Posted by: clevsea | October 17, 2007

Old Order Amish/Old Order Mennonite

I answered a question on a e-loop today and thought I would post it here as well.

The question was about the orders and which ones were the most strict as compared to those that are not. Many people have heard of Beachy Amish for instance, but they don’t know where they fit as compared to OLD Order Amish. Here is what I said:

The most strict to the least In Mifflin county Pennsylvania:

Old School (Yoder)
OLD School (Zook)
Byler Church
Peachey Amish (Renno)
New Amish
Beachy Amish (Valley View)
Beth-el Mennonite
Holdeman Mennonite
Allensville Mennonite
Locust Grove Mennonite
Brethern in Christ
Maple Grove Mennonite
Protestant

(above list from Amish Society, by Hostetler)

Most of you know that from Anabaptists there are the Mennonites and from the Mennonites came the Amish. That was due to Jacob Ammann who broke away because he wanted to practice “shunning” to a larger degree than the Mennonites around him.

The word Mennonite is from a man named Menno Sims (possible spelling error) aka, Simons.

In our day we know that the Old Order Amish in Penn. and other areas are the least likely to have electricity. They don’t have phones and they don’t own cars. They can ride in a car but they don’t own cars. They stay away from having curtains, decorations and have that “Amish” look to their clothes. Even buttons were avoided by the Old Order Amish and the Old Older Mennonites in favor of the Hook and Eye.

As the orders get more loose you will see them owning cars and wearing “Prints” rather than solid colors and all kinds of other differences.

I met a Mennonite woman who was wearing false fingernails, short-y, short shorts, a skimpy top, had a ton of facial make-up on and her uncovered hair was streaked with dye. She also had on a lot of jewelry. She goes to a Mennonite church in Calif. that is very un-strict. She lives in a house worth nearly a million $$ and of course she has a car.

The word Mennonite means different things to different people. A lot of the sub groups receive ex-Amish and ex-Old Order Mennonites into their churches because they do not practice the shunning as severely.

It seems to me that the outward appearance is one thing, but the degree to which any church practices shunning is what really sets it apart.

I have been reading Amish non-fiction reference books for about 18 years. I think I’ve read everything in print or at least I tried to. A lot of those books I read 3 or 4 times over.

The best and the easiest to locate is called “Amish Society” by John A. Hostetler. If it is the one book you get you will be fine and you’ll know quite a lot about the Amish after reading it.

It’s been revised many times–I have the 4th edition.

Another more difficult book to find is called “Mennonites Then and Now.” The main point of that book is the history of trying to have Mennonite groups planted and thrive at the end of the Oregon Trail, namely in Oregon State. The settlements failed over and over and over again. The bishop would be dispatched from Penn. or Ohio for example, and when they arrived at one Oregon Mennonite settlement or another they would find that the people had begun to wear buttons and other so-called outrageous behaviors. The Oregonian settlements kept acclimating to Oregon and sooner or later they would be just like any Protestant church and to the sadness of the visiting Bishop they would have lost their Mennonite-ness.

Now Oregon does have some Mennonite Churches as does the rest of the West Coast–but early on the people from the East were underestimating the power of rebellion. West Coast people were just not likely to be rule-followers and the West Coast back in Pioneer times attracted the more “free” or rebellious, if you will, types of people.

I could write about this stuff all day long but for your sakes I will stop. Notice I avoided anything to do with Theology? I could be informative about that area as well, but I’ll leave that alone for now.

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