The Amish people are very reclusive and unique in their religious practices. Many people tend to avoid using many amenities that modern society provides. They believe this is the best method to ensure everyone is self-sufficient and, whenever possible, preserves family life and face-to-face talks.
Because of this, there are many different types of Amish. Each type has a specific set of rules and regulations governing their lives. Some groups are more accepting than others, while some have stricter guidelines regarding technology and modern conveniences.
The Amish Are Not All the Same
To the untrained eye, Amish individuals may all appear to be the same. However, different Amish churches and villages might be quite distinct. Some Amish choose conservative clothes, such as larger hat brims and plainer colors. Still, blouses and dresses in more progressive areas can be fashioned in brilliant colors, such as pink and yellow. The style of women's prayer shawls varies in each community, as does the length of men's beards.
Another apparent difference is the use of Amish buggies. This is most visible in the color of the buggies, which can range from black to gray to white, with certain localities adopting brown and even bright yellow carriages. The technology utilized on the buggy itself can also vary, with many using bright battery-powered lights and the most conservative using a single oil lamp hung on one side of the carriage.
The Main Groups Of Amish
Affiliation is one way to classify the Amish. According to the writers of The Amish, affiliations are "loose federations of like-minded Amish congregations." Today, there are over 40 Amish associations and countless more independent congregations. Here are some of the most important associations and groups:
Old Order Amish
The Old Order Amish are the main Amish who have opposed changes in society and church activities. A series of conferences held from 1862 to 1878 led to a clearer division between the conservatives, who later became known as "Old Order Amish," and the progressives, who then identified themselves as "Amish Mennonites."
The Old Order Amish are distinguishable from other Amish groups by their rigorous devotion to prohibiting automobile ownership and their traditional attire. Many outsiders associate the term "Amish" with the Old Order Amish.
New Order Amish
The New Order Amish are among the more technologically advanced, yet in dress, use of horse-and-buggy, and overall lifestyle, they closely resemble the related Old Order sects. New Order Amish express their Amish Christian religion in a more evangelical and mission-minded manner, proclaiming trust in assurance of salvation.
Some New Order Amish allow electricity in the home, and some organizations allow telephones. New Order Amish may be more tolerant of shunning and more accepting of photography than lower-order communities.
Beachy Amish Mennonite
Despite being dubbed "Amish," the Beachy Amish lack some traditional Amish characteristics, such as horse and buggy transportation, worship in private houses, and preserving the German language (except Old Beachy Amish). They are related to the Amish Mennonites, with whom they share many characteristics.
The Beachy Amish Mennonite constituency is an informal confederation of Anabaptist congregations with no controlling authority. Because of the flexible organization, all Beachy congregations share a few common qualities. Adherence to the Dordrecht Confession of Faith and varied degrees of Anabaptist practice, such as nonresistance, separation from the state, and adult baptism, are some commonalities.
Affiliations With The Amish
It is impossible to determine the precise number of affiliations because fellowship terminology might change, and Amish who appear to be similar in practice may not fellowship with one another.
The Renno Amish have black-topped buggies, the Byler Amish have yellow tops, and the Nebraska Amish have white tops in the Amish village of Big Valley, Pennsylvania. However, even among the Nebraska Amish, there are differences, with four or five different groupings.
The Amish colony in Holmes County, Ohio, is thought to have eleven unique connections. Some are quite similar, such as three Swartzentruber Amish branches, all of whom claim to be the actual Swartzentruber Amish (and overall Amish, for that matter). There is a significant difference between others, such as the Swartzentruber affiliations and the Old Order or New Order affiliations, which are far more progressive in terms of technology adopted and even ideology.
While the Amish know their peculiarities, the general population is not. When problems emerge, this might lead to confusion and other complications. Non-Amish who are accustomed to the ways of one Amish community may be perplexed when they realize that Amish in another location conduct things differently. Issues over construction codes (some Amish do not allow smoke alarms, for example), buggy safety triangles, and outhouses are examples of potential conflicts.
The worldview of an Amish church determines who that church associates with. Groups with enough things in common might be said to be in fellowship with one another, indicating they "have a spiritual affinity that permits them to collaborate on some level." In practice, this can include allowing preacher exchanges as well as intermarriage. Those who are close in some areas but have certain differences, such as conflicts over critical pieces of technology, may be barred from having so-called complete fellowship, instead opting for a looser partial fellowship connection.
Amish Have Something In Common
Despite their differences, people from various backgrounds collaborate in various ways, including coworkers, community events, and mediating occasional disagreements and concerns with the government. Home worship, a nonresistance approach, untrained ministry chosen from the male lay members, twice-yearly communion ceremony, social shunning, and other traditions and beliefs are shared by all Amish.
These diverse components of daily living might manifest themselves in various ways, but Amish of all stripes practice them in some form or another. Most significantly, all Amish people share a common faith in Jesus Christ, guiding their everyday lives.
The Amish are fascinating people, and their religious practices are unique worldwide. Their beliefs and customs have evolved, but they're still true to their core values of simplicity and nonconformity.
As a result, answering the question "how many different kinds of Amish are there?" is difficult. All Amish under the Old Order umbrella (which includes Amish manifestations ranging from the highly conservative Swartzentruber and Nebraska Amish groups to the progressive New Order Amish) share shared beliefs in nonresistance, foot washing, adult baptism, and other practices.
Answering this topic will necessitate investigating the various Amish connections, even down to the level of specific church districts. And, because Amish society is changing, the answer to this issue will likely vary.