The Young Center, one of my favorite websites for reliable information about the Amish, published a post entitled "Amish Population Profile, 2017" which reports that in the last ten years, the total Amish population in North America grew from about 218,000 to 318,000 - wow!
Peeking through the door into the workroom at Ervin's Hardwood Furniture... I have a friend who buys a child-sized rocking chair here for every new grandchild. I wrote a blog about Ervin's a while back... Read it here.
My husband found an interesting article! I've spent time in an Amish buggy shop and it's amazing the options that are available these days. This article from Popular Mechanics magazine addresses that topic:
So… the Amish don’t have church buildings, but rather, they take
turns hosting church, which is held once every two weeks. A family typically will host church twice a
year. One of the things that makes this
easier is the bench wagon.
Last summer I was hanging out with some Amish friends in
Goshen, Indiana, and they had a brand-new, state-of-the-art bench wagon sitting
in their yard. They offered to show me
how it was arranged, and they said it was fine if I took photos. They didn’t have to tell me twice!
I’ve been intrigued by bench wagons for years, and I’ve always wanted to
see one up close.
Here’s how it works: Each
church district has their own horse-drawn bench wagon. The wagon is taken to wherever church (or
some other event, like a wedding or funeral) is going to be held. Everything is organized for easy storage and
to make sure nothing goes missing between events.
The essence of the bench wagon is the benches! They are stored in the back of the wagon. The number on the end of the bench tells how many
feet long it is. There are two fold-down
uprights, one on each end of the bench, so setup is easy. On this new bench wagon, the shelves are
carpeted, and there is a chart on the left back door which shows how to store
them properly and how many there should be.
The side and front doors of the wagon hold more goodies—everything
needed to host and conduct a church service.
The Ausbund, or
hymnal, is the same one that the Amish have used for hundreds of years. It is written in old German, much like
Shakespearean English—very different from the “Dutch” that the Amish speak as
their first and main language. The
hymnals are stored in these tough plastic boxes with handy lifting slots cut
into them. Each box holds 24 books.
This bench wagon belongs to church district 71-2, so
everything in the wagon carries that number.
These hymnbooks look very fresh and new—because this was a
recently-formed church district, so the wagon and everything in it was recently
purchased and assembled.
After a three-hour church service, there is always a meal! The menu is fairly well set, including Amish church peanut butter, which I’ve written about
before. The bench wagon contains all the
dishes, flatware, etc. needed to serve a congregation of 10-15 families, all
organized and labeled.
All in all, the bench wagon is an idea that works well, and
I was glad to see this one up close!
This is the final installment of my comments on an article I
recently came across online entitled “25 Facts About the Amish That Everyone
Should Know”—a well-meaning article filled with the typical misinformation
about the Amish which is constantly floating around the internet...
7. The Population In Amish Communities Is
Because Amish get married so young and have so many children, their communities
actually see a yearly growth rate of 3.6%!
The Amish don’t get married that young, but they do have a
lot of children—and in Northern Indiana, 90% of them remain in the Amish faith. Experts agree that the Amish population is
doubling about every twenty years.
6. Their Modesty Extends To Their Opinions Of Others.
The Amish are not arrogant people, as they see that as a sin. This being so,
they do not judge or condemn people of the modern world for their lifestyle
I would think that Amish opinions about those of us in the
modern world would vary widely from person to person. I know that my own Amish friends seem to
accept my faith and lifestyle as being okay for me, at least. They sometimes close their letters to me with
“Love” or “God Bless You.” It seems that
they feel that if a person is born Amish, then God probably wants him or her to
be Amish; but if a person is born something else, then they wouldn’t really
expect us to convert.
The photo? These
girls in their printed dresses, one with long braids, are not Amish, but
perhaps they are German Baptists or another conservative group.
5. They Wait Until A Person Is Old Enough To Make
The Decision To Be Baptized.
Unlike some Christian branches, the Amish believe in waiting until a person is
old enough, typically around age 16-24, before accepting the religion.
This is true.
“Joining church” is a serious and lifelong commitment, so they want
their young people to count the cost, so to speak, and be sure of their
decision. In Amish Indiana, I believe
the typical age is more like 18-19 to 24.
Interesting photo, but certainly not Amish. The Amish are baptized by “sprinkling,” not
4. There Are More Amish People Than You Would
Guess To Be Living In America.
There are reportedly over 300,000 Amish people living in America! It would be
hard for anyone not familiar with Amish communities to know just how many
people actually reside in these communities.
The Young Center’s Amish Studies project and other reliable
sources agree with the 300,000 number.
Since so many live in rural areas, it does make them less visible to the
3. The Amish Are Pacifists Who Will Never Serve
In The Military.
Not only are the Amish soft-spoken, but they are also against violence in any
form. Because of this, no men are allowed to join the military. If they do
join, they are banned from the community.
The Amish are conscientious objectors who will not serve in
the military, although, historically, they have accepted forms of peaceful “alternative
service” in times of war. They are
against violence in any form, including self-defense; they call this belief
2. Building Barns Is A Form Of Fun And
Socialization In Communities.
Building barns is one way the men in Amish communities pass the time and
socialize in large groups.
Barn-raisings are still an important part of the Amish
community. During one recent visit with
some Amish friends, the husband told me he had spent most of the previous week
at a barn-raising. Ten or twenty years
ago, which was few years after I first met him and his wife, the ancient barn
on their own farm was torn down and replaced with a newer, better one by a
barn-raising group of local Amishmen.
The photo accompanying the article looks extremely fake,
however; no one would build a barn like that!
1. Contrary To Popular Belief, The Amish Don’t
Mind Having Their Photos Taken By Others.
While the Amish aren’t opposed to allowing people to take their pictures, they
do not take photographs themselves or keep them in their homes.
This is totally untrue.
Most Amish very much object to having their pictures taken by
others. As an example: In 2007, six of my Amish friends came to my
Presbyterian wedding. One of them walked
over to the wedding photographer before the service started, and he asked him
not to take any photos of them. When I
visit Amish friends, I have, on occasion, asked if I could take a picture of
the farm, or the woods, or a garden, or some such thing, and they were fine
with that. One time recently I was looking
at a brand-new bench wagon, and they even asked me if I wanted to take any
photos, which I did! (I am saving the
pictures for a future blog post on bench wagons.)
I would guess that the author of this article meant no
harm… But it is harmful to spread this kind of disinformation. The Amish are misunderstood enough as it
is! I don’t know everything there is to
know about the Amish, and customs do differ somewhat from one Amish community
to another—but I hope this helps.
For further information on the Amish, try these reliable
This is a continuation of comments on an article I recently
came across online entitled “25 Facts About the Amish That Everyone Should
Know”—a well-meaning article filled with the typical misinformation about the
Amish which is constantly floating around the internet...
13. Mennonites And Amish Are Distinctly Two
Both communities find it greatly insulting to be mistaken for one another. The
Mennonites, pictured on the left, are not as strict as the Amish. Mennonites
may wear brighter colors, drive cars, and even live modernly.
The “greatly insulting” part made me smile!… As far as “strictness,” both the Mennonites
and the Amish vary from group to group.
The Mennonites fall on a continuum, with Old Order Mennonites on one
end—horse and buggy and nearly as strict as the Amish—to modern Mennonite churches
on the other end, where dress and lifestyle are no different than the
Presbyterian church where I grew up.
The Amish also fall on a continuum, but a narrower one. The Nebraska Amish are
so strict that they won’t use screens on windows, or carpets or curtains—but on
the other hand, a small group called the Beachy Amish have phones in their
homes and drive cars.
The photo? The people
in the left photo are not Mennonites—I believe those are Amish women from
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, based on the headgear.
The photo on the right, of the women all dressed in black? I don’t know who or what they are!
12. The Amish Came To America From Switzerland In
The 18th Century.
The Amish escaped persecution in Europe by immigrating to America. They found
live more peaceful in their new country and decided to make it their permanent
The greatest Amish immigration did happen in the 18th
century (1700s), when most of the Amish in Europe came to Pennsylvania, at the
invitation of William Penn, for religious freedom (and to escape military
service in Europe). A smaller group,
even more conservative, called the Swiss Amish, came in the 1800s. I wrote a blog postabout
The photo? Those
aren’t Amishmen, and it wasn’t taken in the 18th century, when
photography hadn’t yet come onto the scene.
11. They Refuse Genealogical Testing Because Of Suspected
Despite living in small communities and reported inbreeding, the Amish refuse
testing that would tell them who is related to who as they claim the testing is
not of God’s will.
Besides being a blogger about the Indiana Amish, I am also a
I’ve done lots and lots of Amish genealogy, and my various Amish friends
were thrilled to receive an ancestry binder which outlined their family history
and “who was related to who.” I found
that the rate of semi-close relatives marrying was about the same as it was in the
“English” genealogies I’ve done—which is to say, it was and is extremely rare,
but not unheard of. The Amish may be
uneducated, but they are not stupid.
They are aware of the dangers of inbreeding, and as a rule, they are
very careful about avoiding it.
10. Jakob Ammann Is Credited With Starting The
Jakob Ammann, an Anabaptist leader, began the Amish movement when he left
Switzerland and other Christians decided to join him. Obviously, the word
“Amish” comes from Jakob’s last name.
When Jacob Ammann decided to leave Switzerland, it’s not so
much that “other Christians decided to join him.” Rather, the Amish left Europe as a group and
came to America. Jakob and his followers
were originally Mennonites, but they broke off because Jakob felt that the
Mennonites were not strict enough on certain issues, particularly “shunning.” He is indeed the founder of the Amish church,
and it is named after him.
9. Women Are Considered Second Class Citizens.
As their tradition and old-fashioned thinking dictates, women are treated as
second class citizens. This means girls are only destined to become housewives
to cook, clean, and raise children.
I think my Amish women friends would disagree with the
“second class citizen” statement. As in
many conservative Christian churches, male and female roles are well defined—and
Amish families are large, due to the ban on birth control. But I have seen true love and respect in the
Amish marriages I’ve observed. My
original Amish friend Glenn has gone out of his way, over and over, to do
things for his wife to make her life easier and better. One time, he asked my husband to take them
shopping for a good leaf blower; leaf cleanup is the wife’s role, as is all
yardwork, but Glenn didn’t like to see his wife all tired out from a day of
raking. He and his wife are partners and
best friends and have one of the best marriages I know.
The photo? I don’t
know what religious group these women belong to. It’s very strange!
8. The Average Amish Couple Has Between Five And
Amish communities do not believe in or use contraceptives, which results in
large families. It’s also said they aim to have as many children as possible!
I not so sure about the aim as stated above; but due to the
lack of contraceptives, families do tend to be large. Reliable experts say that six to seven children would be typical.