Saloma Miller Furlong
Author and Speaker

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Saloma Miller Furlong's Blog

 

Amish Church Troubles

Monica wrote: Oh, I love reading your reader's questions, and can't wait to see how you will answer them. Also, would like to add that a buggy ride is also no fun if the horse is shedding on a windy day.

 
Monica, about horses shedding… my father and brothers would alway make sure they curried and brushed the horses before hitching them up. I don't remember that being too much of an issue, but now that you brought it up, some horses like to switch their tails quite a bit… that can be a problem, especially when they switch up over the reins. 
 
It's always good to hear from you, Monica.
 
Kim wrote: I love the question about how the Amish feel about their English neighbors. We too have neighbors who are Amish and I've always wondered the same thing.
 
Kim, let me know if you have other questions about this.
 
Cora wrote: Given the choice, would you have wanted to be born Amish? Why or why not?
 
No, I would not. The simplicity of life that the Amish represent is appealing but I do not like the extraordinary amount of rules that inhibit individuality. I've read about a Bishop declaring what fabrics the dresses can be made out of and what is prohibited…like fabric choice can lead to sin. 
 
Another reason is simply because I am not Christian and therefor I wouldn't want to be raised in such a strict Christian setting. It's bad enough being told in the "English" world how that makes me a "bad" person, I cannot imagine how horrible it would be in an Amish world.
 
Cora, thank you for your perspective on the question posed. The ironic thing is that in my latest post I mentioned how many Amish feel skittish around people who declare themselves born again Christians. Most Amish would probably be more comfortable around someone who said they were not Christian. BUT if you are Amish and say you do not believe in the Amish ways, that is another whole kettle of fish. Then the pressure is on.
 
What aspects of the Amish lifestyle do you wonder about?
 
Touching earlier on the Bishop I read about, are there any times that an authority figure within the community makes a decree about something and there are people within the community that do not agree/follow the new rule(s)? What happens?
 
I'm also curious like Anon about what the Amish think about their "English" neighbors. Do the Amish make friends with non-Amish? Do the Amish follow the "judge not" creed or do they secretly judge all the "English" for being "worldly"?
 
I think the last set of questions have been answered in my latest post, but your first set really brings up a good question. I cannot answer for the Amish in general, because their rules are not centralized, so it most likely varies a great deal from one community to another.
 
Some years after I left the community, an issue arose around my parents and funding for their health care. At the time, there was a controversy around whether members should or should not accept social security. I don’t know whether my parents already were accepting social security benefits or if they were thinking of doing so, but my mother needed to have a pacemaker put in. My parents went to the church to ask for assistance with that, which is customary for families who need it. The Amish have a collection during each communion service (twice a year) to help people in the community with their hospital bills. In this case, the bishop recommended that my parents not get it, and the reason had to do with the social security. Apparently several people in the church disagreed with the bishop. The district could not have communion service, because of that. The Amish believe that communion services are an outward sign that there is peace among members of the congregation. They need to have an “ehnliche Rot” (unanimous decision) in all church matters for communion services to happen.
 
I believe my parents did get the help they asked for. Apparently, a year later when the bishop’s wife needed knee surgery the bishop asked for help with the hospital bill. Several people in the church voted no. The congregation had to forego communion services yet again. This kind of thing happens only in rare occasions.
 
Your other question has to do with what happens when someone doesn’t do what he is being asked to by the elders. It depends on the “offense” and whether the errant member eventually gives in to the repeated requests that he make a public confession. A standoff can lead to excommunication. 
 
Thank you all, for your thoughts and questions. They make me think of things in a whole new way and I notice things I hadn't before.

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