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.
Windows are closed with those shutters, but are opened up on church Sundays.
Here’s the “necessary” room.
Coal stored in between the two “necessary” rooms–used to heat the meetinghouse on cold mornings.
What have you learned about the Amish that has surprised you?