Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Ordnungs" Church

Two weeks after baptismal services the second annual special preparatory services were held. I had wondered what goes on at those services as far back as I could remember, but now that I was to be a part of it I viewed it with mixed emotions.

Several days earlier Mom had given me a short piece to memorize saying that I agreed with and supported all the doctrines of faith they shared with us and also all the rules that they (The bishop and ministers) decided to make and enforce. That I confessed I was weak and unworthy to partake of communion and if anyone sees something in my life that they are concerned about that they would tell me and I would, with God's help improve my walk in life.

I asked Mom what I should do if I don't agree with all the new rules they want to make and she informed me that a woman can never do anything except agree with what ever the ministers say. Men had the option to disagree but the only thing a woman could do in order not to lie and say they agree is to say that they will be satisfied however the church decides.

I found this to be a little disturbing and wondered why we were supposed to vote on issues if the bishop already controlled how all the women voted.

We packed our lunch to take along and eat at noon since church would last all day.

Once church services were over all the members were asked to remain seated while everyone else was dismissed. Once all the children were outside and the doors to the main church room was closed the bishop rose and started talking. He again shared all the important points from the garden of Eden to when the Israelites finally entered Canaan. It took a long time for him to get through everything and I wondered why it was necessary especially since we had heard all of it earlier that day.

Once he got done with that he said it is now time to work with the church since they have quite a few things that need to be taken care of. To start off his list of things there were some changes made to what would no longer be accepted among farmers and then he said they realize that there are several people who don't have a farm and they want to strongly encourage everyone to not try to have something else as a main source of income. My stomach knotted up a little as I wondered what we were supposed to do with our woodworking shop. I glanced over at Daddy but his face was expressionless as he sat their listening. There were a lot of other things that they had decided would no longer be permitted and then it was time to address the things that concerned the womenfolk. There was something wrong with a few of the coverings that they didn't fit properly, they noticed that there were a few apron belts that were more than an inch wide, and they decided to no longer allow shoes with moc toes. I quickly tucked my feet under the bench where no one could see I was wearing those shoes, and had for every Sunday since I had been old enough to wear slippers.

By the time he got to the end of his long row of don't I felt hopelessly frustrated and irritated and I wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into when I had made all those baptismal vows a few weeks earlier. The bishop continued and said that they expect all these things to be taken care of before communion in two weeks.

It was finally time to vote on the changes and the two ministers got up while the bishop sat down. The one minister went to the men's side of the church while the other one went to the women's side where he bent down so they could whisper their little memorized piece into his ear. It took quite a long time as they made their way to each person and everything in the church house was quiet except for the sound of low whispers and the ministers moving quietly along the rows of people.

As I waited for my turn I tried to decide which was worse. Leaving part of the piece out about how I agreed with everything or lying and saying I agreed. I decided I would not lie and by the time he got to me I hurried and whispered my piece omitting the part where I agreed with all the changes.

On the way home I asked Daddy what we were going to do since we could no longer have a woodworking shop. I was relieved to hear that we would continue woodworking and that even Jesus had been a carpenters son.

I was glad ordnungs church was over and already dreaded the one that would come the next spring.


  1. That must have been a shock to find out that women had no say at all.
    I'm glad your father decided to keep his woodworking shop. his logic sounds completely reasonable.

  2. wow! i'm glad your father decided to stay in the wood working industry! and i loved that he said Jesus' father was also a carpenter.

  3. Oh I can't wait to hear the next part and I love your father's response about woodworking!

    Thanks for sharing your memories!

  4. I, too, loved your father's response and I also liked that you skipped that part in your speech!

  5. Didn't anyone make some chuch confessions? Like riding in a car with an excommunicated former Amish person? Or not wearing a bonnet to go to the county fair? Or maybe drinking a little beer? Or being too roudy at the hymn singing? Ot your hair npot combed just so-so?

  6. Oh me, oh my, did this post ever bring back memories! I had forgotten some of the details, but you provided them in such a rich way that all this came back in a wave of memories -- the repetition of the same sermon we had heard that morning; sitting so long, you really didn't know how much longer you could stand it; the part about humbling yourself to the point of inviting others to criticize you.... Thank goodness the thirty years I've been away have softened some of these memories.

    How brave of you to withhold the part of the script about agreeing! I tried that once and did not get away with it... to have to lie and say yes just about killed me. When I got home from church that day, I asked Mem who I would go to if I disagreed with what the preachers did (this was my father making a public confession). I said, "If I were married, I know I could ask my husband, but who am I supposed to go to if I disagree?" She replied that it would be my father. I remember getting hysterical saying, "So I had no choice but to say yes, even though it was a lie!" Mem's response was typical, "Oh Saloma, you are just making things harder on yourself." In other words, "du sollst uff gevva." She didn't seem to realize I couldn't give in.

    Reading your post reminds me of how some of us were just not meant to be Amish. They don't seem to realize they are better off without us, because we could not follow without question, something that is required if one wants to succeed as a "good" Amish person.

    Thank you for reminding me of the details, which reminds me once again of the reasons why I left.

    I look forward to your next post...

  7. wow, I could not imagine, although I have gone to IFB type churches where if you vote no in a business meeting the next church service will be on how a church needs unity and it normally starts off with a "now the Lord gave this to me (thus avoiding anyone being able to talk to them about the problems and twisted scripture that always shows up in the message) Then they will say "If a dog yelps it means he was hit with the stone so if this hurts you it means you needed this message.

    Oh how manipulative some people can be.

    I look forward to reading more of you blog

    In HIS care,

  8. What a great response from your father!

    Looking forward to the next part!


  9. Mmmm, very similar to the most conservative of the consvtv. Mennonite churches. Only you kind of have a clue of what's coming because a couple weeks prior, rumors will start flying about who is dissatisfied about what and any changes they want to make. There are rarely surprises. Good for your Daed!

  10. wow....can't wait for the story to continue...your posts always make me think and I love that!

  11. I loved your daddy's response! There is freedom in Jesus!

    Ya'll have a terrifically blessed Thrusday!!

  12. Interesting post. I have visted an Amish church with an
    Amish friend. The service was rather long, but I sure loved the meal and fellowship and games, sewing and such that followed.

  13. your blog is fascinating.
    I just stumbled upon it quite by accident and read several posts.
    the clock on the side bar is beautiful. Really beautiful. I could only wish I could own it.


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