Monday, April 28, 2014

X ~ eXcommunicate

In the Amish church if someone sins, or doesn't adhere to the ordnung they will be required to make a confession. There are several levels of confessions, first time offenders usually get the mildest form, repeat offenders have harsher consequences including excommunication.

In the event that the ministry decides somebody needs to be punished by excommunication they will ask members to remain seated after church while all non members are dismissed. The sinner is called out by name and his sin publicly announced. He is then asked to leave the room while everyone votes whether or not they agree that he should be excommunicated. The two ministers walk around the room pausing in front of each member so they can whisper their vote into his ear.  Choices were:
  • Yes, I agree. God's blessings wished.
  • No, I don't agree.
  • Leaving the decision up to the church. God's blessings wished.
(Voting no is a huge no no, unless you don't mind getting into trouble too)

After all the votes have been taken the ministers return to their seats and announce what the votes had been, and the offender is asked to come back inside where he sits in front of the ministers. The bishop then tells him that the church agreed to his punishment, reads 1 Corinthians 5, and then proceeds to give him over to Satan. He is then required to leave the room immediately, while the bishop talks a little more about the seriousness of what just occurred.

During the next six weeks the excommunicated person can not eat with anyone, no one is allowed to take anything from his hand, or do any business with him. They are encouraged to be kind to him though, they will fill his plate with food and serve him, he can't sit at the same table as the rest of his family, but a few inches away where he can still be included in conversation.

After those six weeks are over he is reinstated into the church, if proper repentance is evident. Most times it is, because nothing is as terrifying as the thought of dying during that time and being lost forever.

If someone leaves the Amish they excommunicate them. For most Amish churches that means unless they return to the Amish church there is no hope for them.

The community we lived in when we left was a little different, they remove the excommunication if the ex-Amish join a church they somewhat approve of. We do not believe they have power to give our soul to Satan, and never worried about what would happen if we died, but after four years we decided to move to the church they okayed, for family reasons. We are no longer excommunicated, which makes it ever so much nicer when we visit our Amish families.

24 comments:

  1. Good morning to you,
    Gosh, couldn't wait to see what the X was going to be .... Soooo disturbing to me, and so strange that in some churches it is MAN that has so much power, and the decisions that they are able to make. I'm sure it happens in a lot of different churches to certain degrees all the time. I am just so blessed to know my Lord and Savior personally, and, leave it to HIM and Him alone to confess my sins, at times break down, and HIM alone can lift me up to levels know man could ever do !! Thank God for a loving, forgiving, ever gracious Father in heaven. God is GOOD, and we are blessed.
    Thank you again for my lesson today, and wishing you a wonderfully, blessed SPRING day, where everything is renewed....... Hugs ~Tanza~ xo

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    1. It is so good to be able to rest in Jesus! Hope you have a very blessed day as well.

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  2. I wondered too, what X would be.
    This has always seemed so hard to me, that people should be encouraged to cut out a family member. God's way is to forgive, isn't it?

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    1. They think they're honoring God by being willing to give up family, besides that, they are afraid of the "strange" belief of those who leave, acting as if it were something contagious that they want to make sure not to "catch".

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  3. If your old community approves of a church that is not Amish, maybe the Lord is working a work in their hearts that their doctrine is not sound. Wishful thinking? I pray that the Holy Spirit will open the rest of your family's heart to see the Truth and they'll join you. May God continue to bless you! You are so strong!!

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    1. Somewhat wishful thinking.

      I too pray that our families eyes can be opened to see the truth.

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  4. Jesus said in Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I am come not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."

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    1. That verse is in reference to following Jesus, meaning that many people will have to leave their family (mothers, fathers, ect...) and follow Jesus.

      The Bible is clear on forgiveness (that we should show others AND that we all receive through Gods gift of his Son, Jesus). Sadly, many Amish do not realise that their sin is forgiven when Jesus died on the cross. The Bible is clear that all sins are the same - looking at someone with hate is the same as killing someone (though in Mary Ann's post Amish think that one sin is worse then the other).

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    2. Yes, the Amish believe that salvation is under the umbrella of the Amish church, when you leave the church, you are headed for hell. Our sins are forgiven when we put our faith in the finished work of Christ Jesus. All sin will end up in hell, we can either put them on Jesus, who already died for every sin we did or will do, or we can bring them to hell ourselves.

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  5. Thank you far sharing again Mary Ann. This is the biggest part of Amish beliefs that I struggle with. So much is good-the fellowship, taking care of the elderly, etc. but I couldn't see the excumunication part. Only God can give you over to Satan. I'm so happy to know Jesus personally and that he's already taken care of my sins if I just turn to him.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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    1. It is nice to no longer live in fear, and now be able to rest in Christ's righteousness.

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  6. I'm so happy to have found you. I found this so interesting and wish I had found you earlier in the A-Z. I'll have to look back at your earlier posts. Thank you for sharing so openly about your journey. Hugs to you.

    Elsie
    AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. You're welcome to read as many of my previous posts as you like.

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  7. Thank you for sharing. I'm sure it was a very difficult decision and a hard time for you. God bless you and your family.

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    1. It wasn't the easiest decision we ever made, but certainly one of the best.

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  8. Happy Monday, Mary Ann!! I have a question.....What is the difference between "excommunication" and "shunning" or are they one-and-the-same?

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    1. They tie in together. Being excommunicated (given over to Satan) requires the church to shun you.

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  9. Hi Mary Ann,
    Just curious, I was just wondering, are you allowed to go to your parents home, brothers, other relatives in that community to ever visit, or, is that just something you aren't able to do ... can they leave and visit you, or, is that wrong as well?! How is it that you communicate with your loved ones that are still living in that community. I just wasn't sure IF that is permissible. So many things to think about. Thank you again for being so informative xo

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    1. We can go visit my family, and several years ago my Mom came to visit for two days. LV's family is much more open to having us visit or at least it feels that way since they don't spend the first few hours of our visit preaching to us.

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  10. I am wondering what kind/denomination of church they somewhat approve of?

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    1. Churches that still practice feet washing.

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  11. Hmm, interesting! I would have never guessed that one. I'll have to let our Baptist preacher in on that little tip and then ya'll could come to our church. Haha! :) I have actually seen that done a few times in all my years of going to Baptist churches, but it wasn't a regular tradition. More like a one time demonstration in humility.

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Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I love hearing your thoughts.