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The Complexity of Simplicity (1 of 2)
Ed Rowell, Teaching Pastor
January 16, 2002
I've always been fascinated with the Amish. A few years ago I did a wedding for a friend in southeastern Ohio, which, along with Lancaster county, PA, is home to most of America's Amish community, and had just a little chance to find out more about them.
The Amish stress humility, family and community, and separation from the world. The Amish have their roots in the Mennonite community. Both were part of the early Anabaptist movement in Europe, which took place at the time of the Reformation. The Anabaptists believed that only adults who had confessed their faith should be baptized, and that they should remain separate from the larger society. Many early Anabaptists were put to death as heretics by both Catholics and Protestants, and many others fled to the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany. Here began the Amish tradition of farming and holding their worship services in homes rather than churches.
In 1536, a young Catholic priest from Holland named Menno Simons joined the Anabaptist movement. His writings and leadership united many of the Anabaptist groups, who were nicknamed "Mennonites." In 1693, a Swiss bishop named Jacob Amman broke from the Mennonite church. His followers were called the "Amish." Although the two groups have split several times, the Amish and Mennonite churches still share the same beliefs concerning baptism, non-resistance, and basic Bible doctrines. They differ in matters of dress, technology, language, form of worship, and interpretation of the Bible.
The Amish and Mennonites both settled in Pennsylvania as part of William Penn's "holy experiment" of religious tolerance. The first sizable group of Amish arrived in Lancaster County, PA in the 1720's or 1730's.
Although the Amish look like they stepped out of the rural nineteenth century, in fact they do change. Their lives move more slowly than ours ...
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