone know in what areas of the country the Beachy Amish reside?

      1. sarah alman

        harrison ar

        our beachy amish community is in Harrison,ar called Little Flock Church

      2. Doug


        Northern Indiana is one spot you will find Beachy Amish.

    6. Yoder

      There are Beachy churches in about 26 states.

      Gameo stands for Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. This article is about Beachy Amish Mennonite Fellowship.

      http://www.beachyam.org may also have information.

      1. Everett
    7. young


      there are many types of mennonites, alot of which you wouldn’t know it if you didn’t know them. Holdemans are alot like the beachy’s as far as beards bonnets and electronics and beliefs. they even practice a very weak type of shunning. if a member marry’s outside the church then the spouse is welcome to the family table but not the family member. i have many friends this has happened to. there are more than 100 branches of amish and mennonites, and they all vary somewhat

    8. Tina

      Please help!

      Hi, could you please tell me the difference between the Beachy Amish-Mennonites and an Old order Mennonite group, such as Black Bumper Mennonites? Thank you so much for your time.

    9. Nancy


      Do Amish believe that Jesus is their saviour?

    10. Amish Girl-Rebecca

      Yes ! He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Mark 16:16. I have a comment on “The Amish in Garnett, Kansas” post, which you might want to go back to and read.

    11. Amish Girl-Rebecca

      It was on ” A Visit to the Amish in Garnett, Kansas.”

      1. Get a direct link to comment

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    12. Deborah Moomaw

      Beachy Amish

      I almost thought Beachy Amish live primarily by a body of water with sandy beaches, really. Then I read something about Peachy. What? I understand the difference between the Beachy and Old Order Amish, though. The Beachy Amish are a part of the New Order Amish that has a lot of them using electricity in their community and homes. The Beachy Amish even have automobiles they use and tractors. I read something about some computer use and telephones. So, modern technology is something that they use in their home life. The Old Order Amish don’t use modern technology in their homes. They use maybe oil lamps and candles instead of electricity. They use horses instead of tractors. They don’t use automobiles, but use the horses and buggy instead. I do understand that both of the New and Old Order have still got plain clothing they wear, accept that the beards are shorter in the New Order Amish like the Beachy Amish. I understand the young women wear some pastel dresses and some simple tennis shoes, also.

    13. ausbund

      i was an outside-in member of a Beachy Amish-Mennonite congregation and married an inside-out-ing sister. Who taught me an Ausbund song (Spore Diny Bussy Nicht). Which is so spiritually satisfying to me that I am permanently removed in my mind (and with my mouth and ears) from Fannie Crosby and Charles Wesley, so to speak. Whose melodies I find hypnotizing, again, so to speak. In short, I am saddened that such conservative and otherwise spiritually healthy Anabaptist Christians settle for such less quality music (as worship and fellowship, with one another, and God.) For example, I’m all for trusting and obeying God, but the God I know does not echo his melodies in my brain to a maddening point. Indeed, ‘Spore Diny Bussy Nicht is melodious salvation to me. And you? R,svp!

    14. Katherine Hageland

      Old Order Amish

      Are there any truly Old Order Amish communities still existing in the United States?