Two Cultures Waiting for a Green Light
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, November 2009. Amish country.
The various Amish (pronounced /ˈɑːmɪʃ/, AR-mish) or Amish Mennonite church fellowships are Christian religious denominations that form a very traditional subgrouping of Mennonite churches. They are best known for their simple living, plain dress, and resistance to the adoption of many modern conveniences. The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693. The leader of the schismatic faction was an Anabaptist leader named Jakob Ammann. Those who followed Ammann became known as Amish. In the early 18th century, many Amish Mennonites emigrated to Pennsylvania for a variety of reasons. Today, the most traditional descendants of these Amish Mennonites continue to speak Pennsylvania German (more often referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch). There are also Old Order Amish communities, especially in the American state of Indiana, where a dialect of Swiss German predominates. Over the years, there have been numerous divisions among the Amish churches. The 'Old Order' Amish, an ultra-conservative faction that withdrew from fellowship with the wider body of Amish Mennonites in the 1860s, are those that have most emphasized traditional practices and beliefs. As of 2000, over 165,000 Old Order Amish live in Canada and the United States. A new study, produced in 2008, suggests their numbers have increased to 227,000'
There are Old Order communities in 27 American states and the Canadian province of Ontario; Ohio has the largest population (55,000), followed by Pennsylvania (51,000) and Indiana (38,000). The largest Amish settlements are in Holmes County in central Ohio, Lancaster County in south-central Pennsylvania, and Elkhart and LaGrange counties in northeast Indiana. Most Amish west of the Mississippi River live in northern Missouri, eastern Iowa, and Southeast Minnesota. The largest community west of the Mississippi is near Kalona, Iowa. Because of rapid population growth in Amish communities, new settlements are formed to obtain sufficient farmland. Other reasons for new settlements include locating in isolated areas that support their lifestyle, moving to areas with cultures conducive to their way of life, maintaining proximity to family or other Amish groups, and sometimes to resolve church or leadership conflicts.
In 2000, approximately 165,620 Old Order Amish resided in the United States, of which 73,609 were church members. The Amish are among the fastest-growing populations in the world, with an average of 6.8 children per family.
In Lancaster County, the Amish and the non-Amish culture meet on a regular basis. Tourists supply the Amish community with a significant part of their economy.
I'm going back to photograph and learn more.