The Amish are widely renowned for their unwavering dedication to their faith.
Since the year 2000, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend many hours working hand-in-hand with them. I’ve spent lots of time learning about their ways, but it didn’t take me long to realize that as a people of strong faith, church is very important to them. I’d like to take this post to bring out some of the aspects of an Amish church service.
Contrary to popular belief, Amish churches don’t convene every week. They have worship once every two weeks and on specific holidays.
While the frequency with which they hold service is certainly interesting, the locale is even more intriguing. It may come as a surprise to many, but the Amish do not have churches, in the traditional sense. By this, I mean that they don’t have buildings used strictly for worship.
Instead, they hold church services inside their homes or somewhere else on their property. Outdoor services sometimes take place, but these are, of course, dependent on the weather.
Now, each church has multiple families in it, and some congregations are quite large. As a result, benches are often used during services, and in many orders, hosting duties for the services are rotated among the families within the particular church.
Many families in these orders store their own benches. When their turn to host the service comes, they’re able to set up for church and hold worship right in their home. The hosting family will often seek out help from nearby friends and church members, as they prepare to welcome a multitude of Sunday morning guests into their homes. Some families only host a service once or twice a year, depending on the size of the congregation.
Meanwhile, other orders designate someone to move the church benches and chairs from house to house throughout the year. These orders of the Amish often have some type of designated gathering place on their property, while some use their wood shops for worship.
The church benches are made by Amish carpenters, of course, and as such, they’re strong, sturdy and durable. Some benches are more advanced than others in terms of design, but they all exhibit a high degree of woodworking skill and expertise.
As for the church service itself, it begins early in the morning and can last for several hours. The men and women sit on opposite sides of the church, and while taking communion, they go into separate rooms and engage in a practice known as “foot-washing” which was taught in the Bible.
After communion, the men and women come back together for worship. Hymns are sung by the entire congregation, although no musical instruments of any kind are used. The preachers read scripture and deliver sermons, some of which can last over an hour. While Amish preachers vary in their styles, their sermons are all delivered with great passion and emotion.
After the service is over, the families will sit down to a large meal, which the wives usually spend several days preparing. After the feast, the adults of the congregation will talk and visit before going their separate ways, while the children play outside.
Sunday nights after a worship service can be exciting for the young adults of the church, as the young men will often use this time to court their future wives.
On the Sundays that they don’t have worship, the Amish usually rest. They will sometimes entertain family and friends in their homes on these days, however, while traveling to meet such acquaintances on other Sundays.
If you’ve never had dealings with the Amish, a Sunday worship service is sure to make for a remarkable experience that won’t soon be forgotten. Their steadfast devotion to God can leave quite the lasting impression, and their unyielding faith is evident throughout the entirety of the service.