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The difference between Amish and Mennonite
This blog post discusses the key differences between Amish and Mennonite beliefs and practices. We hope to provide clarity on the subject. Learn More.
Amish Or Mennonite?
For those who did not grow up in or around plain communities, the different sects of Amish and Mennonite groups can be extremely confusing. At Amish Country Gazebos, we are often asked the question, “What’s the difference between the Amish and the Mennonites?”
The Amish and Mennonites both originated from the Anabaptist movement (those who rejected infant baptism) in Europe. In 1693, a Swiss Anabaptist leader named Jacob Ammann expressed his concern that the church was conforming too much to the world, and was failing to practice what he believed was the proper form of Biblical church discipline, shunning. Those who followed Ammann formed what would become the Amish church.
In the centuries that followed, Amish communities became known for their plain dress, mustache-less beards, head coverings, buggies, and simple lifestyle. Many Mennonite communities however, engage in some of these same practices. So how can you tell the difference?
Is a plain family Amish or Mennonite? Mennonite men may or may not have a beard, straw hat, or suspenders. In fact, many Mennonite men look no different from any other “English” man walking down the street. That said, they could also look almost exactly like the Amish fellas you’ve seen in pictures and on Lancaster County postcards! This is because there are a vast array of Mennonite sects, with different communities having different rules regarding their appearance and interaction with the world.
One fail-safe indicator in determining whether a family is Amish or Mennonite is to look at their method of transportation. Unlike the Amish, Mennonites are not prohibited from using motorized vehicles. In addition, Mennonites are also allowed to use electricity and telephones in their homes.
When it comes to their beliefs, the Amish and Mennonite faiths are very similar. The differences lie mainly in the outward practice of those beliefs. But foundational to both groups is their core commitment to faith, family, and community. In plain communities, man may look at the outward appearance, but for them, it is truly all about the heart.
Mennonite vs. Amish Differences
What's the difference between the Mennonites and the Amish? They may look the same, but there’s a difference!
Posted: 04/11/2022 | by Sarah
The Difference Between Amish and Mennonite
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They may look the same, but there’s a difference!
Many people are familiar with two of the prominent religious groups in Lancaster, PA- the Amish and the Mennonite, but do you know what makes them different? While they have many similarities and stem from the same branch of religion they are not the same. Read on and learn about these two groups and the unique qualities they contribute to the culture of Lancaster County.
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Mennonite vs. Amish Similarities
Both groups actually stem from the same Christian movement during the European Protestant Reformation. These Christians were called Anabaptists and they sought to return to a simplicity of faith and practice based on the Bible. The Anabaptists also stressed the importance that belief must result in practice, and that idea still holds true today for both the Amish and Mennonite communities.
Mennonite vs. Amish Differences
The split between the two groups started with a gentleman named Jacob Amann who believed that sinning resulting in excommunication should result in a more serious punishment (now known as “shunning”) than what the Mennonite community currently followed. Amann’s beliefs attracted a large group of followers who came to be known as the Amish.
Today, the greatest differences between the Amish and Mennonites stem mainly from practices rather than beliefs. Amish groups tend to shy away from technology and involvement with the greater world, by dressing “plain” and using scooters and buggies for transportation. The Mennonites have embraced some of the world’s technologies and stress the importance of missionary work, helping to spread their faith to over fifty countries around the world.
Mind you, there is much more to the history and beliefs of the Mennonite and Amish than a couple of sentences and there are also exceptions to every rule. So, if you are in Lancaster and are curious to learn more about these two great cultures, stop by the Mennonite Life Visitors Center and take a tour of their life-sized Tabernacle Reproduction or enjoy one of their many informative movies and documentaries.
Learn more about Amish culture here.
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What's the difference between Amish and Mennonites
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What's the difference between Amish and Mennonites
Amish 101 Marcus Yoder 204617
As with any religious group, there are varying expressions of Anabaptism, of which the Amish and Mennonites are most prominent. To those outside the subculture looking in, this is often confusing. In the greater Holmes County community there are as many as 10 different groups of Amish that have distinct elements that define them within the Amish continuum. It would take much more than one column to define those distinctions and the various interrelated elements of the Amish world. The same is true of Mennonites, who may range from those who still drive horses and carriages to those who are totally assimilated in American culture.
While there are anomalies in any group, there are several features that are common to both groups. First is the idea that at its essence Christianity is about discipleship and a willingness to follow Christ at any cost. Second is the common idea that nonresistance or pacifism is the answer to conflict, and most Amish and Mennonites refuse service in the military. Instead, during times when the draft was in use, they served as conscientious objectors and gave to the world in meaningful ways without the use of force. These two ideas are the common binding factors in Anabaptism regardless of whether one is Amish or Mennonite.
How then can a visitor tell whether the person they meet is Amish or Mennonite? A helpful way to think about this is that all Amish have eschewed the ownership of automobiles as their primary form of locomotion. The Amish have retained the practice of some form of horse-drawn vehicle. This is not meant to be quaint. Rather it is a means to foster a sense of community where one connects to the people and the community within a reasonable radius of travel. While there are a few small groups of Mennonites that do not own automobiles, there are none in the Holmes County community that do not permit ownership of the automobile. There are many Mennonites who wear distinctive garb and beards without mustaches as do the Amish, so in this community, automobile ownership is one of the ways one can define the two groups.
Most Mennonites meet for their church services in meeting houses. The Amish, however, retain the practice of meeting in their homes, shops or barns for their Sunday services. Most Amish still use the German or the common dialect of German, Pennsylvania Dutch, as the primary language of the church services. Most Mennonites use English, and some of their services use modern practices such as worship teams and audiovisual tools in their services.
Each family in an Amish church is expected to take a turn in hosting the service at their home. With this arrangement and their nonuse of automobiles, this limits the size to about 30 households in each “district,” all of which live in near proximity to each other. When a district becomes too large, they will often choose a geographical dividing line such as a creek or road and divide the district, the two becoming two distinct groups that share a common belief but now meet in two places. Most Mennonites do not practice this form of replication and instead focus on missions or outreach, and some grow to large sizes similar to the Protestant model of church growth.
If you wish to learn more about the differences between the Amish and Mennonites, plan a visit to the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center. The center offers guided tours of “Behalt,” a 10-foot-265-foot cyclorama oil-on-canvas painting that illustrates the heritage of the Amish and Mennonite people from their Anabaptist beginnings in Zurich, Switzerland, to the present day. Behalt means “to keep” or “remember.”The Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center is open Monday through Saturday from November through March from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer months. It is located near Berlin in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country at 5798 County Road 77, Millersburg. Call 330-893-3192 or visit their website at www.behalt.com for more information.