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Becoming Amish

By Catie Noyes • Editor Published: March 3, 2014 12:00 AM
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With each story I write about the Amish, the interest of the "English" (Amish term for non-Amish people) seems to be peeked. I can't tell you the number of letters, emails and now Facebook messages that continue to roll in asking how a person can become Amish.

A trip to the peaceful countryside and the slower pace of the Amish in general can be enticing and refreshing after dealing with your own non-stop, hectic lifestyle. Tossing your phone aside and breathing in the fresh air you think to yourself, "I could do this. I can embrace the simple life, and I can become Amish. But how?"

The article "So you think you want to become Amish," first appeared in the Amish Heartland in 2007 and laid out a series of steps given by a New Order Amish man on becoming Amish for the curious souls. After reviewing these steps with a volunteer and Old Order Amish man at the Amish Mennonite and Heritage Center in Berlin, the steps still hold true for those interested in pursuing the Amish faith today.

1. First, come live in an Amish area for a year. You can live by yourself or with an Amish family. Some Amish families will take in such guests; some won't. One way of finding an Amish family is by placing an ad in the Amish Newspaper, The Budget, 330-852-4634, www.thebudgetnewspaper.com.

2. Attend church services ... every Sunday. You will need an Amish go-between to introduce you to the church.

3. Find a job where you will be working with the Amish. This will help you understand their work ethics and get to know their culture better.

4. Learn German. You will have to learn to speak Pennsylvania Dutch, the language usually spoken in Amish homes (Amish children learn Dutch as their first language; they don't learn English until they go to school).

5. After one year, if you still think you wish to become Amish, there will be a period when you are instructed in the ways of the church. You will learn their ordinances.

6. Then, the church will vote on whether to take you in. If the vote is affirmative, you will become a full member of the Amish church, and finally, you are Amish. Your old ways are gone for good.

These steps most accurately reflect the New Order Amish community. Slight variances in these steps may take place from community to community and will most likely be stricter for Old Order groups like the Swartzentruber Amish - the most conservative of the Amish communities.

One of the hardest obstacles people face making the switch from English to Amish is the mode of transportation. Suddenly that 10 minute trip to the grocery store becomes a 45 minute trip at speeds topping out at 10 mph. It's the dead of summer and with sweat dripping down your face, you reach out for a non-existent button to flip on the air conditioning. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to catch a breeze when the buggy picks up speed again.

Technology is not non-existent in the Amish community, but the modern conveniences we "Englishers" enjoy today are limited. You may be thinking, "I'm tired of this smartphone taking over my life anyways - I would be better off without it." Try setting that phone/tablet/laptop/etc. aside for a day or two and see how easy it is to resist the urge to pick it back up and catch up on the latest social media gossip or news and sports action.

I'm not trying to discourage your dreams of becoming Amish, but it is not as easy as just waking up one morning and deciding you've had enough of your current life. A quote from an Amish author appeared in the Small Farm Journal (exact date is unknown) as a response to many letters from people wanting to become Amish. The quote read as follows:

If you admire our faith, strengthen yours. If you admire our sense of commitment, deepen yours. If you admire our community spirit, build your own. If you admire the simple life, cut back. If you admire deep character and enduring values, live them yourself.

Consider adapting some Amish ways into your own lifestyle before completely abandoning your own. It may be exactly what you need, but the choice is ultimately up to you.


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Myke Mar 29, 2014 10:16 AM

I live in Victoria , Australia. I have been interested in the Amish faith, community togetherness, and just the pace of life way of life  working for each other for as long as I can remember. I have always been impressed with the way you take life and ignore the modern way of life. I live a very simple life with few perks and would very much to leadmy future life in a  working Amish community. I am single, fit  and have no ties or family here to tie me down andam  free to start a new life Not afraid of hard work and have some farming experience working with catle and sheep. dogs. etc.,        

As the Amish are not here in Australia, I am prepared to come to USA  or Canada to persue my keen desire to hopefully join in as a member of the Amish faith and would be grartful if you would put me in touch with a Amish family to enable me to learn more of your regilious beliefs and become a full member of a local community. I could organize myself to come over in your summer or fall (harvest) ....

Are there any books that you can suggest I read? there is nothing here on about the Amish. Your help would be appreciated also which Bible is followed by the Amish? Would be good to be able to purchase one if that's at all possible.i

Look forward to hearing back and get myself on the new road. Would apprecaite any assistance in starting my new Amish community life.

Sincerely,

Michael (Myke) Curtin, PO Box 133, Hampton, VIctoria 3188, Australia. Friend's Email: