#1 How Are Amish Bishops Selected?
Amish Church leaders are nominated and then elected through a democratic voting system within the congregation. They are chosen in a similar way to most Christian pastors/preachers – Through a popular vote and by standing out in the community as a great:
- Relayer of God’s word
Scriptures such as Peter 5:2 state that an elder should be ‘willing,’ but not feel a compulsion (which could be seen as a sense of greed for the authority or power).
Each district will typically have:
- 2-3 ministers
- 1 deacon
- 1 bishop
All of which are shared between 1-2 districts.
Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania writes of their religious traditions:
“There are usually three to seven preachers and bishops at a service. These “untrained” clergy preach powerful, emotional messages, often moving about since the congregation may be seated in different rooms of the home. Some ministers present their message in a chanting, sing-song manner, in the Pennsylvania German dialect, with scriptures in High German. Common religious scripture themes include leading a right life in the eyes of the Lord; resurrection; and the idea of “judge not that ye be not judged.” Scriptures are followed by brief minister messages, prayer and more song.”
It is seen as:
- Less of an honor
- More of a heavy responsibility
- A serious task
- An obligation to God and the community
- Serve for life
- Receive no salary
- Must accept that they could become Ministers from the moment they are baptized into the Amish religion – this in itself signifies, as Lancaster’s website states, that you are aware the ‘lot could fall on you someday.’
MapMinistry.org writes about the Amish selection process of ministers and bishops:
“Spiritual leaders are chosen when needed and only during a communion service, which occurs twice a year. The bishop and/or ministers go into a side room to listen as each member walks up to the door, one by one, to whisper the name of their nominee. They tally up the numbers and call for those who have received three or more votes to come sit in a row in front of the congregation. Meanwhile, the bishop picks up as many hymnbooks as there are nominees and slips a piece of paper with a verse written on it into one of the hymnbooks. He shuffles the books into a different order before each nominee comes forward to pick up one of these hymnbooks. One by one, they open the hymnbooks until the paper is discovered, and the one holding it is the chosen leader.’
The writer continues, “I have been told that no one really wants to be chosen as a spiritual leader. The thought of having to stand before the others and expound on the scriptures is terrifying to them. It is a time-demanding job — preparing sermons and counseling those who are out of line with the rules. (Confronting each other is not their forte.) It also puts pressure on them, as they do not want to appear more prideful or spiritual than the others, however, they are expected to be a spiritual example. They see leadership as something to dread.”
· “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,” – 1 Timothy 3:2.
#2 How Are Amish Baptized?
Since scriptures such as say; John 3:5:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” –
Amish people do take this to heart with a literal interpretation that they must be baptized to enter Heaven.
The primary steps, process elements, and the ‘how’ behind the baptism include:
- Before the ceremony, they will have one last chance to change their minds.
- A hand is placed over their face (representing humility to the Church and God).
- Males will be asked if they agree to be a minister someday, should they be asked.
- A scripture may be read or ‘I now baptize you in the name of the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
- Full immersion will conclude the baptism.
Some of the qualities worth noting about an Amish Baptism are:
- One must be an adult or at an age of 8 (often considered an age of maturity where a person can make a cognizant decision for themselves regarding their lifelong commitment to the faith. They are typically between the ages of 18-22.
- Similar to Baptists, Amish people usually do full immersion baptisms (dunking fully beneath the water). This is the way Jesus was baptized and is seen as more historically accurate than the ‘sprinkling,’ by water which some denominations opt for.
- A baptism will be a momentous occasion in any Christian’s life, so it is taken very seriously.
- To fail to uphold your promises as an Amish baptized disciple, you could risk shunning or ex-communication from the Amish Church.
- “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:38.
- Amish Baptisms – Map Ministry; February 2th, 2013.
#3 How Are Amish Different From Mennonites?
There are many similarities between the Amish and Mennonite cultures/religions. The two were actually linked until they split in 1963 due to a disagreement regarding ‘shunning.’
The major differences (and some similarities) between these two humble denominations are:
|Missionary work||Less so||More so|
|Evangelical worship||Each home may rotate hosting the service (no automobiles so they can’t travel far)||Mennonites evangelicalize and will focus on missionary outreach to communities outside of their local areas|
|American Population||270K in U.S.||672K in U.S.|
|Origin/History||1693 – Anabaptist (Amish and Mennonites were led by Jakob Ammann. Those that followed Ammann). Mennonites kept separate but immigrated with the Amish/Anabaptists to escape persecution in Europe.||Originally form early 1500s in Netherlands and Switzerland. Founder was Menno Simons, Netherland leader that helped them escape prosecution in 1525; Reformation in the 16th Century.|
- “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” – Exodus 20:4.
- “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:18-21.
- Answering Your Questions – Mennonite Mom – Amish and Mennonites; Published April 24th, 2019.
#4 How Are Amish Horses Treated?
Just as there are good and bad people in every religion, it is difficult and wrong to generalize about an entire group.
Even good Christians can be bad people.
Despite keeping to themselves and maintaining a very private denomination, most Amish people are certainly good pet owners and keep an ‘affectionate relationship with their horses,’ as stated by Lancaster Online.
To avoid reciting allegations and speculation, here are some specific cases and charges against the Amish concerning their horse ownership. According to OfHorse.com:
“Lancaster, Pennsylvania animal enforcement officer, Karen Dinkel, received two animal cruelty call incidents to Costco on July 11, 2011. The plaintiffs stated that each horse was overheating in the scorching sun. The Amish owners of the horses deny any mistreatment. The horses were examined by veterinarian, Dr. Andrew Ellis. Dr. Ellis believes that one of the animals suffered slight dehydration and colic. Colic may occur in horses during any season. Dehydration may sometimes trigger colic. The veterinarian does not believe that the horses were mistreated. Costco agreed to build shelters on the premises for horses.
‘Larkin Vonalt wrote an article titled, “The Truth about the Amish.” In the article, Vonalt discussed the fate of Amish plow and buggy horses. According to Vonalt, when the horses have served their usefulness, the Amish ship the horses off to slaughterhouses. The article states that the Amish practice shaving the forelocks for the convenience of bridle checks. The forelocks aid the horses to shoo flies. The article complains that the Amish regularly leave buggy horses tethered with the check rain fastened and still in traces bearing the burden of the buggy for hours.”
Many find this to be a difference of opinion or lifestyle, rather than abuse. But others argue that Amish are not fit to own animals. Amish people deny these allegations and tend to be very kind-hearted, peaceful, and good Christian people.
Of course, as mentioned about there being good and bad people in all religions – there are certainly bad Amish people. Such as the man charged with animal cruelty after beating a horse. But this generalization should still not be placed against all Amish people without more information.
- “If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.” – James 3:3.
- The Amish and Animal Cruelty – The Humane Society of the United States; Published February 3rd, 2018.
#5 How Are Amish Quilts Made?
Amish quilts are one of the major passions and crafts of women in the Amish community. Sometimes selling their quilts to tourists for between $700-$1,000, their quilts are known for their exceptional quality, unique patchwork, and distinct patterns.
Most Amish quilts are made:
- By hand
- With an appliqué style (in which small fabric pieces form a larger image or design)
- Patiently – Taking up to 22 weeks (the average quilt takes 5-7 months to complete, according to Amish Quilter).
The steps entailed are:
- Designing it
- Selecting the fabric
- Creating the pattern and layout
- Acquiring the fabric
- Creating the backbone
- Creating the quilt-top (creating the squares or snippets, sewing smaller parts together)
- Hand stitching the quilter (connecting the pieces of cloth, sewing these smaller pieces together to make bigger pieces)
- Attaching the binding edge (hand stitching all layers together).
- A Maskil of David. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah” – Psalm 32:1-5.
- Secrets of the Amish Quilts – PennLive.com; April 7th, 2018.
#6 How Are Amish Buried?
Funerals are simple, as with all things in the Amish culture.
The ‘how’ behind burials in Amish communities – Include the following attributes:
- Preparing the body usually takes 3 days in Amish society (embalming is permitted)
- Buried in an Amish-only cemetery
- Graves are dug by hand
- A wagon will carry the casket to the cemetery, not a vehicle
- The four closest family members will carry each corner, as pallbearers
- A preacher will recite a prayer at the gravesite
- Sod may be thrown on the casket by the family members
- Amish gravestones may be a piece of wood or something simple to mark the plot
- A plot map may keep track of plots at the local Church directory
- “For thus says the Lord: Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament or grieve for them, for I have taken away my peace from this people, my steadfast love and mercy, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 16:5.
- Amish and Mennonite Burial Song; Published November 26th, 2010.
#7 How Are Amish Schools Funded?
Schools are funded by the local community because they do not accept any local or government funds to support their education systems.
Amish children do not attend school past the eighth grade and do not prioritize a higher education. Since most of their life is spent on the farm and raising Christian children, intelligence is not seen as necessary, impressive, or esteemed.
Teachers’ salaries may be $25 per day, and the typical school would cost around $18,000 on average (according to Amish Buggy). With outhouses as their bathrooms, these are not formal buildings, and they would typically only cover about 1,000 sq. ft.
The land may be donated by an Amish community member.
- “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue. A poor man who oppresses the poor is a beating rain that leaves no food. Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them. Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.” – Proverbs 28:1-28.
- Amish on Schooling and Education; Published by TLC, September 26th, 2012.
#8 How Are Amish Chickens Raised?
Amish Chicken is unique because they avoid factory-farming techniques that can be seen as immoral. Usually raising chickens that are allowed to roam in open fields without the introduction of any antibiotics or hormones – people argue that Amish Chickens taste better.
Amish Chickens tend to be:
- Better Tasting
- Fed organically
- Stress-free; leading to a better flavor with less cortisol and fear-hormones released than that of a factory-raised chicken
- “Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” – Matthew 26:34.
- “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” – Matthew 6:26.
- Amish Chickens; October 3rd, 2017.
#9 How Are Amish and Quakers Different?
The significant differences (and some similarities) between these two minimalistic denominations are:
|Separation from the ‘Fallen World’||Yes||No “In the world but not of it”|
|Calvinistic||Yes||No (open to salvation)|
|Women have authority||No||Yes (equals)|
|Rituals are central (baptisms)||Yes||No|
|Alcohol||No||In moderation; discouraged|
|Priests, Bishops, or leaders||Yes||No|
|Population||270K in U.S.||210K globally, 61% of U.S. Quakers are in Pennsylvania|
|Origin/History||1693 – Anabaptist (Amish and Mennonites were led by Jakob Ammann. Those that followed Ammann). Mennonites kept separate but immigrated with the Amish/Anabaptists to escape persecution in Europe.||Known as ‘friends’ or the ‘Religious Society of Friends,’ this movement began in the mid-17th century in England. They were persecuted for their beliefs, such as believing that God existed in every person. They, like the Amish, predominantly ended up in Pennsylvania.|
· ‘Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13.
If you are interested in learning about other Religions in the world, then check out this book on World’s Religions on Amazon.