Goshen College lies between two of the most prominent Amish settlements in the mid-west:
Skirted on the east by the third largest Amish settlement in America, Goshen students rub shoulders with this unique otherworldly community with relative ease and comfort. Highlighted by the newly-completed Shipshewana visitor center, Menno Hof, the community attracts more than a million visitors each year.
Smaller in numbers and territorial size is the Amish community southwest of the college. It is equally rich in Amish life and culture and includes the converted farmstead, Amish Acres, sporting a new red round barn-theatre that gives daily performances of "Plain & Fancy," and features a popular restaurant along with entertainment.
The Amish broke away from the Mennonites nearly 300 years ago when differences arose among Anabaptist leaders in Switzerland and Alsace. Seeking a stricter lifestyle including the Streng Meidung, or shunning, which includes the social avoidance of erring church members. Tensions ran high and eventually in 1693, a complete split occurred. Forty years later, many Amish responded to William Penn's invitation to come to America and settle the land. No Amish now remain in Europe. Currently there are approximately 145,000 Amish men, women and children living in 22 states in the United States and in Ontario, Canada. There are 220 Amish settlements accommodating over 900 geographically determined church districts.
Persistence of tradition and slowness to modernize have characterized the Amish as they have steadily sought to carve out their lifestyle which is a culture apart from the world. Even at the dawn of the 21st century, Amish are characterized as humble folk--hard working, neighborly, otherworldly, agrarian, God-fearing, ethnically homogeneous--who live the simple life and live it well.
Searching for general characteristics that encompass all Old Order Amish groups even in their cultural and religious variations, the following seem dominent:
The Mennonite Historical Library located on the campus of Goshen College contains approximately 45,000 volumes, an unrivaled collection of Anabaptistica and Mennonitica that includes substantial source materials on the Amish, on family genealogies, local history, and Pennsylvania Dutch culture.
Seniors for Peace, a site offering concepts of peace and justice as they apply to contemporary times. Seniors for Peace projects a perspective of people of mature years and is an international and inter-faith organization.
Amish Recipes.net, "The Best Collection Of Amish Recipes" Offering a broad range of recipes from Amish to Pennsylvania Dutch traditions.
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