This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Old Order Movement is a religious movement to preserve the old ways of Anabaptist religion and lifestyle. Historically, it emerged in the second half of the 19th century among the Amish, Mennonites of South German and Swiss ancestry as well as the Schwarzenau Brethren in the United States and Canada. The movement led to several Old Order divisions from mainstream Anabaptist groups between 1845 and 1901. All Old Order groups that emerged after 1901 divided from established Old Order groups or were formed by people coming from different Old Order groups. The highly conservative Old Colony Mennonites and the Hutterites were not directly connected to this movement.
Sandra L. Cronk writes about the Old Order Movement:
The Old Order Amish and the Old Order Mennonites [...] are not premodern relics from a bygone era. The Old Order movement is a conscious attempt to maintain a style of Christian living based on principles different from those of the larger society.
Belief and practice
Old Order groups do not have seminary trained pastors and never developed written sophisticated theology. Many practices among the Old Orders stem from the biblical principle of nonconformity to the world, according to Romans 12:2 and other Bible verses.
The avoidance of technologies by Old Order communities is based not on a belief that the technology is in some way evil, but over a concern for the nature of their communities. Community is important to members of Old Order groups, and a technology or practice is rejected if it would adversely affect it. This means that the prohibitions are not usually absolute; a member who would not own a car may use a car or other modern transport if a pressing need arises. This basis also means that Old Orders see no contradiction in having electricity in their milking barn, since that is necessary to comply with regulations on milk cooling, but not in their house.
Other aspects of Old Order life are concerned with plainness, which dictates their distinctive dress. Plain to Old Orders is the opposite of showy or ostentatious, and is considered a virtue. It is based on the belief that a person's true worth does not lie in their clothes or appearance.
Nonresistance is a belief held by all Old Order groups.
- A capella singing
- Believer's baptism
- Fermented wine in communion
- Foot washing
- Holy Kiss
- Kneeling for prayer
- Multiple ministers lead in worship
- Ordination of leaders by lot
- Segregation by sex during worship
- Self-examination before communion
Buggies and cars
All Amish Old Order groups are horse and buggy groups, including the New Order Amish. Among the Old Order Mennonites, there are both horse and buggy and car driving groups. The same is true for the Old Orders among the Schwarzenau Brethren. The Old Order River Brethren are a car driving group, except a small subgroup of about half a dozen members, that still use horse and buggy transportation.
All Amish Old Order groups speak a German dialect in every day life, either Pennsylvania German, or one of two Alemannic dialects (Swiss Amish). Among the Old Order Mennonites, all horse and buggy groups, except the Virginia groups, speak Pennsylvania German. The car driving groups of Old Order Mennonites shifted to English in the second half of the 20th century. The groups from which the Old Order Schwarzenau Brethren and Old Order River Brethren split, had already started shifting to English in the 19th century and mostly completed it in the first half of the 20th century.
There are about 300,000 Old Order Amish, 60,000 to 80,000 Old Order Mennonites, about 7,000 Old Order Brethren and about 350 Old Order River Brethren. The Amish and Mennonite Old Orders have growth rates between 3 and 5 percent a year, in average about 3.7 percent. Old Order Schwarzenau and River Brethren groups in contrast have low growth rates and were even shrinking during the 20th century. All English speaking groups tend to grow much slower than their German speaking brothers.
The Old Orders comprise the following groups:
- Amish (selection of affiliations; there are some 40 major affiliations, partly with subgroups, and more than 100 unaffiliated congregations)
- Nebraska Amish, the most conservative of all Old Order groups, emerged in 1881 as a split from the Byler Amish
- Swartzentruber Amish, largest very conservative group, emerged between 1913–1917
- Swiss Amish, two different groups, speak two different Alemannic dialects instead of Pennsylvania German
- Buchanan Amish, most spread out affiliation, emerged in 1914
- Andy Weaver Amish, relatively conservative, emerged in 1952
- Troyer Amish, emerged in 1932 as a split from the Swartzentrubers
- Byler Amish, a very early split, emerged in 1849
- Renno Amish, a quite conservative group, emerged in 1863
- Holmes Old Order Amish, second largest Amish affiliation
- Elkhart-LaGrange Amish, third largest Amish affiliation
- Lancaster Amish, largest Amish affiliation, relatively liberal
- Michigan Churches, emerged in the 1970s, in many aspects similar to the New Order Amish
- New Order Amish, emerged in the 1960s, the most liberal among the Amish Old Orders
- Old Order Mennonites (groups with more than 300 members)
- Groffdale Conference Mennonite Church, largest horse and buggy group, emerged 1927 in Pennsylvania as a split from the Weaverland Mennonite Conference
- Weaverland Mennonite Conference, largest car diving group, emerged in 1893, allowed cars in the mid 1920s
- Ontario Mennonite Conference, largest horse and buggy group in Canada, emerged 1889
- Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference, largest car driving group in Canada, emerged 1939 as a division from the Ontario Mennonite Conference
- Stauffer Mennonite, oldest Old Order group, emerged in 1845
- Ohio-Indiana Mennonite Conference, merged in 1872, now a car driving group
- Orthodox Mennonites, emerged in 1958, a merger of several very conservative groups
- Noah Hoover Mennonite, emerged in 1963 through a long process that started in 1940s, concerning technology the most restricted of all groups
- David Martin Mennonites, emerged in 1917, the most isolated from other Old Order groups, do not talk about their belief with outsiders
- Virginia Old Order Mennonite Conference, emerged in 1901, the latest Old Order split from a mainstream group
- Reidenbach Old Order Mennonites, emerged in 1942 as a split from the Groffdale Conference, divided in very small endogamous subgroups
- John Dan Wenger Mennonites, emerged in 1952/53 as a split from the Virginia Old Order Mennonites
- Schwarzenau Brethren
- Old German Baptist Brethren, emerged 1881, the largest Old Order group of the Schwarzenau Brethren and more liberal than the following three groups
- Old Brethren, emerged 1913, a bit more conservative than the Old German Baptist Brethren but in many aspects similar to them
- Old Order German Baptist Brethren, emerged 1921, a horse and buggy group that uses tractors for field work
- Old Brethren German Baptists, emerged 1939, a horse and buggy group that uses horses also for field work, the most conservative group
- Old German Baptist Brethren, New Conference, emerged 2009, a more liberal split from the Old German Baptist Brethren
- Old Order River Brethren, emerged 1856, divided in three subgroups, mostly car driving, the only Old Orders among the River Brethren.
- Para-Amish groups
- Believers in Christ, Lobelville, emerged in 1973 when members of different Old Order groups formed a new one
- Vernon Community, Hestand, emerged in 1996 as a split from the Believers in Christ, Lobelville
- Caneyville Christian Community, emerged in 2004 when members of different Old Order groups formed a new one
- Donald B. Kraybill, Carl Bowman: On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren, Baltimore and London, 2001, pages 10-11.
- Donald B. Kraybill: Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites, Baltimore 2010, page 158.
- Sandra L. Cronk: A Network of Loving, Caring Relationships in John A. Hostetler (editor): Amish Roots: A Treasury of History, Wisdom, and Lore, Baltimore and London, 1989, page 286.
- Donald B. Kraybill, Carl Bowman: On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren, Baltimore and London, 2001, page 201.
- Stephen Scott: Why Do They Dress That Way, Intercourse, PA 1986.
- Donald B. Kraybill: Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites, Baltimore, 2010, page 247.
- Stephen Scott: Plain Buggies: Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren Horse-drawn Transportation, Intercourse, PA 1981.