Fascinating Fact Friday – The Amish and the Importance of Worship

Hello, AmishReaders! This week’s new entry from A Pocket Guide to Amish Life by Mindy Starns Clark will be sure to give your Friday a boost!

The Amish and the Importance of Worship

Amish worship services are usually held every other Sunday and rotate among the homes in a district. If a house is not large enough to accommodate the entire congregation, a service may be held in a barn, a basement, or a large shop. Each Amish family hosts the service about once a year, depending on the size of the district. For congregational seating, the district provides hard, wooden-backed benches that are delivered to the host home the day before on a special wagon that has been designed for just that purpose.

In the service, which lasts about three hours, the congregation is usually divided by gender and age. Very young child sit with a parent. From the youngest to the oldest, everyone is expected to sit still and pay attention despite several challenges: the length of service; the use of the less-familiar High German in the songs, prayers, and readings; the hard wooden benches; and any seasonal discomfort, such as summer heat or winter chill.

Old Order worship services generally open with a hymn sung slowly, in unison, without instruments, in High German. As the congregation sings, the bishop and ministers gather in a different room and decide who will preach the opening sermon and who will preach the main sermon. Besides congregational singing, services feature Scripture reading in High German, silent prayer, and spoken prayer read from a prayer book, also in High German.

The opening sermon, given in the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect without the aid of any notes, lasts 20 to 30 minutes. This is following by the main sermon, which lasts an hour or more and is also given extemporaneously.

When the main sermon is over, other ministers may add input or correction as they feel led. In general, services avoid formal theology, instead focusing on practical applications of obedience, humility, faith, community and simplicity.

No work is done on Sundays except that which is absolutely necessary, such as the care and feeding of the animals.

The value and importance in which worship is treated is a key aspect of Amish life.

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