Guaimaca, Honduras, Amish settlement; Aylmer, ON, Amish settlement; Nappanee, IN, Amish settlement; Pike County, OH, Amish settlement; Peter Stoll; evangelical mission; New Order Amish; adoption; agricultural development; Amish mission movement; pure church movement
For their several-hundred years of successfully maintaining Amish settlements in North America, for what reason would a group of families—largely from Nappanee, IN, and Aylmer, ON—want to start a settlement in Honduras? This account traces the genesis of this Latin American settlement to the mid-century restlessness among Old Order Amish for religious and moral reform. The account especially follows families from Daviess County, IN, who, after failed settlement attempts in Michigan and Ohio, helped found Aylmer, ON, a successful revisionist Amish settlement. From there, Peter Stoll, one of the Aylmer founders, desired to move to Honduras for two reasons: (1) to provide an Old Order-style mission to people in a developing country, and (2) to escape the social and political changes of North America weighing on the Amish church. An Old Order idea of mission like Stoll’s is to match the specific, nuanced practices of one’s church with specific needs of another people, then move among the people and live out an alternative. Such a model reinforces the church’s distinct practices. This contrasts with evangelical mission, which prioritizes saving souls over all else, including cumbersome “cultural” practices. Peter Stoll’s clan was joined by estranged families from Nappanee. These eventually pushed for an evangelical outlook on mission and a lowering of Amish church requirements, solidifying among Peter’s children a commitment to Old Order ideas—after years of grappling with the instability of reforming it—and a commitment to the Aylmer settlement, to which they returned.
An expression of gratitude is due first to the three authors who lived in Honduras and unveiled much of their experiences during that time in print: Joseph Stoll, Monroe Hochstetler, and Jerry Eicher. Much appreciation is also expressed to the Heritage Historical Library for providing access to years of materials pertaining to the Honduras Amish settlement.
Anderson, Cory, and Jennifer Anderson. 2016. "The Amish Settlement in Honduras, 1968-1978: A (Half) Failed Attempt to Develop an Amish Understanding of Mission." Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 4(1):1-50.