A Day in My Life: A Visit to the only Amish Meetinghouse

Somerset County in Pennsylvania is the second oldest Amish community in North America. Today, it’s small, only five church districts. Small but fascinating. There are some variations in these churches that are curious to discover: refrigerators are not in the kitchen, but on the back porch (no one knows why). And they are permitted to use tractors in the field. Another distinction is that the only Old Order Amish meeting house is in Somerset County–all other Old Order Amish worship in home church.

Here’s the story, the way I heard it: Years ago, coal miners would appear on Sunday at homes that were hosting church, eager for a free meal. The Amish grew tired of feeding the coal miners. By building a meeting house, that somehow discouraged the free loading coal miners.

Here’s the church! Men enter in one door, women in another.

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Windows are closed with those shutters, but are opened up on church Sundays.

 

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Here’s the “necessary” room.

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Coal stored in between the two “necessary” rooms–used to heat the meetinghouse on cold mornings.

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What have you learned about the Amish that has surprised you?

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About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Comments

  1. Vanessa Johnson says:

    In one way I’m surprised, but yet not surprised, that the men & women enter in separate doors. But then I guess it shouldn’t surprise me since they sit on different sides? Love the pictures! Another thing that surprises me, is that it looks small – in my head, it has to be so big to hold everyone!

  2. Sally says:

    what surprised me ..was that they had a meeting house. Otherwise it looks on the outside similar to Shaker or Quaker perhaps with the separate doors.

  3. Thank you for sharing the pictures, it was really interesting to see one of the meeting places. No it did not surprise me at all. I know that the men sit on one side and the women on the other side. I would also like to thank you for all of your wonderful books, I am reading The Calling right now. You are a very gifted writer. Keep up the good work.

  4. Debbie Rhoades says:

    is the necessary room an outhouse? You know, I could probably deal with most everything involved in living Amish, but not outhouses. I guess I am just spoiled.

  5. Latosha says:

    Even some of those who live more modern or “New” Order, still carry those traditions of men and women having separate study groups. The church fellowship that I use to attend held on to these traditions. I am always learning about the Amish ever since I relocated to Lancaster County, PA.

  6. Peggy says:

    I didn’t know any of the Amish had meeting houses. This is interesting. I love your books! I truly enjoy reading about the Amish.

  7. tink says:

    I wanted to tell you that coming from Somerset PA, this meeting house looks quite familiar. I have a good many Amish friends, what wonderful folks they are!