My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Getting Ready for Church

A few Sundays ago, it was time for my friends Emmon and Lily (names changed) to take their turn hosting church—an event that happens once or twice a year for most Amish families.

Above is a picture of their “shop building” on the left, which is where they set up for church when it’s their turn.  Church can be held in a barn, a shop building, a large open basement, or even a rented tent in the yard.  All they need is an area big enough to set up the benches in the traditional way. 

Lots and lots of cleaning takes place in the week leading up to church Sunday!  Emmon had been busy cleaning out the shop, power washing the cement, and lots of other tasks.  Lily and her sisters and other women of the family had been cleaning the house top to bottom, raking the yard, and otherwise making everything shine.  Hosting church is a very big deal in Amish Indiana, and everyone wants to make sure they put their best foot forward.

I happened to stop by the day before, and Emmon and Lily let me take a few photos.  As you can see above, the shop building, where they normally keep their buggies and other miscellany, had been cleared out and cleaned up.  In the back on the left is the area for the married men and young boys (under sixteen) to sit, with the two preachers, deacon, and bishop in the front row.  Often there are visiting preachers, etc. from other church districts—church is held every other week, allowing for lots of visiting—so the front two rows may be taken up with them.

In the back of the photo on the right sit the married women and small children and the young girls (under sixteen).  Notice the half-row of comfy chairs in the front, for the older ladies!

The young unmarried men sit in the rows at bottom left, and the young unmarried women in the rows at the bottom right.

The bench wagon sits nearby, along with a buggy which had to be moved outside to clear the shop for church.  (I’ve written about the bench wagons before, here.)

I drove by on Sunday and took the picture below of buggies in the temporary parking lot next to the shop building—an area that had been mowed the day before just for this purpose.

After the three-hour church service, everyone gathers for a meal.  The meal has a set menu, in order to avoid the hostesses feeling pressured to compete to outdo each other: 
  • Bread  (maybe homemade)
  • Ham
  • Cheese
  • Maybe egg salad
  • Regular butter
  • Amish church peanut butter  (which I’ve written about before, here)
  • Jelly or jam
  • Canned pickles and beets
  • Coffee  (the Amish drink it black) and water
  • Cookies for dessert

Sometimes the adults sit around under a shady tree and talk all afternoon, while the children play and the young people socialize.  The Sabbath is taken seriously here, and no unnecessary work is ever done on Sunday.  It’s a day of rest and socializing and worship.

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