I live very near Adam-ondi-Ahman Missouri and love so much that God is allowing us to live here. I love the kinds of people who live here and the focus on this holy land and what is to take place here. Not having a church or group to meet with on Sunday, my wife and I usually hold our own worship service on tower hill at Adam-ondi-ahman. We enjoy that time very much. But I want to get to know the people around us and associated with them, and the best way to do that is on Sunday during their worship services. So on Sunday after a short service we have been attending different churches, especially the Old Order Amish, the New Order Amish, the Hutterite society, the Baptist and Mennonite.
During the next few posts I want to compare these groups and some thoughts on the gathering in the last days in relation to them and their religions.
Old Order Amish
Ever since I moved here to Missouri I’ve tried very hard to get to know as many Amish as I can. There are about 160 Amish families living around the town of Jamesport Missouri and I know maybe 25. They are organized into 4 Districts, each district is lead by a Bishop and Deacons.
Last Fall, in November I think, my wife and I went to an Old Order Amish church service held in the home of an Amish business man that we have come to know and care for. I’ll describe the experience including points that I want to compare later with the New Order Amish and the Hutterites.
As we arrived, my wife went into the where the women were assembled and she associated with the Amish women. I was led to the barn area where the men were unhooking and stabling their horses. The Men were standing in a open oval and as someone joins the group they walk around the oval greeting each person and shaking their hands. That apparently is traditional at any Amish gathering.
At the appropriate time we all filed into the meeting room where the women are already sitting and waiting for the service to start. The men filled in the benches behind where the Bishop and the other leaders will sit on chairs on the front row. They leave two rows in the middle where the young men will fill in when they finish come into the main group. My wife and I were told we could sit together if we wanted to, but chose to sit according to their tradition, men on one side and woman on the other side of the center aisle.
The whole meeting was presented in their Amish language, Pennsylvania Dutch, so we didn’t understand anything except for a few english words or phrases that slip in every once in awhile. We were told what the text of the meeting would be so we were able to follow along when Matthew 24 & 25 were read. But we were quite lost with what was going on.
We sang songs for 30 – 40 minutes all in German with the words written in the old German script. I had some experience with the old script before but it took me awhile to remember some of the technicalities, like the double f pronounced like an s. They sing their songs very slowly, all in unison. I have a vocal music background and it was the only thing that saved me. I was able to pick up on their melodies and follow along with the German words but it was not real easy. My host told me he was impressed with how quickly I picked up on their singing and apparently told many of the other Amish later on.
The singing ended when the leadership came into the meeting. I’m told they spend some time with the youth, planning with each other and with anyone else with different needs. So after the music both the youth and the leadership file into their places. One thing that was a bit startling for me was how the leadership greet each other. One of the leaders was late and he went to his seat he greeted the Bishop and other leaders with a kiss on the lips. Apparently they take the charge found in the New Testament to greet one another with an holy kiss very seriously, but this is only done among the leadership. I was once greeted unexpectantly that way by another man and it was shocking and disgusting. But to them, the holy kiss apparently is sacred and needful in their association.
As the preacher got up to preach I noticed he was the only one with a Bible, no one in the congregation had a bible besides the preacher and me and I couldn’t keep up with where he was and of course was totally lost during his elaboration of the text. The only books in the room were the hymn books with the German text.
After the meeting was over most of the men went outside and socialized. A few men and the women made the meal ready. The legs of two benches are placed in a wooden frame at each end to form a table with other benches to sit on. When all the food was placed on the tables the men were called back into the room where we enjoyed a traditional Amish Sunday meal.
I loved experiencing their Sunday worship service with the Old Order Amish and I want to point out that we were treated with respect and love by everyone.
Next post I’ll describe some experiences among the New Order Amish and make some comparisons I think are interesting with the Old Order Amish.