Beschluß; Amish; historiography; 1955; reception history; Andy Weaver; Old Order-mainstream; twentieth century


The contemporary diversity of the Amish is well attested by recent literature in the field of Amish studies. However, beyond Leroy Beachy’s Unser Leit, insufficient attention has been given to the question of how this state of affairs came about. The most consequential date in the twentieth century is September 1955, when a Bescluß (statement) that was issued at a churchwide ministers’ meeting ultimately divided the Old Order Amish into two separate, non-communing fellowships. Three important historical details about the meeting merit consideration: the document issued on the last day of the churchwide ministers’ meeting circulates among the Amish in three different forms; the document itself was interpreted differently by attendees; and some of the attendees skipped the final day of the meeting when the official statement was presented by the seven-member bishop committee. After subjecting the extant forms of the ministerial decision to textual analysis, this essay interprets the meaning of the document in light of previous ministerial statements (issued in 1809, 1865, 1913, 1917, 1941, 1946, and 1953) and through its reception history among the Amish down to the present day, to sharpen the historiography of the Amish in North America in the twentieth century. [Abstract by author.]