Thursday, July 7, 2016


Amish and Mennonite:
more alike and more different than you may think

by Amy Lillard
A writer’s life is filled with “What Ifs?” What if an Amish woman discovers her father has a tattoo? (Lorie’s Heart) What if the bishop’s daughter’s long-standing love interest decides he wants to experience the English world? (Courting Emily) What if a wealthy heiress hides out on an Amish farm? (Saving Gideon) This is exactly how my latest novel Just Plain Sadie came about. What if an Amish woman falls in love with a Mennonite man?
               Just Plain Sadie is my seventh Amish book and though research into such a complex group of people is never-ending, I have to admit that I don’t know nearly as much about the Mennonites. Mostly the basics: that the Mennonites broke from the Amish over shunning way back when, now some drive cars and have electricity. But upon delving further I discovered that the Mennonites are more varied than even the Amish.
               Last year on my trip to Pennsylvania I met a Mennonite man at Roots Market. After talking with him a bit, I realized that he and his church were much more conservative than even my Old Order Lancaster friends. See, he had loaned me a cart to haul my books and things from the car and when it was time to go, I offered him a book as a thank you. He wouldn’t even touch it because he said it looked like a romance novel. Their church didn’t allow their members to read romance novels. My Lancaster Amish friends not only read my books, they help me get the details correct! Intriguing…
               The Mennonites run the gamut between ultraconservative, driving a horse and buggy, wearing prayer kapps and homemade clothes, to very modern, you might not even know the person sitting next to you in the dentist office waiting area is a Mennonite. I have a Mennonite friend whose profile pic on Facebook (yes, he has a Facebook) is of him and his wife wearing NFL jerseys. More than the issue of shunning separates the Mennonites from the Amish.
               Interestingly enough, though the Mennonites in general are considered less conservative than the Amish (though you can see from my Roots encounter that this is not necessarily the case), they are adamant when it comes to following rules.  It’s as if the leadership believes, “we have given you this. Be thankful and don’t push the boundaries.”
               I’ve heard countless stories of how the Amish ‘get around’ certain aspects of their Ordnung.  Can’t have a windshield on your buggy? Wrap it in visqueen. Can’t have rubber tires? Replace the wheels with another, acceptable kind. Can only have a phone in the barn? Move the second receiver into the house (plugged into solar power, of course).
               These differences in attitudes toward the rules and how best to follow them became a source of conflict between Sadie and her Mennonite interest, Ezra Hein. Add in a longtime boyfriend who wants to travel and a mother who can’t quite let go and that’s Just Plain Sadie.
               As with the Amish, research into the Mennonite culture could last a lifetime. And maybe I’ll take the reader back to Taylor Creek and the Mennonites of Oklahoma one day.

               What about you? Have you had any experience with the Mennonite culture? Were they conservative? Modern? Or somewhere in between? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your stories!
Thank you so much to Amy Lillard for guest posting today!  Also, thank you to Amy for giving me an autographed copy of her Amish novel, Just Plain Sadie to giveaway to one lucky reader.  Just make sure you comment on this blog before midnight, Thursday July 7th to enter.  Be sure to include your email address or name to identify yourself in your comment.  Good luck to all and I will post the winner's name tomorrow.


  1. How interesting! I grew up Mennonite. I don't read many Amish novels, but when I do it amuses me to read how an "outsider" portrays the plain world. And yes you are correct, there are many different stripes out there. The Amish, Mennonite leaders in my opinion misinterpret Jesus words to Peter,"what you shall bind in earth shall be bound in heaven". They take those words to mean that if a leader makes a rule you are in rebellion to God if you don't obey. But you can join a church that doesn't have that rule and be perfectly OK with God.

    1. Thanks, Dawn. That is very interesting indeed! :) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I live in Washington state and have seen modern Mennonites (yes, I wouldn't know they were Mennonite if I didn't actually know them).

    1. Thanks, Christine. It's amazing to me how different they all are!

  3. Oops - cmcfaithingod(at)gmail(dot)com :-)