Where Did the Amish Come From?
Today, I will take you on a brief journey into the origins of the Amish. Where did this interesting group of people, known as the Amish, originate from? Where did they begin?
The Amish, with their distinctive way of life, are a source of fascination for many. These "plain people", as they are often called, have a unique culture that values simplicity, community, and tradition above all else.
To truly understand the Amish way of life, you may need to explore their roots and the historical context in which they originated.
The Amish have their roots in 16th-century Europe, specifically Switzerland and nearby areas.
The Amish faith was greatly influenced by the Anabaptist movement, which was a part of the bigger Protestant Reformation. Anabaptists believed in adult baptism, keeping the church separate from the government, and promoting non-violence. These ideas became vital to the Amish faith.
However, the early Anabaptists faced severe persecution for their faith. Their beliefs went against the established religious and political norms of the time. You can read many of their stories in The Martyr's Mirror (an affiliate link - to a book that's popular in Amish and Mennonite homes).
Because of this persecution, many Anabaptists sought safety in neighboring regions like Germany and the Netherlands. They were looking for a place where they could practice their faith freely and without fear.
Menno Simons was a man of faith who lived in the 16th century in Europe. He was one of the people who did not agree with the official church's ideas.
Menno was originally a Catholic priest, but he began to question some of the church's teachings. He believed in a peaceful way of living and in adult baptism. He thought people should choose to be baptized when they were old enough to understand, rather than as babies.
Because of his beliefs, Menno had to hide and move around a lot to avoid getting caught by the church authorities. But he kept spreading his message and gained followers who agreed with his ideas.
The people who followed Menno Simons became known as "Mennonites". They believed in living simply, helping others, and following the Bible's teachings in their daily lives.
They also believed in peaceful living and didn't want to fight in wars. This made them different from many other groups, and they faced challenges and persecution because of their beliefs. Many Mennonites moved to different countries to find freedom to practice their faith.
Over time, Mennonites spread to different parts of Europe and even to North America. They kept their simple way of life, and their commitment to living peacefully.
Amish Originate With Jakob Amman
It was in the German-speaking regions, particularly in the Palatinate and other parts of what is now modern-day Germany, that the Amish movement began to take shape.
Jakob Ammann, a Swiss Anabaptist bishop, played a significant role in the development of the Amish faith. His teachings and leadership led to a division among the Mennonite Anabaptists, with his followers eventually becoming known as the Amish.
The name "Amish" is a tribute to Jakob Ammann, who was a prominent figure in the movement.
Amish Broke Away From the Mennonites
Over a hundred years after the beginning of the Anabaptist movement, a Mennonite bishop (named Jakob Amman) was concerned that the Mennonite church was becoming too worldly. He wanted to return to a stricter way of life and believed that church discipline was not strict enough.
He and his followers had strong opinions about how the church should be run, and how people should live out their faith. One of the main issues of contention was the practice of excommunication, which is when someone is banned from the church for not following the rules.
Amman believed that excommunication (shunning) should be used more strictly, while the Mennonites had a more lenient approach.
This disagreement over church discipline and how to live a faithful life led to a division in the Anabaptist Mennonite community. Those who agreed with Jakob Amman's stricter ideas followed him and became known as the Amish.
Today, both the Amish and the Mennonites continue to exist as separate communities, each with its unique way of life and religious practices. Having originated from the same religious movement, there are still many similarities. However, their paths separated due to their differing interpretations of how to live out their faith and follow their religious principles.
Amish in America
In the 1700s, many Amish people decided to leave Europe for a new life in North America. They were attracted by the promise of religious freedom and the opportunity to establish their own communities based on their beliefs.
The first Amish immigrants settled in Pennsylvania. From there, they began to spread to other parts of the United States and Canada.
These communities continue to uphold their traditional way of life, horse-and-buggy transportation, and shunning modern conveniences such as electricity, etc.
The Amish have maintained their distinct identity and way of life throughout the centuries, and they continue to practice their faith with unwavering dedication. Their story is a testament to the power of religious conviction and the resilience of a community that values simplicity, tradition, and strong bonds of fellowship.
The Amish hold fast to their traditions. And there is a verse in Thessalonians where Paul talks about keeping the traditions. So they believe that it is Biblical to hold fast to their traditions and not allow too much change.
Many of their traditions don't really make sense. But since their forefathers practiced something, they continue to do things the same way.
A few examples of traditions they have held on to are: holding church services in their homes, baptism by sprinkling, and their slow way of singing in church.
Church Services in the Home
As stated, the Anabaptist forefathers were persecuted for their faith. So they didn't hold their church services in a public place. But rather, they secretly gathered in homes to hold their religious meetings.
The tradition of having church services in the homes was started because of persecution and is still practiced today.
Baptism by Sprinkling
Many of the Anabaptist forefathers were baptized as babies in the Catholic church.
When they left the Catholics, they felt a need to be rebaptized upon their confession of faith in Jesus. But since they were on the run from authorities, they had to hold their meetings in secret.
Therefore, they did not practice baptism by immersion in a body of water. But they baptized by sprinkling. This was a quick and discreet method of baptizing while avoiding getting caught.
Today, the Amish still practice baptism by sprinkling.
Amish Church Singing
As the story goes, when the Anabaptists were in prison for their faith, some of them sang. The guards joined in and started dancing to their singing. Not enjoying the dancing, the Anabaptists began singing at a slower pace, making it difficult for the guards to dance along.
Thus began the tradition of slow singing, as the Amish still do in their church services. (I'm leaving a link here where you can listen to Amish church singing - they sing this song (shloo-vies = slow way) at the start of every church service.)
photo credits to Loius Bruno
In Conclusion, "Where Did the Amish Originate From?"
In conclusion, the Amish people have a rich history that dates back to 16th-century Europe, with their roots in the Anabaptist movement. Their distinctive way of life was influenced by religious persecution and the pursuit of religious freedom.
Their migration to North America in the 18th century allowed them to establish the thriving communities we see today, where their traditions and values continue to be passed down from one generation to the next. The Amish are a living testament to the enduring power of faith and community.
The Amish originate from the Mennonites, and they were all a part of the Anabaptist movement in Europe.
AMAZON DISCLOSURE: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. If you click on the link to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.