Frequently Asked Questions

Overview

 

Core Beliefs

1.1 Do Beachy Amish-Mennonites believe that a person is saved only through the forgiveness that Jesus Christ provided through his death & resurrection? Do the Beachy Amish-Mennonites believe that salvation can be earned through practice or tradition?

1.2 Do the Beachy Amish-Mennonites accept the Apostle’s Creed?

1.3 Do the Beachy Amish-Mennonites send out missionaries?

1.4 Are there any doctrinal differences between Beachy Amish-Mennonites and conservative Christians?

 

Visiting and Attending a Beachy Amish-Mennonite church

2.1 Can I visit a church unannounced, or should I contact someone first?

2.2 Is it unusual for a non-Beachy/non-Mennonite to visit a Beachy Amish-Mennonite church?

2.3 I visited a Mennonite church and the people were not plain. What’s going on?

2.4 What will people think of me when I visit?

2.5 How should I dress?

2.6 Why do men and women sit separately in church services?

2.7 What are the “unexpecteds” I should expect?

2.8 What should I know about a meal invitation?

2.9 Do the Beachy Amish-Mennonites accept people who did not grow up in that setting but want to join?

2.10 How does one join a Beachy Amish-Mennonite church?

 

Garb and the Head Covering

3.1 Why do women wear head coverings?

3.2 Why do some of the women wear different styles of covering?

3.3 Why do the women wear garb that stands out more than the men?

 

Specific Practices and Beliefs

4.1 Do Beachy Amish-Mennonites use horse and buggies or do they drive cars?

4.2 Do Beachy Amish-Mennonites have electricity and other modern conveniences?

4.3 What about computers and Internet?

4.4 What about education?

4.5 Which Bible translation do Beachy Amish-Mennonites use?

4.6 What do the Beachy Amish-Mennonites believe about Christmas?

 

The Beachy Amish-Mennonite People and Culture

5.1 What can you tell me about the cultural practices of the Beachy Amish-Mennonites?

5.2 What are some of the Beachy Amish-Mennonite’s struggles?

5.3 Do Beachy Amish-Mennonites speak Pennsylvania Dutch?

5.4 In what sort of setting do Beachy Amish-Mennonites live? Do any live in the city?

5.5 What are the backgrounds of Beachy Amish-Mennonite people?

5.6 What sort of jobs do Beachy Amish-Mennonites have?

5.7 Are there African Americans or other ethnic minorities in the Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches?

5.8 What age do Beachy Amish-Mennonites get married? What are weddings like?

5.9 Would I be able to court or marry a Beachy Amish-Mennonite person?

 

Affiliation and Constituency

6.1 What is the difference between the Amish and the Mennonites?

6.2 What is the difference between the Amish and Mennonites today?

6.3 What are the “Anabaptists”?

6.4 What is an "Amish-Mennonite" group?

6.5 Who was "Beachy"?

6.6 What is the difference between the Amish and the Beachy Amish-Mennonites?

6.7 What is the difference between the Mennonites and the Beachy Amish-Mennonites Amish-Mennonites? 

6.8 How many Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches and members are there?

6.9 What are differences among Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches?

 

Core Beliefs

1.1 Do Beachy Amish-Mennonites believe that a person is saved only through the forgiveness that Jesus Christ provided through his death & resurrection? Do the Beachy Amish-Mennonites believe that salvation can be earned through practice or tradition?

Salvation is a gift from God, available only through the ultimate sacrifice of Christ that ended all sacrifices, and made available by His resurrection, proving that now even death was under Christ’s dominion. Through Christ and His Spirit, believers are led of His will, wanting to do what pleases the Father. Therefore, Beachy Amish-Mennonites believe that Biblical and Godly practice is an outpouring of a desire to please the Father. Salvation is not only a one-time event, but a life-long outworking of the Spirit. This is part of the fruit of which Christ speaks (Matthew 13:23).

 

1.2 Do the Beachy Amish-Mennonites accept the Apostle’s Creed?

While the Apostle’s Creed is not a major emphasis, the Beachy Amish-Mennonites would accept the principles thereof.

 

1.3 Do the Beachy Amish-Mennonites send out missionaries?

Yes, the Beachy Amish-Mennonites hold to the “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:19-20. The Beachy Amish-Mennonites have established ministries in Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Kenya, Ireland, Romania, Ukraine, and Australia, as well as a ministerial presence in many other countries through other para-church Anabaptist organizations such as Christian Aid Ministries (CAM).

 

1.4 Are there any doctrinal differences between Beachy Amish-Mennonites and conservative Christians?

Beachy Amish-Mennonites have religious roots in the Amish, and therefore, have some Amish beliefs carried over. One of these is the emphasis on the community of believers. Thus, many beliefs have a community emphasis, such as submission to leaders and church practices, closed communion (available only to members of that congregation), excommunication of deviant/inactive members, congregational singing rather than instrumentalists and soloists, ordination by the call of the church rather than the personal call of the individual, and mutual aid programs instead of private insurance. Members help each other out in various ways, whether giving a gift of bread, sending an adolescent daughter to help a mother who has just given birth to a child, or mowing the lawn of an elderly church member. Thus, whereas modern Christian emphasizes a personal religion, the Anabaptist religion emphasizes the necessity of the group in Christianity. Another major difference is the Beachy Amish-Mennonites, like other plain Anabaptists, believe that the perfection of Christ is best achieved through the church, and that while God has instituted the state as a governing organization, it is ultimately imperfect as a site of carnal methods, such as legal and militant force. Thus, Beachy Amish-Mennonites believe the church should be separate from the state, for the purity of the church.

 

For more information about core beliefs, please visit the Doctrines page.

 

Visiting and Attending a Beachy Amish-Mennonite church

2.1 Can I visit a church unannounced, or should I contact someone first?

Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches welcome people to just show up on a given Sunday, as one would with many other denominations. However, because there are not as many “in-and-out” visitors in Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches, you may wish to contact the bishop, minister, or another church member ahead of time, but this is neither necessary nor even expected of visitors.

 

2.2 Is it unusual for a non-Beachy/non-Mennonite to visit a Beachy Amish-Mennonite church?

No, it is not unusual for most churches. While there may not be non-Beachy/non-Mennonite visitors most Sundays, many churches are accustomed to having them as visitors. However, the church community is close enough that they do know when there are visitors, even in larger churches. (Please forgive any looks or people taking special notice; it’s not polite, but it happens. And, after all, the plain people get stared at most everywhere else they go! )

 

2.3 I visited a Mennonite church and the people were not plain. What’s going on?

Because being “plain” is different than the rest of society, many Amish and Mennonites have not wanted to be plain anymore. They did not see value in it. Entire churches have gotten away from being plain, but they still call themselves “Mennonite” because they hold to some historic Mennonite doctrines. Some plain churches today are going through a transition to become no longer plain, but not all. The Mennonite churches you find on Internet websites will almost always be non-plain Mennonites. They are more integrated into society, and therefore use things like the Internet more readily to provide information for their church group. Even the “Conservative Mennonite Conference,” despite its name, is not a plain group. This website provides a church referral service if you want to locate a plain church.

 

2.4 What will people think of me when I visit?

People will likely be curious about you and ask questions. Don't be intimidated, and feel free to ask questions in return. This is how we learn from one another. Some are afraid that the Beachy Amish-Mennonites or other plain people will look down on them or judge them for being, looking, or acting differently. This happens rarely on a visit. Instead, the Beachy Amish-Mennonites and Mennonites you will meet are often friendly, courteous, respectful, and not pushy.

 

2.5 How should I dress?

There are no requirements for visitors. First of all, you do not have to worry about dressing "right" or trying to imitate their way of dress. You are a visitor and not a church member, and are therefore not expected to dress like them. Formal wear is appreciated, but once again, there is no requirement. However, the following are recommendations for how you may wish to dress to be respectful to the Beachy beliefs of modesty. Men may wish to dress as they would normally for a formal occasion. Ties are fine, and may even help you be clearly identified as a visitor (which is good). You may wish to steer away from shorts. Women may want to wear a skirt or dress that reaches to the knees or below with socks or hose covering any exposed areas. A jumper may also work. The blouse (with the skirt) should not be too tight or see-through and should have sleeves of some length. Jewelry and makeup should be moderate or absent. Hair may be worn up, but is not required. A head covering, though adhered to as a Biblical command by the Beachy Amish-Mennonites, is not required for visitors, and you would not need to wear one unless you already regularly wear some sort of covering.

 

2.6 Why do men and women sit separately in church services?

While most Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches have separate seating, a few smaller churches allow couples to sit together, though singles remain on their sides. There are a couple reasons many Beachy and conservative Mennonite congregations retain separate seating.

             1) Because God assigns different roles for men and women in church services (see 1 Corinthians 11 and 14, for example), it is appropriate to have them grouped together so that they can be together as each fulfills his or her roles, such as men being in the leadership role.

             2) With mixed seating, there is an emphasis on families sitting together. But when we come together, we are a church family, and the family institution takes a secondary role to the eternal family of God. We ought to function as a church family, not a church of families. Matthew 12:47-50.

 

2.7 What are the “unexpecteds” I should expect?

· The congregation may “bow” or “kneel” to pray. This is like praying at your bedside, except the bed is the pew you were sitting on. Everyone does this at once. You turn around to pray rather than praying forward as is common at Episcopal or Catholic churches.

· Stay after the service and visit with people. This is a time of conversation and fellowship. Casual visiting is typically not done before the service. People may seem unfriendly before the church service, but this is not the case. They are being quiet because they want to come to church in reverence and reserve the chatting for after the service is over.

· Members exchange a handshake and simultaneous "holy kiss" as spoken of at the end of several epistles. The holy kiss is exchanged among members and like-minded Mennonite groups. For men especially, if someone is about to kiss you, politely inform them that you are not a member. Do not feel rejected or excluded because you are not kissed; this is not the intention.

· You may wish to bring a King James Version Bible with you. This is the translation used, and Bibles are not provided at the church.

· There are no choirs, and singing is done by the congregation. The singing is a cappella. If you have trouble singing along, don't feel bad. The members grew up singing this way so it comes naturally.

· You will likely receive an invitation to a meal at a family's home after the service. Accept the invitation if you are able. It is a good way to get to know people outside of church.

 

2.8 What should I know about a meal invitation?

It’s not important to get everything “right,” but these are some pointers. Don’t worry that you might offend someone by doing something wrong; this may be all new to you, and the hosts realize this.

 

Sunday meal invitations are common among the plain people; there may be others from the church also invited to the same family’s house for a meal. At your meal invitation, unless guided otherwise, your party’s women may join the other women in the kitchen and your party’s men may sit in the living room. When the meal is ready, the host will tell you where to sit at the table. After a prayer, wait for the host to instruct on how to pass the food or when to join the line if it is buffet style. Take what you can eat, but don’t leave leftovers on your plate. Keep the silverware you used for your meal for dessert also. When the host dismisses from the meal, the women can go to the kitchen for clean-up and the men to the living room, until the women are done cleaning, and then they will join the men in the living room. Chat for 20 to 60 minutes, and unless the conversation is going very well, simply suggest that it is time to head out; you need no excuse to leave. If the host says, “You’re welcome to stay longer,” don’t, unless they’re adamant. This is just a formality. Most Beachy Amish-Mennonites take a nap between 3:30pm and 5pm Sunday afternoon. Another way to dismiss yourself is to do so when other guests dismiss themselves. If there’s an evening service and you want to attend, ask about it. If you came from a distance and want to stay, the host will likely provide accommodations. If you don’t want to nap and the conversation is going well, keep talking. Naps aren’t a hard-and-fast rule. If they want their nap, you may be able to read a book in the living room before a light supper is served.

 

2.9 Do the Beachy Amish-Mennonites accept people who did not grow up in that setting but want to join?

Yes. There is usually at least one person from “non-Mennonite background” (NMB) in most Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches. If you visit or attend a Beachy Amish-Mennonite church regularly, you may wish to open communication with these people to get advice and support.

 

2.10 How does one join a Beachy Amish-Mennonite church?

First, attend a Beachy Amish-Mennonite church for a comfortable amount of time. For some people, this is short, maybe three to six months; for others, this may be many years. (I took two years.) After evaluating the church and deciding if this is a commitment you want to make (both spiritually and culturally), approach the bishop to inquire about membership. What follows is a six month “proving” period where the individual is instructed in the church beliefs and practices, which may include review of the church guidance and statements of faith, such as Dordrecht Confession of Faith (1633). After the six months, if there are no issues for either the individual or the church, the person will be accepted into the congregation. If the person had not been baptized before, then at this point he will be baptized. When joining, keep in mind the reaction of immediate and extended family. If your spouse does not want to go along with it, take some extra time and caution in joining.

 

Garb and the Head Covering

3.1 Why do women wear head coverings?

The Beachy Amish-Mennonites, Amish, and many Mennonites wear coverings, but so do other some Christians today who have been convicted of doing so from reading the Bible. There is becoming more and more of a realization that the Bible teaches the wearing of the head covering for Christian women. This is taught in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, right next to the passage on communion. People write off the head covering for all sorts of reasons today, saying it is cultural or just for the time, etc... but what is the real motive for doing so? Many Christians today want their appearance looking good or attractive, and ignore passages that address appearance like 1 Peter 3:1-6. The head covering would be an additional burden to looking attractive or stylish. Paul speaks to universal and spiritual reasons to wear the covering, not all the other stuff people come up with today. Angels, prayer, headship order, among other reasons, are of eternal value, not cultural or time-period relativity. Also, God wants women to have long hair as it says in 1 Cor. 11, but this isn't the only covering. Verse six wouldn't make sense if Paul said that long hair was the only covering. You may read more about the head covering in the book The Ornament of a Spirit, written by this website’s author (see the library page).

 

3.2 Why do some of the women wear different styles of covering?

Because there is so much congregational autonomy within Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches, Beachy Amish-Mennonites churches can craft their own guiding practices, including style of head covering. The traditional bonnet-style covering is the most common, but some churches have switched to the veil, which is a white or black cloth draped over the head. The veil is often used on the global mission field. Some of the more conservative Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches have adopted a style similar to the Old Order Amish of the Midwest. It resembles the traditional bonnet-style, but is larger and is opaque. This subject is addressed in The Ornament of a Spirit (see the library page)..

 

3.3 Why do the women wear garb that stands out more than the men?

First of all, there are many men in the Beachy Amish-Mennonite church that wear plain garb that complements women’s clothes. However, some Beachy Amish-Mennonites do espouse the view that plain garb is of little importance compared to greater issues and Scriptural “principles.” This movement may be somewhat a reaction against an overemphasis on plain garb, it may be a desire to get away from distinctive garb to fashionable garb, it may be an excuse to accommodate a heart desiring secular fashion, or it may be a reaction against uniform church guidance and accountability in general. There may be other possibilities, but in about all cases it may be an inability for the person born in Beachy culture to recognize the simple significance and testimony that such plain garb produces when complemented by the character one expects from people who dress in the distinctive manner. Instead, the “dress standard” is shrouded with cultural connotations. This question is more complicated than this brief answer has been able to do justice to, and is a question of ongoing frustration among Beachy Amish-Mennonites that is guaranteed to spark discussion, both the mutually edifying conversations and the agitated, polarized debates.

 

In some of the more mainstream Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches, the women dress less plain, too, with smaller, less distinctive coverings and coats that cover up the evidence that they are wearing a full dress with a cape. There are entire fashion trends for church-prescribed garb that make the whole concept of plain clothes an oxymoron. For example, capes on women’s dresses that are meant to conceal the figure are tightened to accent the body, or a simple dress is spruced up with eye-catching variations at the waist or dress/sleeve ends. Therefore, the desire among some within Beachy circles (or any conservative Amish or Mennonite church for that matter) to get away from plainness is not just among the men.

  

Specific Practices and Beliefs

4.1 Do Beachy Amish-Mennonites use horse and buggies or do they drive cars?

Beachy Amish-Mennonites all drive cars. No Beachy Amish-Mennonites would use horse and buggies.

 

4.2 Do Beachy Amish-Mennonites have electricity and other modern conveniences?

Beachy Amish-Mennonites do not abstain from as many technologies as the Old Order Amish. All Beachy Amish-Mennonites would have electricity, telephones, and modern kitchen appliances. Most churches, though not all, would allow computers, cell phones, tape and CD players, and cameras. None allow television. Individual churches decide what to allow and what not to allow based on the extent to which they wish to control the level of influence from surrounding secular society, and the level of technology acceptance in any given church is reflected in the amount the church’s practices and mindsets are influenced and blended with that of Western society.

 

4.3 What about computers and Internet?

The more conservative groups would either prohibit computers or limit computer use to record-keeping and forbid Internet. Moderate groups allow computer use and make some sort of limitation on the Internet, such as, email-only, Internet use allowed outside of home (work or library) but not in the home, or filter software. Liberal groups may make some sort of limitation on Internet usage, such as filter software or an accountability program, but it is not strongly enforced.

 

4.4 What about education?

Many only complete an eighth grade education, though it is becoming more common in the oncoming generation to complete high school. School attendance is mostly at private Beachy or other Anabaptist church schools. A minority would home school their children, but none would attend public schools. A very few go on to college, and if they do, it is usually for a technical degree required for a service occupation, such as nursing. Most Beachy Amish-Mennonites employ one another, and their occupations do not require a higher degree.

 

4.5 Which Bible translation do Beachy Amish-Mennonites use?

All Beachy Amish-Mennonites use the King James Version (KJV) as their standard text. The moderate and more relaxed Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches would use other translations in study and as a supplement, and may reference them in services. The Beachy Amish-Mennonites who know German will use Luther’s Bible in the same way other English translations are used. Beachy Amish-Mennonites in Latin America will use the Santa Anna Bible. Few Beachy Amish-Mennonites are strong about KJV-only, even if it is the standard translation.

 

4.6 What do the Beachy Amish-Mennonites believe about Christmas?

Beachy Amish-Mennonites would observe Christmas, but would not be as involved in the materialism. A few gifts are exchanged. In most homes there are no Christmas trees or lavish decorations. Church members or groups within the church may go Christmas caroling several times in December; this is a highlight of December for members. Beachy Amish-Mennonites also observe Good Friday and Easter, and to a lesser extent, Ascension Day.

 

The Beachy People and Culture

5.1 What can you tell me about the cultural practices of the Beachy Amish-Mennonites?

The Beachy Amish-Mennonites do have many Western cultural practices, but they have their own set of unique practices, too. These are difficult to all spell out, as many are elusive subtle behaviors that may be difficult for the person of non-Anabaptist background to pick up on. The cultural traits can sometimes be frustrating to a church member from a different background, but they can be overcome as each party learns from one another and shares love that is rooted in Christ and the church He has created. As in crossing into any culture, take time to unconsciously and consciously absorb these nuances, and be quick to recognize friction as arising from these sorts of misunderstandings rather than overt conflict. If you want to join, you will not only be getting a religious package; you will have to take the cultural package, too. And just as each of us never reflects on why we do all the small things we do, Beachy Amish-Mennonites are not aware of all the little differences that may seem obvious to the outsider. What they may think of as their “cultural practices” are a select few disputed boundary issues, not the actual subtle array of cultural practices.

 

5.2 What are some of the Beachy’s struggles?

Beachy Amish-Mennonites in the US and Canada will often admit that their record in bringing community people into the church or to salvation is less than what they want it to be, and more than that, it’s not much of an actual emphasis or personal interest among most, despite an evangelical orientation. This may be in part because the attractiveness of the practice is appealing mostly to those serious about an extensive change in practice to follow Biblical principles, but not to the common person. It may also be because Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches are cultural enclaves in their community; Beachy Amish-Mennonites struggle to be a part of the community and interact with locals. The balance between too much separation from the world and not enough is an ongoing question in dealings with the community. The Beachy Amish-Mennonites are also disappointed in the many community people who have attended or joined a church for several years and then left. Friendships are broken. The reasons for the coming and then going are complex, but may rest partly in cultural differences and partly in the person’s expectations versus what he finds the church to really be like.

 

Beachy Amish-Mennonites also struggle with their identity. Because the story of the Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches has been one of frequent change, they struggle to know who they are today, who they were yesterday, or who they will be tomorrow, or what really is the best way to practice their religion. Some people want more allowances in the church guidance, while others want to hold to the current practice. This tension has caused many hurts and divisions, as well as has pricked people’s faith. Each generation faces a struggle with discontentment about the practices that they have been given.

 

Beachy Amish-Mennonites, like many Americans today, also struggle with materialism and business. Beachy Amish-Mennonites are moving away from agriculture and towards professional trades and service jobs. Many own small businesses and have acquired much wealth. Beachy Amish-Mennonites acknowledge their failure by and large in eschewing the riches of this world and not pursuing the American dream, but also struggle to know what role wealth plays in the believer’s life. Teaching against materialism gets much lip service, but no programs exist to implement these expressed reservations. There are Beachy millionaires and multi-millionaires, but there is also an absence of sharp class differences found in mainstream society.

 

On a constituency-wide level, there is little uniformity among the various Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches, to the extent that some Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches do not hold fellowship (or on-going relations) with other churches. There is little definition for what congregation is Beachy and what congregation isn’t, and many Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches have fallen “out of touch” with the main body of Beachy Amish-Mennonites.

 

5.3 Do Beachy Amish-Mennonites speak Pennsylvania Dutch?

Many do, but many do not. Those living in traditionally Old Order Amish areas are more likely to speak Pennsylvania Dutch.

 

5.4 In what sort of setting do Beachy Amish-Mennonites live? Do any live in the city?

Nearly all live on small lots of land (under 20 acres) in a rural setting. In the major Anabaptist settlements, a few may live in a suburb. Very few would consider urban living ideal; even those that live in small towns have strong connections to rural settings. There are a handful of Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches in urban settings, but even then, it has only been because the city has overtaken a once rural area.

 

5.5 What are the backgrounds of Beachy people?

Many can trace back to the Old Order Amish in one to three generations. Some Beachy Amish-Mennonites also have Mennonite or conservative Brethren background. There is also a sizeable minority of people from non-Anabaptist background, and most churches have at least one member of non-Anabaptist background.

 

5.6 What sort of jobs do Beachy Amish-Mennonites have?

Most men work in labor jobs, such as construction crews and woodworking. A minority of Beachy men run a farm, but fewer and fewer are taking up farming. An increasing number of men work desk jobs or in business management. Nearly all jobs, though, are in a conservative Anabaptist context. Few would work for non-Anabaptists. Several do have professional jobs, which is more common among converts.

 

5.7 Are there African Americans or other ethnic minorities in the Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches?

Yes, within the US and Canadian Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches there are some African Americans scattered throughout the churches, as well as several other ethnic minorities including Native American and East Asian. However, most Beachy Amish-Mennonites are of Swiss-German background.

  

5.8 What age do Beachy Amish-Mennonites get married? What are weddings like?

The typical age is from 22 through 27. The young adult culture is alive and well, and this makes the age of marriage later than other plain groups. Wedding services are about an hour long. Preaching and congregational singing is a must, and some include special singing and special entrances by the bride and groom. Weddings do not resemble Old Order Amish weddings, but are more secular.

 

5.9 Would I be able to court or marry a Beachy person?

First, courtships hardly ever occur between a Beachy and a non-Beachy/Mennonite. However, stepping back, why would someone outside this setting be interested in marrying a plain person? Here’s why. There are many singles who are respectable Christians with strong convictions and Godly values. The young ladies are also more traditionally "feminine" than women in secular society and the men more stable and devoted partners than men in society. These stereotypes are appealing. However, this does not mean that they are the only men and women who would make decent spouses, nor does it mean any Beachy young person would make a decent spouse. Each young adult  is his/her own person with his/her own traits, interests, convictions, and view of life. Some even have a bit of resentment for this lifestyle and an attraction to the outside. This individuality needs to be respected and recognized. Women are not married off by fathers. Rather, courtship is requested by a young man after much forethought, and she is free to decide what she will do with his request. If marriage interests dominate an individual's desire to join the Beachy Amish-Mennonite church, then one may wish to re-examine his/her interest in the church. Navigating the numerous cultural nuances may take time to learn, but is often a necessity to having a stable marriage of when the partners have different backgrounds.

 

Affiliation and Constituency

6.1 What is the difference between the Amish and the Mennonites?

Both trace their origins to the Anabaptist movement in the 1500s in Europe. Menno Simons, an avid writer, helped the movement unify. Thus, the people were called Menno-nites because of his influence. The Anabaptist movement in Switzerland divided in the late 1600s when a group of converts wanted to follow the teachings (specifically, the 1632 Dordrecht Confession of Faith) of the Netherlands Mennonite movement, while another group did not want to. Those following the Netherlands movement became Amish, after their leader Jacob Amman.

 

6.2 What is the difference between the Amish and Mennonites today?

Amish, Mennonites, and Swiss Anabaptists migrated to America from the early 1700s to mid 1800s. They went from being persecuted for their beliefs in Europe to being safe in America. Because “the world” was no longer so threatening, some new influences came into their circles, like evangelical practices.

 

Both the Amish and the Mennonites split into conservative and liberal groups in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The conservatives became “Old Order” Mennonites and Amish; they rejected evangelical ideas like Sunday School, church bureaucracy, church colleges, foreign missions, catchy songs, Pietism, and individualism over the community. Later, they also rejected technological innovations like the automobile, but this was not the cause of the original divisions.

 

Some Mennonites chose a moderate path, neither liberal nor Old Order. They stayed plain in dress, but accepted some evangelical ideas. In the 1960s, the moderate group went mainstream and dropped plain dress and other community practices. Many small denominations broke off to stay plain and to have a strong community. These became conservative Mennonites.

 

Among the Amish, the liberal Amish of the late 1800s became “Amish-Mennonites” and in the early 1900s, they merged with moderate and liberal Mennonite groups. Through the 1900s, several groups have broken from the Old Order Amish because they either wanted cars and other technologies, or they wanted evangelical ideas and programs. These  became “Amish-Mennonites,” such as the Beachy Amish-Mennonites.

 

6.3 What are the “Anabaptists”?

Anabaptists are all Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites, and Brethren. In the 1500s, each of these groups were influenced by teachings such as adult baptism, separation of the church from the state for the purity of the state, nonresistance (not fighting or resisting in nonviolent ways), and the importance of church community. “Ana-Baptist” literally means to rebaptize, which is what they did to those adults who wanted a believer’s baptism when they previously had an infant baptism. Anabaptist was the term applied to all of these movements, but each has developed a separate identity and name, usually after an important leader (the names were given by outsiders, not the leader or the church people).

 

6.4 What is an "Amish-Mennonite" group?

An Amish-Mennonite group is one that has broken with the Old Order Amish, but has not joined a Mennonite group. The Beachy Amish-Mennonites are the largest modern Amish-Mennonite affiliation. The other large group is the Conservative Mennonite Conference, which used to be the Conservative Amish-Mennonite Conference, but the group has become mainstream in most beliefs and practices and is no longer conservative or Amish-Mennonite in practice. The Mennonite Christian Fellowship is another Amish-Mennonite group, which is generally more conservative than most Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches. The Tampico Amish-Mennonite, or the "Sleeping Preacher" churches, are also Amish-Mennonite. They descend from the original Amish-Mennonite division from the Old Order Amish in the late 1800s.

 

6.5 Who was "Beachy"?

Moses Beachy was the bishop of an Old Order Amish congregation in Somerset County, PA, in the 1920s. He led part of the congregation to start a new Amish-Mennonite group. The group went by his name, Beachy. Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches do not look to him today as the affiliation's leader or single man of inspiration or a holder of special, unique doctrine or influence, but rather carry the name "Beachy" from what was once a way to distinguish Beachy's Amish from the other Amish in the community.

 

6.6 What is the difference between the Amish and the Beachy Amish-Mennonites?

The Beachy Amish-Mennonites come from the Old Order Amish originally. The Beachy Amish-Mennonites carry on many Amish practices and traditions, but have adopted some modern conveniences and a more rigorous evangelization effort. The Beachy Amish-Mennonites are not as "strict" as the Old Order Amish in practice. However, both groups emphasize love for the congregation and looking out for the brotherhood.

 

6.7 What is the difference between the Mennonites and the Beachy Amish-Mennonites?

Mennonite groups vary, but many of the conservative Mennonite groups share similar practices and beliefs as the Beachy Amish-Mennonites. Beachy Amish-Mennonites feel at home in a Mennonite church service, and likewise Mennonites feel at home in a Beachy Amish-Mennonite church service. They have both embraced evangelical ideas, but have a conservative and plain practice. However, many Mennonite groups are arranged in conferences. This means that the churches all share a similar practice of application. Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches are autonomous are only loosely affiliated.

 

6.8 How many Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches and members are there?

For a table of Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches and membership, please see the General Information page.

 

6.9 What are differences among Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches?

Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches vary a great deal since they are not arranged into conferences. Some Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches are very close to the Amish. They have black vehicles, use German in church services, have conservative, modest dress, and do not allow computers, recorded music, or cameras. Other Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches are becoming increasingly mainstream: there are few dress guidelines for ladies and men, and the men may not even be recognizable as plain. The women still wear cape dresses and head coverings, but the dresses are more fashionable and head coverings smaller than conservative Beachy Amish-Mennonites. The churches may allow internet and radio, and some Beachy young people would have blogs and watch DVDs on the computer. Most Beachy Amish-Mennonite churches are somewhere between these two extremes. However, no Beachy Amish-Mennonite church has yet to allow TV or do away with the head covering, among other practices, and no church would still use buggies or disallow the telephone. Because of the differences, there are several different subgroups of Amish-Mennonite churches, including Maranatha, Ambassadors, Berea, and Midwest Beachy.

Rounded Rectangle: Visit a “Plain” Anabaptist Church like the Beachys
Rounded Rectangle: Frequently Asked Questions
Rounded Rectangle: General Information
Rounded Rectangle: General Library 
and Archives
Rounded Rectangle: Beliefs, Practices, 
and Doctrine
Rounded Rectangle: Institutions and Ministries
Rounded Rectangle: Church Profiles, Maps, and Statistics
Rounded Rectangle: Amish-Mennonites and Other Plain Anabaptists
Rounded Rectangle: About This Website and Site Personnel
Rounded Rectangle: Materials for Beachys (restricted access)
Text Box: The Beachy Amish-Mennonites
Text Box: The Beachy Amish-Mennonites