Having written fictional series about Amish, Mennonites and Quakers I am sometimes asked about the differences between those who follow the lifestyle and faith of the Amish and those who are Quaker. Always wanting to consider the similarities in the diversity that makes up this world, let me start there.
Both Quakers/Friends and Amish believe in one God and both are devoutly non-violent and peace loving people. Neither group believes in war and both will go out of their way to avoid conflict in any form. Each has what most Christian groups would consider a non-traditional style of worship—Quakers ‘meet’ for worship in homes or plain buildings with none of the trappings one might find in a more traditional church—no steeple or pulpit or organ or choir (although they do enjoy singing). The Amish meet in member homes and may choose the service leader by a process that is as simple as placing a small paper in a hymnal or Bible and having the candidates for service leader each choose a book. The one whose book contains the paper is the chosen one.
Perhaps most importantly both share a strong belief in the power of community. For the Amish that belief in the importance of the community over the individual may be at the very root of their restrictions against modern conveniences such as automobiles and telephones. Any modern convenience that takes away from their reliance on community is suspect. For Friends the sense of community extends well beyond the circle of faith to include outreach programs to anyone in need. For example after WWI, it was the Friends who went into Germany to set up food kitchens after the country was devastated and defeated.
Differences include the fact that the Religious Society of Friends originated in England while the Amish/Anabaptist movement began in Switzerland. The Quaker faith is considered to be far more liberal than is the Amish faith. Quakers believe that every person has a direct connection to God (sometimes called the Light) while Amish do not believe in infant baptism. Quakers conduct their ‘meeting for worship’ in silence; Amish hear scripture and a sermon. The Amish wear the traditional ‘plain’ garb they have worn for generations while Quakers have abandoned their habit of dressing ‘plainly.’
Bottom line? The things they share in common are far more significant than the things that set them apart from each other. Both are peaceable people trying to make this world a better place.
Anna Schmidt has been a finalist for the coveted RITA award three times for her romantic fiction and her novel A Sister’s Forgiveness gives Anna her fourth finalist honor for the Reviewers’ Choice Awards from Romantic Times magazine. Anna is the author of over twenty-five works of historical and contemporary fiction including her most recent Amish release, The Women of Pinecraft, which hit shelves on June 1st. The final installment in her Peacemakers series, Safe Haven, was published in August of 2014.
Having survived her own battle with uterine cancer and discovered wellsprings of compassion and caring she never knew she possessed when family members and friends faced their own health challenges, Anna often draws on the questions she has faced in her own life in creating her characters. She also loves gardening and she’s hauled enough seashells home from the Florida beaches that somewhere in the future, archeologists may believe there must have once been an ocean in Wisconsin!
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