Friday, June 17, 2011

The Amish

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The AMISH, the MENNONITES,


and the PLAIN PEOPLE





Who are the Amish? Are they the same as the Pennsylvania Dutch?


Order Custom The Amish paper


The Amish are a religious group who live in settlements in states and Ontario, Canada. The oldest group of Old Order Amish, about 16-18,000 people live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Amish stress humility, family and community, and separation from the world.


Although Lancaster Amish are Pennsylvania Dutch, all Pennsylvania Dutch are not Amish. The Pennsylvania Dutch are natives of Central Pennsylvania, particularly Lancaster and its surrounding counties. Unlike the Amish, they are not all one religion. Instead, their common bond is a mainly German background (Pennsylvania Dutch is actually Pennsylvania Deutsch, or German). They also have Welsh, English, Scottish, Swiss, and French ancestry.





What is the history of the Amish?


The Amish have their roots in the Mennonite community. Both were part of the early Anabaptist movement in Europe, which took place at the time of the Reformation. The Anabaptists believed that only adults who had confessed their faith should be baptized, and that they should remain separate from the larger society. Many early Anabaptists were put to death as heretics by both Catholics and Protestants, and many others fled to the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany. Here began the Amish tradition of farming and holding their worship services in homes rather than churches.


In 156, a young Catholic priest from Holland named Menno Simons joined the Anabaptist movement. His writings and leadership united many of the Anabaptist groups, who were nicknamed Mennonites. In 16, a Swiss bishop named Jacob Amman broke from the Mennonite church. His followers were called the Amish. Although the two groups have split several times, the Amish and Mennonite churches still share the same beliefs concerning baptism, non-resistance, and basic Bible doctrines. They differ in matters of dress, technology, language, form of worship, and interpretation of the Bible.


The Amish and Mennonites both settled in Pennsylvania as part of William Penns holy experiment of religious tolerance. The first sizable group of Amish arrived in Lancaster County in the 170s or 170s.








The Amish seem stuck in history. Why dont they accept modern ideas and innovations?


Although the Amish look like they stepped out of the rural nineteenth century, in fact they do change. Their lives move more slowly than ours, but they definitely are not stuck anywhere. They choose to examine change carefully before they accept it. If the new idea or gadget does not assist in keeping their lives simple and their families together, they probably will reject it. Each church district decides for itself what it will and will not accept; there is no single governing body for the entire Old Order population, but all follow a literal interpretation of the Bible and an unwritten set of rules called the Ordnung.


Old Order groups all drive horses and buggies rather than cars, do not have electricity in their homes, and send their children to private, one-room schoolhouses. Children attend only through the eighth grade. After that, they work on their familys farm or business until they marry. The Amish feel that their children do not need more formal education than this. Although they pay school taxes, the Amish have fought to keep their children out of public schools. In 17, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark unanimous decision which exempted the Old Order Amish and related groups from state compulsory attendance laws beyond the eighth grade. Many Mennonites and progressive Amish do attend high school and even college.





Do they speak English?


Most Amish are trilingual. They speak a dialect of German called Pennsylvania Dutch at home; they use High German at their worship services; and they learn English at school. They speak English when they deal with anyone who is not Amish. They pronounce Amish with a broad a (Ah-mish).


The Amish are a private people who believe God has kept them together despite pressure to change from the modern world. They are not perfect, but they are a strong example of a community that supports and cares for its members. They are a people apart; they are also a people together.








Why do they dress that way?


Old Order Amish women and girls wear modest dresses made from solid-colored fabric with long sleeves and a full skirt (not shorter than half-way between knee and floor). These dresses are covered with a cape and apron and are fastened with straight pins or snaps. They never cut their hair, which they wear in a bun on the back of the head. On their heads they wear a white prayer covering if they are married and a black one if they are single. Amish women do not wear jewelry.


Men and boys wear dark-colored suits, straight-cut coats without lapels, broadfall trousers, suspenders, solid-colored shirts, black socks and shoes, and black or straw broad-brimmed hats. Their shirts fasten with conventional buttons, but their suit coats and vests fasten with hooks and eyes. They do not have mustaches, but they grow beards after they marry.


The Amish feel these distinctive clothes encourage humility and separation from the world. Their clothing is not a costume; it is an expression of their faith.





Whats an Amish wedding like?


Family is the core element in the Amish church, and choosing a mate is the most important decision in an Amishmans life. Boys and girls begin their search for a spouse when they turn sixteen. By the time a young woman turns twenty or a young man is in his early twenties, he or she is probably looking forward to the wedding day. But several definite steps must be taken by a couple before they may marry.


Both must join the Amish church. They are baptized into the Amish faith and are responsible for following the Ordnung. The Ordnung is a written and unwritten set of rules for daily living. Joining the church prepares the young people for the seriousness of setting up their own home.


The young man asks his girl to marry him, but he does not give her a diamond. He may give her china or a clock. The couple keeps their intentions secret until July or August. At this time the young woman tells her family about her plans to marry.


A whirlwind of activity begins after Fast Day on October 11. Fall communion takes place the following church Sunday. After communion, proper certification of membership is requested, and is given by the second Sunday after communion. This is a major day in the life of the church because all the couples who plan to marry are published. At the end of the service, the deacon announces the names of the girls and who they plan to marry. The fathers then announce the date and time of the wedding and invite the members to attend. The betrothed couple does not attend the church service on the Sunday they are published. Instead, the young woman prepares a meal for her fiance and they enjoy dinner alone at her home. When the girls family returns from church, the daughter formally introduces her fiance to her parents.


After being published, the young people have just a few days before the ceremony. They are permitted to go to one last singing with their old group of friends. The girl also helps her mother prepare for the wedding and feast which takes place in her parents home. The boy is busy extending personal invitations to members of his church district.


And the bride wore...blue. Blue may not be the most traditional color for a bridal gown, but in one instance it is actually the most popular color choice. Blue is a typical color chosen for weddings by young Amish women. Navy blue, sky blue and shades of purple are the most popular colors donning Amish brides in any year. An Amish brides wedding attire is always new. She usually makes her own dress and also those of her attendants, known as newehockers, (Pennsylvania Dutch for sidesitters). The style of the dresses are a plain cut and are mid-calf length. They are unadorned, there is no fancy trim or lace and there is never a train. Most non-Amish brides wear their bridal dress once, but an Amish brides practical dress will serve her for more than just her wedding day. Her wedding outfit will become her Sunday church attire after she is married. She will also be buried in the same dress when she dies. The bride and her attendants also wear capes and aprons over their dresses. Instead of a veil, the bride wears a black prayer covering to differentiate from the white cap she wears daily. And, the bride must wear black high-topped shoes. No one in the bridal party carries flowers.


The groom and his newehockers wear black suits. All coats and vests fasten with hooks and eyes, not buttons. Their shirts are white, and shoes and stockings are black. Normally, Amish men do not wear ties, but for the wedding they will don bow ties. The groom also wears high-topped black shoes, and a black hat with a three and a half inch brim.


All of the attendants in the wedding party play a vital role in the events of the day. But there is no best man or maid of honor; all are of equal importance.


Wedding dates for the Amish are limited to November and part of December, when the harvest has been completed and severe winter weather has not yet arrived. A full day is needed to prepare for the wedding. Most are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are used as days to prepare for or to clean-up after. Saturdays are not used as wedding days because it would be sacrilegious to work or clean-up on the following day, Sunday.


A typical Amish wedding day begins at 4 oclock in the morning. After all, the cows must still be milked and all the other daily farm chores need to be done. There are also many last minute preparations to take care of before the wedding guests arrive. Helpers begin to arrive by 60 a.m. to take care of last minute details. By 700 a.m., the people in the wedding party have usually eaten breakfast, changed into their wedding clothes, and are waiting in the kitchen to greet the guests. Some 00 to 400 relatives, friends and church members are invited to the ceremony, which is held in the brides home.


The Forgeher, or ushers, (usually four married couples), will make sure each guest has a place on one of the long wooden benches in the meeting or church room of the home. At 80 a.m., the three-hour long service begins. The congregation will sing hymns, (without instrumental accompaniment), while the minister counsels the bride and groom in another part of the house. After the minister and the young couple return to the church room, a prayer, Scripture reading and sermon takes place. Typically, the sermon is a very long one.


After the sermon is concluded, the minister asks the bride and groom to step forward from their seat with the rest of the congregation. Then he questions them about their marriage to be, which is similar to taking wedding vows. The minister then blesses the couple. After the blessing, other ordained men and the fathers of the couple may give testimony about marriage to the congregation. A final prayer draws the ceremony to a close.


Thats when the festivities begin. In a flurry of activity, the women rush to the kitchen to get ready to serve dinner while the men set up tables in a U-shape around the walls of the living room. A corner of the table will be reserved for the bride and groom and the bridal party. This is an honored place called the Eck, meaning corner. The tables are set at least twice during the meal, depending on how many guests were invited. The tables are laden with the roast, (roast chicken with bread stuffing), mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed celery, coleslaw, applesauce, cherry pie, donuts, fruit salad, tapioca pudding and bread, butter and jelly.


The bride sits on the grooms left, in the corner, the same way they will sit as man and wife in their buggy. The single women sit on the same side as the bride and the single men on that of the groom. The immediate family members sit at a long table in the kitchen, with both fathers seated at the head.


After dinner, the afternoon is spent visiting, playing games and matchmaking. Sometimes the bride will match unmarried boys and girls, who are over 16 years old, to sit together at the evening meal. The evening meal starts at 500 p.m. The parents of the bride and groom, and the older guests are now seated at the main table and are the first to be served. The supper varies from the traditional noon meal. A typical menu might consist of stewed chicken, fried sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, peas, cold-cuts, pumpkin and lemon sponge pies, and cookies. The day usually winds to a close around 100 p.m.


The couples first night together is spent at the brides home because they must get up early the next day to help clean the house. Their honeymoon is spent visiting all their new relatives on the weekends throughout the winter months ahead. This is when they collect the majority of their wedding gifts. Usually, they receive useful items such as dishware, cookware, canned food, tools and household items. Typically, when the newlyweds go visiting, they will go to one place Friday night and stay overnight for breakfast the following day. Theyll visit a second place in the afternoon and stay for the noon meal and go to a third place for supper. Saturday night is spent at a fourth place, where they have Sunday breakfast. A fifth place is visited for Sunday dinner and a sixth for Sunday supper before they return to the brides parents home. The couple lives at the home of the brides parents until they can set up their own home the following spring.








Do Amish children go to school?


Yes...for the many Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite children living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the ringing school bell signals a time to shift attention from field work to school work, a time to drop the hoe and pick up a pencil.


Old Order children attend one-room schools through the eighth grade and are usually taught by a young, unmarried Christian woman. As a result of the Countys growing Old Order population, enrollment in their one-room schools is surging. During recent years Old Order leaders have been over-seeing the construction of new one-room school buildings at the rate of about five per year.


A 17 Supreme Court ruling exempted the Old Order sects from compulsory attendance laws beyond the eighth grade. The one-room schools restrict worldly influences and stress the basics such as reading, writing and arithmetic. The importance of the community and cooperation among its members are also emphasized


Why dont the Amish use electricity?


Amish people interpret linking with electrical wires as a connection with the world - and the Bible tells them they are not to be conformed to the world. (Romans 1) In 11 the Amish leaders agreed that connecting to power lines would not be in the best interest of the Amish community. They did not make this decision because they thought electricity was evil in itself, but because easy access to it could lead to many temptations and the deterioration of church and family life.


Most of us today would think it impossible to live without the modern conveniences such as electricity and cars. What makes the Old Order Amish unique is not that they get along without modernity, but that they choose to do without it when it would be readily available. The Amish value simplicity and self-denial over comfort, convenience and leisure. Their lifestyle is a deliberate way of separating from the world and maintaining self-sufficiency. (Amish are less threatened by power shortages caused by storm, disaster, or war.) As a result there is a bonding that unites the Amish community and protects it from outside influences such as television, radios, and other influences.





Can an outsider join the Amish church/community?


A local Amishman recently remarked, You do not need to move here to adopt a lifestyle of simplicity and discipleship. You can begin wherever you are. Yes, it is possible for outsiders, through conversion and convincement, to join the Amish community, but we must quickly add that it seldom happens. First, the Amish do not evangelize and seek to add outsiders to their church. Second, outsiders would need to live among the Amish and demonstrate a genuine conversion experience and faith that results in a changed lifestyle. Third, it is extremely difficult for anyone who has not been raised without electricity, automobiles, and other modern conveniences to adjust to the austere lifestyle of the Amish. And to truly be a part of the Amish community one would need to learn the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.





Why do Amish men have beards, but not mustaches?


There are quite a few scripture that mention beards in the Bible. An example would be Psalm 11,. An Amishman does not shave his beard after he becomes married; a long beard is the mark of an adult Amishman. Mustaches, on the other hand, have a long history of being associated with the military, and therefore are forbidden among the Amish people.





Is the Amish calendar the same as ours?


The Amish use the same yearly calendar that you use. We might add that November is the month for weddings - spring, summer, and fall months there is too much work to be done and in the winter theres the risk of unfavorable weather. Also, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the days for weddings - these are the least busy days of the week.





The Amish do not use electricity or modern conveniences, yet they have this website. How can that be?


This website is not maintained or created by the Amish themselves. However, those involved in this website are directly in contact with the Amish and Mennonites, either by heritage, friendship, or business relationships. This website, and the Ask The Amish feature especially, has been created in an effort to pass along the truth about the Amish and their chosen lifestyle. There is much misinformation about these fascinating people, even here in the heart of the so-called Amish Country, and one goal of this service is to dismiss that misinformation, and pass along the truth. We are not here to make money off the Amish, or to exploit them in any way. Many local Amish people have seen this website, and have expressed their appreciation for our efforts. Some participate in answering questions, or assisting in other efforts. Several local Amish businesses have also joined the Pennsylvania Dutch Welcome Center as participating advertisers.





Do the Amish pay taxes?


Self-employed Amish do not pay Social Security tax. Those employed by non-Amish employers do pay Social Security tax. The Amish do pay real estate, state and federal income taxes, county taxes, sales tax, etc.


The Amish do not collect Social Security benefits, nor would they collect unemployment or welfare funds. Self sufficiency is the Amish communitys answer to government aid programs. Section 10 of the Medicare section of the Social Security act has a sub-section that permits individuals to apply for exemption from the self-employment tax if he is a member of a religious body that is conscientiously opposed to social security benefits but that makes reasonable provision of taking care of their own elderly or dependent members. The Amish have a long history of taking care of their own members. They do not have retirement communities or nursing homes; in most cases, each family takes care of their own, and the Amish community gives assistance as needed.





I think some of my ancestors might have been Amish. How can I find out?


The best source of that kind of information would be the Mennonite Historical Society, which maintains an extensive genealogical library. Their address is 15 Millstream Road, Lancaster, PA 1760. Telephone (717)-745.





What are the beliefs of the Amish?


It is difficult to explain in a few sentences what the Amish people believe. This is a very simplified statement. As Amish and Mennonites, we believe that God loved the world so much that he gave his only son to die on the cross and that through faith in the shed blood of Jesus we are reconciled to God. We believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, that as Christians we should live as brothers, that the church is separate from the State, that we are committed to peace, and that faith calls for a lifestyle of discipleship and good works. More information on Amish and Mennonite beliefs can be obtained by writing Mennonite Information Center, 0 Millstream Road, Lancaster, PA 1760-144.





What crops are grown on an Amish farm?


Main crops raised by Amish in Lancaster County, in order of acreage, are corn, hay, wheat, tobacco, soybeans, barley, potatoes, and other vegetables. Farmers also grow various grasses for grazing. Corn, grain, and hay crops usually stay on the farm for feeding livestock. Tobacco, potatoes, some grain and hay plus vegetables are raised for marketing. Farming is done with horsedrawn equipment with metal wheels (no rubber tires.)





What is this thing called the Ordnung the Amish live by?


Donald B. Kraybill in his book, The Riddle of Amish Culture, writes The Amish blueprint for expected behavior, called the Ordnung, regulates private, public, and cermonial life. Ordnung does not translate readily into English. Sometimes rendered as ordnance or discipline, the Ordnung is best thought of as an ordering of the whole way of life . . . a code of conduct which the church maintains by tradition rather than by systematic or explicit rules. A member noted The order is not written down. The people just know it, thats all. Rather than a packet or rules to memorize, the Ordnung is the understood behavior by which the Amish are expected to lfe. In the same way that the rules of grammar are learned by children, so the Ordnung, the grammar of order, is learned by Amish youth. The Ordnung evolved gradually over the decades as the church sought to strike a delicate balance between tradition and change. Specific details of the Ordnung vary across church districts and settlements.








What do the Amish think of tourists visiting their area?


Amish people want nothing more than to simply be left alone. However, for the most part they have accepted the influx of tourism as something they cannot change. So far as their lifestyle, tourists have not changed the Amish. It is true that some have moved away, partly because of tourism, but also because of the high cost of land in Lancaster County. Others have opened small shops and are now realizing profits from the tourists.





How true was the portrayal of the Amish in the movie Witness, starring Harrison Ford?


The movie, Witness, portrayed Amish lifestyle fairly accurately in what was shown, but it portrayed a very limited segment of Amish lifestyle. The Amish people have had a lot of reservations about Witness. The plot seemed to be inconsistent with the lifestyle and culture of the Amish. It was filmed in the geographical area of the Amish, but not on an Amish farm. The actors and actresses in the movie were not Amish.





Why are all the buggys black?


Throughout the United States and in Canada not all buggies are black. The similarity of Amish carriages in any given area allows little for status, but speaks of all being equal. Therefore, members of a particular group can be identified by the buggies they drive. In Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, for example, there are five distinct groups of Old Order Amish living in the Kishacoquillas Valley. The two most conservative groups drive white-topped buggies, another has yellow tops, and two others use black buggies. Here in Lancaster County, the Old Order Amish drive gray buggies and the Old Order Mennonites drive black buggies.





How does a barn raising work?


A barn-raising is indeed a community endeavor for the Amish. At daybreak, the Amish buggies arrive at the farm where the barn is to be erected. An experienced Amish carpenter/contractor is in charge and men are assigned to various areas of work. Often the framing is completed before the noon meal and in the afternoon the roofing is installed. Meanwhile the women are preparing a delicious noon meal, sometimes served outdoors. There is always prayer before a meal is served. The children play games and are available to run errands. But they also have a most exciting day as spectators at a truly amazing project of brotherly love---building a barn in one day.


What language do the Amish speak?


In their homes and in conversations with each other, the Old Order Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch, which is a dialect of German. We understand that it is similar to Platt that is spoken in parts of northern Germany. When children go to school they learn English. In their worship services the sermons are given in German. The German language, Deitch, is also taught in Amish schools.





What are the basic beliefs of the Amish?


Both Mennonites and Amish believe in one God eternally existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Romans 81-17). We believe that Jesus Christ, Gods only Son, died on the cross for the sins of the world. We believe that the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, and also empowers believers for service and holy living. We believe that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, a free gift bestowed by God on those who repent and believe.


One scripture often quoted in Amish worship services is Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 1) They are admonished to live a life that is separate from the world.





What are the Amish courting rituals?


For many of the Old Order Amish young people, pairing up begins at Sunday evening singings, The boy will take the girl home in his buggy. The couple is secretive about their friendship and courtship. Several days to two weeks before the wedding, the couple is published in church and their intentions to marry are made known. Weddings are held in November, or at the very latest in early December. Thats after the busy fall harvesting season is over. Weddings are on Tuesdays or Thursdays--the least busy days of the week on an Amish farm. The wedding is held at the home of the bride and the sermon and ceremony will last about four hours. Weddings usually begin at 80 a.m. There are no kisses, rings, photography, flowers or caterers. There are usually 00 or more guests. After the wedding there will be a delicious dinner of chicken, filling, mashed potatoes, gravy, ham, relishes, canned fruit, plus many kinds of cookies, cakes and pies.





Why do Amish men wear black hats?


Here in Lancaster County, the Amish men wear broad-brimmed hats of black felt. The width of the brim and hat band and the height and shape of the crown are variables which gauge the orthodoxy of the group and individual wearer. A wide brim, low crown, and narrow hat band denotes the oldest and most traditional style. Within church groups, ones age and status is often reflected by the dimensions of ones hat. For warm weather, straw hats are preferred by plain men.





Do Amish families play games?


Yes, Amish families do play games and read together in the evenings. Parents are involved in their childrens activities. However, there are not long evenings in an Amish family. When the children get home from school, there are chores that must be done. At an early age, children have responsibilities assigned to them. After the evening meal, the school homework must be tackled, and before long it is bedtime. Amish are early risers and therefore go to bed early.





Do the Amish still milk their cows by hand?


Very few Amish, if any, do their milking by hand. Today they have modern milking equipment -- not electric, but operated by alternate sources of power. In order to ship milk, the Amish must have modern refrigerated milk tanks. They also have modern barn-cleaning equipment. Children get involved in daily chores at a very early age -- even before they start school. However, the chores are suited to the age of the child.





Do the Amish practice shunning fellow church members?


The term church members means those who are baptized as adults and voluntarily commit themselves to a life of obedience to God and the church. Yes, those who break their baptismal vows are shunned by the Old Order Amish. Belonging is important and shunning is meant to be redemptive. It is not an attempt to harm or ruin the individual and in most cases it does bring that member back into the fellowship again. Actually, the number of members excommunicated and shunned by the Amish is small.


The Biblical basis for shunning is found in these two verses But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat (I Corinthians 511)


Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and of fences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 1617)


The families of a shunned member are expected to also shun them. Families shun the person by not eating at the same table with them. The practice of shunning makes family gatherings especially awkward.





If If the Amish interpret the Bible literally, how do they relate to Christs command to go into all the world and preach the gospeI to every creature?


Early Anabaptists, the ancestors of Amish and Mennonites, were very evangelistic, going everywhere preaching and teaching. This was a sharp contrast to the Christian society in which they lived. Persecution followed and many Anabaptists died for their faith and their zeal for evangelism. In the years that followed, missionary zeal decreased. The church succumbed to persecution and discrimination. Gradually Amish and Mennonites became known more for their traditional practices and their quiet, peaceful way of life and less for their active evangelism. This trend continued until it seemed almost wrong to send members out of the close community to evangelize. Old Order Amish, along with some Old Order Mennonites, have retained this position and desire to remain the quiet in the land. However, missionary zeal experienced a strong rebirth around the beginning of this century in Mennonite circles and more recently among the Church Amish. As a result of this rebirth of evangelism, Mennonites today number more than one million people in over 60 countries around the world and speak 78 different languages.





What holidays do you ceIebrate and why?


Holidays observed by the Amish are the religious holidays Thanksgiving, Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost, and Whit Monday (the day after pentecost). The reasons for these observances are to fast and meditate on scriptures related to these days. We should also mention that December 5 is a solemn celebration of Christs birth and second Christmas on December 6 is a time for visiting and family dinners.





Do the Amish use modern medicine and doctors?


Most Amish and Mennonite groups to not oppose modern medicine. Their readiness to seek health services varies from family to family. Nothing in the Amish understanding of the Bible forbids them from using modern medical services, including surgery, hospitalization, dental work, anesthesia, blood transfusions, etc. They do believe, however, that good health, both physical and mental, is a gift from God and requires careful stewardship on the part of the individual. With few exceptions, physicians rate the Amish as desirable patients they are stable, appreciative, and their bills will be paid. They do not have hospitalization insurance, but they band together to help pay medical expenses for anyone of their group who needs financial assistance. A designated leader in the Amish community is given responsibility for their mutual aid fund.





Do Amish women still use midwives for childbirth?


Some Amish women go to English doctors and have their babies in local hospitals; others go to birthing centers; and some choose to have midwives who will deliver the babies at home. It is a matter of preference. We do not have statistics as to how many midwives are in Lancaster County.





What are common Amish names?


According to John A. Hostetler, author of Amish Society, the most common family names among the Amish in Lancaster county are Stoltzfus, King, Fisher, Beiler, and Lapp. The most common first names for males are John, Amos, Samuel, Daniel, and David. The most common first names for females are Mary, Rebecca, Sarah, Katie, and Annie.





Why do Old Order Amish not like having their pictures taken?


Old Order Amish and Mennonites forbid photography of their people, and their objection is based on the second commandment, Exodus 04 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.





What are the differences between Amish and Mennonite groups?


It is impossible to answer this question with a few simple sentences. There are so many varieties of Mennonites and Amish around the world that we cannot cover the many shades of belief and practice among them. It is true that most Mennonite and Amish groups have common historical roots. Both were part of the early Anabaptist movement in Europe, which took place at the time of the Reformation. A group led by Jacob Amman broke from the Mennonites in 16 and became known as Amish. Amish and Mennonites are Christian fellowships; they stress that belief must result in practice. The differences among the various Amish and Mennonite groups through the years have almost always been ones of practice rather than basic Christian doctrine.





Why are Amish schools different?


School for Old Order Amish and Mennonites is only a part of the learning necessary for preparation for the adult world. Children have formal schooling in one-room schools to 8th grade and then have a structured learning program supervised by their parents. Classes in the one-room Amish schools are conducted in English, and the children learn English when they go to school. The teachers are Amish and they have no more than an eighth grade education themselves. When the landmark United States Supreme Court decision of 17 gave exemption for Amish and related groups from state compulsory attendance laws beyond the eighth grade, Chief Justice Burger wrote it is neither fair nor correct to suggest that the Amish are opposed to education beyond the eighth grade level. What this record shows is that they are opposed to conventional formal education of the type provided by a certified high school because it comes at the childs crucial adolescent period of religious development.


Mennonites, on the other hand, have dozens of parochial elementary schools, more than 0 high schools, eleven colleges, and three seminaries sponsored by Mennonite groups in North America. Mennonite families choose whether to send their children to public or church-sponsored schools. Higher education became a vocational necessity as Mennonites left the farm. Missions and service opportunities also gave rise to the need for higher education.





How do the Amish hold a funeral?


Here in Lancaster County, funeral and burial usually takes place three days after death. A funeral director from the local area assists in a minimal way, which usually includes embalming, and sometimes includes supplying the coffin and the hearse. In death, as in life the simplicity is evident. A plain wooden coffin is built. Often it is six-sided with a split lie - the upper part is hinged so it can be opened for viewing the body. It is very simple - no ornate carving or fine fabrics. Traditionally a woman will wear the white apron she wore on her wedding day. In some Amish communities both men and women wear white for burial. The tone of the two-hour Amish funeral service is hopeful, yet full of admonition for the living. There are no eulogies. Respect for the deceased is expressed, but not praise. A hymn is spoken but not sung. There are no flowers. The grave is hand dug in an Amish church district cemetery. There will be only a simple tombstone to mark the spot, much like all the other tombstones in the cemetery - in death as in life, we are all equal and do not elevate one person above another.





Is it true that dolls for girls have no faces?


Our understanding is that years ago, most of the dolls for little girls were rag dolls without faces. The Amish have retained this custom. We believe the reason is similar to the refusal to have pictures of people and is linked to the second commandment. (Exodus 04-6) At an early age children are learning not to have images, likenesses, idols.





I have heard the Amish will place a small mistake or imperfection in a quilt or other handmade item. Why is this done?


Weve heard that many years ago sometimes a scrap of fabric that didnt quite match was used inconspicuously in a patchwork quilt to give it identity. We question whether this is true. We dont know of any quilters who would do that today. Amish quilts are all band quilted; stitches are very small and uniform. But, no matter how hard one tries, the stitches are not all identical and perfect. A quilt may have an imperfection, but it wasnt on purpose.





Do the Amish play any form of musical instrument?


No. Musical instruments are forbidden by the Old 0lder Amish community. Playing an instrument would be worldly. It is contrary to the spirit of Glassenheit (humility), and would stir up the emotions of those who are involved.





Do the Amish look upon the rest of society, those who are not of an Anabaptist tradition, as heathen?


The Amish have deliberately made decisions as to what will or will not be allowed among members of the Amish community. The Amish do not pass judgment on outsiders.





Is the Amish community aware of a television program from a couple of years back called Aarons Way about an Amish family that moved out into the secular community?


No, the Amish community is not aware of the television program you referred to, and therefore we cannot comment. No, we do not know of any Amish families who have broken away and maintained the Amish lifestyle. We should add that we did check with someone outside the Amish community who saw several episodes of Aarons Way and said it was almost totally fictional and thoroughly disgusting.





I know that the Amish dont own automobiles, but in our area it is common to see them riding in other peoples vehicles. Some even have made a business of offering rides, for a fee, to them. If the Amish dont believe in owning automobiles, it seems strange that they would ride in them. Seems inconsistent to me. Why is this?


Maintaining Amish standards, but accepting some modernization to meet needs of living, requires compromise that must not disrupt the social structure. By rejecting certain types of modernity and accepting others, some Amish appear to the outside world to be contradicting themselves - hypocrites. However, from the viewpoint of Amish culture, there is no contradiction. One of the more pronounced inconsistencies is the use of an automobile...although he may not own a car, a member may accept rides and willingly hires an automobile with a driver to transport him from place to place. There was little hesitation when the Amish decided no to car ownership. It would separate the community in various ways. If only wealthy members could afford it, the car would bring inequality. Proud individuals would use it to show off their status, power and wealth. Cars would speed things up dramatically, disrupting the slow pace of Amish living. So, they will use them but not own them, for then things will surely get out of control.





Do the amish believe in gas power?


Yes, the Amish use gas. Bottled gas is used to operate water heaters, modern stoves and refrigerators. Gas-pressured lanterns and lamps are used to light homes, barns and.shops.





Is it true the Amish are exempt from Medicare and Medicaid withholding? What legal basis is used for this?


Medicare and Medicaid are a part of the Social Security system. Old Order Amish believe that if the church is faithful to its calling, many government programs and commercial insurance are not needed. That conviction forced them to testify before Congress because they did not want to receive Social Security benefits. What they wanted instead was the right to look after their own elderly. They were finally given approval, if self-employed, to be exempt from paying the tax. Seldom do Old Order Amish individuals accept Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.





I understand your belief in nonresistance and pacifism. Does this principal extend to personal situations where you are confronted with imminent evil -- say a known murderer confronting you and your family in your home? Can you use force to preserve your life in this situation? To what extent? What is the Biblical basis for your position?


Both Amish and Mennonites are committed to a lifestyle of peace and non-violence. Yes, this pervades every aspect of life. However, no one can predict with certainty how anyone would really react to an absolutely unprecedented crisis such as described above. Emotions as well as thoughts are involved and the situation is personalized. Having said this, we would hope that as people who have practiced a lifestyle of peace, we would not resort to force and violence in a crisis situation such as the one described.


We must briefly make several points


1. There is no assurance that use of force would save my life or the life of my family if confronted by an attacker.


. We could recall many accounts of unhoped for deliverances, whether by mediation, nature, or divine Providence, when Christians refused to use force when confronted by an attacker.


. If the result is death at the hands of the attacker, so be it; death is not threatening to us as Christians. Hopefully the attacker will have at least had a glimpse of the love of Christ in our nonviolent response.


4. The Christian does not choose a nonviolent approach to conflict because of assurance it will always work; rather the Christian chooses this approach because of his/her commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord.


The analogy to war in the situation described above tends to break down when we think of the vast preparations for war -- accumulation of weapons, training of the military, etc. War is planned and seldom is aggression so clearly defined with the defense staying on its home turf.


Some of the Biblical references for peace and non-resistance are Matthew 58-48; John 186; Romans 118-1; and I Corinthians 618.


What are the basic beliefs of the Amish?


The Amish believe that


· The Bible is the inspired word of God


· There is one God eternally existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Romans 81-17).


· God loved the world so much that he gave his only son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the sins of the world.


· Through faith in the shed blood of Jesus we are reconciled to God.


· Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, a free gift bestowed by God on those who repent and believe.


· As Christians, we should live as brothers


· The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, and also empowers believers for service and holy living.


· The church is separate from the State


· We are committed to peace.


· Faith calls for a lifestyle of discipleship and good works service and holy living.


One scripture often quoted in Amish worship services is


Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 1)


The Amish are admonished to live a life that is separate from the world.


More information on Amish and Mennonite beliefs can be obtained by writing Mennonite Information Center, 0 Millstream Road, Lancaster, PA 1760-144.





If the Amish interpret the Bible literally, how do they relate to Christs command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature?


Early Anabaptists, the ancestors of Amish and Mennonites, were very evangelistic, going everywhere preaching and teaching. This was a sharp contrast to the Christian society in which they lived. Persecution followed and many Anabaptists died for their faith and their zeal for evangelism. In the years that followed, missionary zeal decreased. The church succumbed to persecution and discrimination. Gradually Amish and Mennonites became known more for their traditional practices and their quiet, peaceful way of life and less for their active evangelism. This trend continued until it seemed almost wrong to send members out of the close community to evangelize. Old Order Amish, along with some Old Order Mennonites, have retained this position and desire to remain the quiet in the land. However, missionary zeal experienced a strong rebirth around the beginning of this century in Mennonite circles and more recently among the Church Amish. As a result of this rebirth of evangelism, Mennonites today number more than one million people in over 60 countries around the world and speak 78 different languages.





Do the Amish practice shunning fellow church members?


The term church members means those who are baptized as adults and voluntarily commit themselves to a life of obedience to God and the church. Yes, those who break their baptismal vows are shunned by the Old Order Amish. Belonging is important and shunning is meant to be redemptive. It is not an attempt to harm or ruin the individual and in most cases it does bring that member back into the fellowship again. Actually, the number of members excommunicated and shunned by the Amish is small.


The Biblical basis for shunning is found in these two verses


· But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a one (I Corinthians 511)


· Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and of fences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 1617)


The families of a shunned member are expected to also shun them. Families shun the person by not eating at the same table with them. The practice of shunning makes family gatherings especially awkward.





I understand the Amish belief in nonresistance and pacifism. Does this principle extend to personal situations where you are confronted with imminent evil -- say a known murderer confronting you and your family in your home? Can you use force to preserve your life in this situation? To what extent? What is the Biblical basis for your position?


Both Amish and Mennonites are committed to a lifestyle of peace and non- violence. Yes, this pervades every aspect of life. However, no one can predict with certainty how anyone would really react to an absolutely unprecedented crisis such as described above. Emotions as well as thoughts are involved and the situation is personalized. Having said this, we would hope that as people who have practiced a lifestyle of peace, we would not resort to force and violence in a crisis situation such as the one described.


We must briefly make several points


1. There is no assurance that use of force would save my life or the life of my family if confronted by an attacker.


. We could recall many accounts of unhoped for deliverances, whether by mediation, nature, or divine Providence, when Christians refused to use force when confronted by an attacker.


. If the result is death at the hands of the attacker, so be it; death is not threatening to us as Christians. Hopefully the attacker will have at least had a glimpse of the love of Christ in our nonviolent response.


4. The Christian does not choose a nonviolent approach to conflict because of assurance it will always work; rather the Christian chooses this approach because of his / her commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord.


The analogy to war in the situation described above tends to break down when we think of the vast preparations for war -- accumulation of weapons, training of the military, etc. War is planned and seldom is aggression so clearly defined with the defense staying on its home turf.


Some of the Biblical references for peace and non-resistance are Matthew 58-48; John 186; Romans 118-1; and I Corinthians 618.





Do the Amish look upon the rest of society, those who are not of an Anabaptist tradition, as heathen?


The Amish have deliberately made decisions as to what will or will not be allowed among members of the Amish community. The Amish do not pass judgment on outsiders.





What are the differences between Amish and Mennonite groups?


It is impossible to answer this question with a few simple sentences. There are so many varieties of Mennonites and Amish around the world that we cannot cover the many shades of belief and practice among them. However, most Mennonite and Amish groups have common historical roots. Both were part of the early Anabaptist movement in Europe, which took place at the time of the Reformation. A group led by Jacob Amman broke from the Mennonites in 16 and became known as Amish. Amish and Mennonites are Christian fellowships; they stress that belief must result in practice. The differences among the various Amish and Mennonite groups through the years have almost always been ones of practice rather than basic Christian doctrine.


History


During the Reformation in 16th Century Europe, Luther and Calvin promoted the concepts of individual freedom and the priesthood of all believers. In what has been called the radical reformation, some religious reformers took these beliefs to a logical conclusion; they preached that the believer should separate themselves from all secular activities. One of the largest groups, the Anabaptists promoted


baptism during adulthood after confession of faith, instead of during infancy


the total separation of religion from and state


worship services in the home rather than at church


The religious movements that they founded are called free churches as contrasted to the state churches which were normal for the time. Their groups were simple associations of adult Christians. Most groups were wiped out in wars or programs of genocide which were organized by various governments, and both the main-line Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.


The Mennonites are named after Menno Simons (146-1561), a Dutch Anabaptist leader. They were severely persecuted and fled to Switzerland and other more remote areas of Europe. The Amish began as a split-off sect of the Swiss Mennonites during the late 17th century. Their founder was Jacob Amman, who based his beliefs and practices on the writings of Simons and on the 16 Mennonite Dordrecht Confession of Faith. The split with the Mennonites was mainly over the practices of foot washing and avoidance. The latter practice is based on the discipline of fellow believers as described in Matthew 1815-17


Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and tell him alone...But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more...And if he shall neglect to hear them, then tell it onto the church but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.


(Other references are I Corinthians 511 and Romans 1617). A non-conforming member would be shunned; the community of believers would terminate all contact with him. Amman took this practice one step further and required the spouse of a person under the ban to neither sleep nor eat with them, until they repented and changed their behavior or beliefs.


The Amish and Mennonites have retained similar beliefs, and differ mainly in some practices.


Some Amish migrated to the United States, started in the early 18th century. As a result of William Penns holy experiment in religious tolerance, many Amish started settling in Lancaster County, PA during the 170s. Other groups settled in or moved to New York, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio, etc. They have attempted to preserve the elements of late 17th century European rural culture. They reject most of the developments of the modern society. During the 1860s, a series of conferences were held in Wayne County OH to deal with modern pressures. Partly as a result of these conferences, the Amish split into a number of divisions, including the conservative Old Order Amish and various more liberal groups.


Membership in the main Amish church, the Old Order Amish Mennonite Church is not reported. The other Amish groups are relatively small. Probably the total of all Amish groups would be on the order of 100,000 in states, including about 45,000 in Ohio and smaller numbers in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, etc. There are about 1,500 in Ontario, Canada. Almost all members are descendants of Amish parents. Converts are believed to constitute less than 10% of the total membership.





Beliefs


The Amish are a very conservative Christian faith group. Many of their beliefs are identical to those of Fundamentalist and other Evangelical churches, including baptism, a literal interpretation of the Bible, etc. Differences include


Their belief in remaining separate from the rest of the world.


Their rejection of involvement with the military or warfare.


Each district is autonomous; there is no centralized Amish organization.


They have traditionally avoided attempts to seek converts. Recently, some Amish groups have become active in evangelization.


the Ordnung is an oral tradition which regulates the Amish way of life. Specific details of the Ordnung differ among various church districts.





Practices


Practices of the Old Order Amish are listed below. Some smaller Amish groups have adopted more progressive practices.


Members usually speak a German dialect called Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch). High German is used during worship. They learn English at school.


Schools are one-room buildings run by the Amish. Formal education beyond Grade 8 is discouraged, although many youth are given further instruction in their homes after graduation.


Members do not own or use automobiles.


They do not use electricity, or have radios or TV sets.


Marriages outside the faith are not allowed. Couples who plan to marry are published in late October. They are married in one of their homes during November or early December.


They celebrate the traditional Christian holy days. They also observe a Fast Day on October 11.


Men follow the laws of the Hebrew Scriptures with regards to beards. They do not grow mustaches, because of the long association of mustaches with the military


Men usually dress in a plain, dark colored suit. Women usually wear a plain colored dress with long sleeves, bonnet and apron. Women wear a white prayer covering if married; black if single. At death, a woman is usually buried in her bridal dress, which is often blue or purple.


Religious services are held in the homes of members biweekly on Sunday. They meet in a different home each week.


Funerals are conducted in the home without a eulogy, flower decorations, or other display. The casket is plain, without adornment. A simple tombstone is erected later.


They do not collect social security/Canada Pension Plan benefits, unemployment insurance or welfare. They maintain mutual aid funds for members who need help with medical costs, dental bills, etc.


They do not take photographs. This is based on the prohibition in Exodus 04, the second of the Ten Commandments Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that...is in the earth...





Conflicts and problems


Education The Amishs insistence on terminating formal schooling after the 8th grade conflicted with many states laws which require children to remain in school until their mid-teens. Some Amish migrated from Pennsylvania to other states, like Missouri, which had more relaxed laws. A ruling by the US Supreme Court in 17 recognized their right to limit education of their children.


Accidents Highway accidents between motor vehicles and Amish black horse and buggies are a concern to many.


Polio There was an outbreak of polio in 17 among Amish in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin Missouri and Canada. The North American population of Amish was essentially unvaccinated against polio at the time. The spread of the disease was halted by an emergency vaccination campaign. This was the last significant outbreak of the disease in the U.S.


Genetic diseases Some Amish groups have a limited gene pool. For example, the Amish in Lancaster County, PA, are descendents of about 00 Swiss citizens who emigrated in the mid 1700s. Because they do not marry outsiders and because few outsiders have joined the order, the community has been essentially a closed genetic population for more than 1 generations. Thus, intermarriage has brought to the fore certain genetic mutations that were present in the initial genetic pool (as they are in any population), making the Amish host to several inherited disorders. These include dwarfism, mental retardation and a large group of metabolic disorders. One in 00 have glutaric aciduria type I; they are born healthy, but can experience permanent neurological damage when a mild illness strikes. More details at Melissa Hendrcks, A doctor who makes barn calls, at http//www.jhu.edu/~jhumag/114web/barndoc.html





Origins of the Old Order Amish


The Amish, called The Plain People or Old Order Amish, originated in Switzerland about l55. They came from a division of the Mennonites or Anabaptists (Re-baptizers). They opposed the union of church and state and infant baptism. They baptized people only as adults at about age l8. Adult baptism was a crime in the l6th century. Therefore, the Amish come from an impressive list of martyrs. They were put in sacks and thrown into rivers in Europe. There are no Amish left in Europe; The Amish were saved from extinction by William Penn who granted a haven from religious persecution in America. Since early colonial days the Amish have lived in the United States preserving their distinctive culture, dress, language and religion in peace and prosperity.


A few years ago they were again accused of crimes -- failing to have their children attend school with state certified teachers or failure to send them beyond the eighth grade. Until the United States Supreme Court in the case of Wisconsin vs. Yoder ruled in l7 that it was unconstitutional to force Amish into high school. The decision was based on the Constitutional legal issues of Parental Rights and Religious Freedom. Since the Amish believe in turning the other cheek and do not defend themselves, the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom and its attorney William B. Ball of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, defended them in court.


It may seem strange that failing to send children to school past the eighth grade would be a permitted or acceptable practice. But the Amish society is itself a school. They train their young people vocationally -- how to be homemakers and farmers, carpenters, and tradesmen from very early ages. By the time an Amish girl is twelve years old she knows how to cook a meal for a whole crew of Amish workers, and a young man knows farm operations by the time he is a teenager.


The Amish therefore have practically no unemployment, since their society is a vocational school. The Amish operate one-room parochial schools and are taught by teachers with only an eight-grade education. However, the teachers have learned how to be teachers with on the job training by an older and experienced Amish teacher. The Amish pupils have been tested with standardized tests by the U.S. Office of Education, and the pupils usually perform above the norms when compared to public schools pupils in their communities. The students are not therefore educationally deprived. Furthermore, it is difficult, if not impossible, for a non-Amish teacher to teach the values of humility, quietness, and shunning of technological things like automobiles, television, video games, movies and fashions. Some people think the Amish are ignorant because they shun technology, but the Amish are also making profound statements about the environment. They do not use gasoline, electricity, commercial chemicals, CFCs -- all of which pollute the environment.


The Amish live in nineteen states, Canada, and Central America. However, 80 percent of the Amish live in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. The Old Order Amish take their name from an early Swiss Anabaptist, Jacob Amman, who became their strict Bishop and taught them the Amish ethics -- Living non-resistant lives (They do not serve in the military, but only in hospitals or alternate service), with brotherly love, sharing material aid and living close to the soil and following the Bible literally. They cite the Bible which says, Be ye not conformed to the world as their chief tenet.


To this day they endure as a distinctive folk group because they have preserved a mentality of separation from the world and the sentiments of persecuted strangers in the land. They wear plain clothing fastened with hooks and eyes, not buttons. Their men wear broad-brimmed black hats, plain-cut trousers and the women and even little girls wear bonnets and ankle length dresses. They generally oppose automobiles, electricity, telephones and higher education beyond eighth grade.


Their congregations number only about 00. They worship in homes and not in church buildings. They do not drive cars or ride in airplanes, but drive horses and buggies. This keeps their communities small and close-knit, and their children do not live all over the world. Family values are important to them. They are slow to change and speak the German language along with English. They drive horses and buggies for transportation. They practice shunning for any of their members who break their rules.


Although many people do not understand their simple way of life, the Amish are maintaining a very profound position. They want to be prepared for the world to come rather than for becoming rich or famous in this world. They would rather maintain a close-knit family life than travel all over. The norms and educational goals of our society which stress product centered, high pressure, technological and secular values are antithetical to Amish beliefs. Therefore, they practice old ways, slowness of pace, simplicity, close-knit agrarian living. The 80,000 Old Order Amish oppose higher education because it violates their morals, their religious convictions and takes their children away from the simple ways of the Amish.


I. Group Profile


1. Name The Amish


. Founder Jacob Amman


. Date of Birth February 1, 1656


4. Birth Place Switzerland


5. Year Founded 16-167


6. Sacred Texts


The Bible is the sacred text of the Amish people. The Amish interpret the Bible literally and directly in many cases which explains their lifestyle. In addition to the Bible there are unwritten rules on which the Amish people base their morals and way of life. The Ordung are the unwritten rules of the church and are not specified in writing, but are known and closely followed.


7. Cult or Sect


Negative sentiments are typically implied when the concepts cult and sect are employed in popular discourse. Since the Religious Movements Homepage seeks to promote religious tolerance and appreciation of the positive benefits of pluralism and religious diversity in human cultures, we encourage the use of alternative concepts that do not carry implicit negative stereotypes. For a more detailed discussion of both scholarly and popular usage of the concepts cult and sect, please visit our Conceptualizing Cult and Sect page, where you will find additional links to related issues.


8. Size of Group


Estimates of the total number of Amish in North America vary. Melton reports 0,000 in 15 and 00 in Canada. Three quarters of all Amish are located in just three states Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. The large majority of Amish live in rural areas. The total Amish population is estimated at 14,000, but only adults are counted as full church members.





II. History


The Amish people are direct descendants of the Anabaptists of sixteenth century Europe. Anabaptism is a religion that came about during thePlease note that this sample paper on The Amish is for your review only. In order to eliminate any of the plagiarism issues, it is highly recommended that you do not use it for you own writing purposes. In case you experience difficulties with writing a well structured and accurately composed paper on The Amish, we are here to assist you. Your persuasive essay on The Amish will be written from scratch, so you do not have to worry about its originality.

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