My morning at an Amish church service
This past Sunday we attended an Amish Church service to celebrate my husband’s brother and girlfriend getting baptized. They had asked us to attend the service. I was a little anxious about sitting on the hard benches for that long, but I was also looking forward to see how the church services have changed since I used to attend on a regular basis.
The services traditionally start around 8:30 a.m. First the preachers file in with the married men. Next came the married ladies, then the single young girls, and last but not least, the single boys. This is all done by age, as the oldest to the youngest file in to a shop or home. As soon as the men enter, they remove their hats. This is all done in a quiet orderly fashion.
The men and boys sit on one side facing the ladies and girls on other side with an aisle remaining in the middle where the preacher stands.
One of the elderly men announces the page of the songbook and asks a guest to lead the song. They then have a beautiful chant-like opening song. During this song, the preachers file out to have prayer and counsel. They stay out for an hour while the rest of the church sing songs.
I was amazed at the patience of the kids on the laps of a parent or sitting beside the parent for this 3-to 4-hour service. They have little black purses in which they have quiet toys, books, little tablets and pencils or a handkerchief to play with. I remember growing up how we made a mouse or a flower out of folds from a hankie.
There is also pretzels, animal crackers, Ritz crackers and cookies set out for the children to take turns coming up to a table and filling a baggy that is provided by the hostess.
When the preachers return from prayer the sermon starts. Three different preachers take part in the service that is spoken mostly in Dutch. The Bible is read in High German but each preacher stops to take time to translate it into Dutch so the young children can understand it.
Speaking from my husband’s and my perspective of the sermon, we were highly impressed on how spiritual and truthful teaching the sermon was.
Toward the end of the preaching, the bishop asked us all to stand for prayer for the ones getting baptized, as they were kneeled down in the center of the ceremony. Then we all had a seat and the ones getting baptized remained kneeling. The bishop asked them some questions and following their “yes” answers, another preacher held his palms over their heads while the bishop poured little bits of water in the preacher’s palm and it trickled down over their heads. We were lucky with our seats as we sat right in front of the baptismal. It was very spiritual and touching, as we wiped tears.
Afterward we all kneeled down in prayer together, and then stood up as the Bible was read again. It is during this part that all the members of the Amish church made a dipping motion with their knees. It is done in unison and they all know when to do the dip. This is the part where my kids look at me and say what was that?
Then a final chanting song is sang as the hostess and helpers, who are close friends and relatives form out of the service to make the final arrangements for the lunch that is served right after service. The last song lasts about 20 minutes.
Then when services are over the boys and girls file out of the shop. They eat around a table where they just stand to eat. The young mothers go feed their children baby soup, which is a milk bread soup. I have this recipe on Ohio’s Amish Country recipes.
Next the benches we sat on are transformed into tables and tablecloths are spread on each one, and the meal is served. The typical Amish church lunch consists of coffee, homemade bread, peanut butter spread (another recipe also on Ohio’s Amish Country), or strawberry marshmallow spread, ham, cheese, pickles, red beets and pie.
My daughter and I sat across some very nice ladies. They answered my questions and showed so much kindness and respect towards us. The one lady said last year over 900 babies were born in the Amish community and only a little over a 100 people died so they are multiplying as a community at a fast rate.
Our experience visiting the Amish Church was a positive experience and I am thankful that I came from this wonderful heritage!
Lena’s Amish Granola