The Amish is a group of followers of traditionalist Christian Church fellowship, whose origin is linked with the Swiss Anabaptist idea. In this sense they are closer to Mennonite churches. The Amish people believe in simplistic living and they are often identified for their reluctance to use the technological amenities useful for day to day life. They came into existence as a result of a schism that was experienced in the Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists, in the year 1693. The membership of Amish church starts with baptism, between 16 to 25 years of age. If any member of this community fails to conform to its principles, and decides against repenting, then he or she is excommunicated.
The Amish society has 1800 or so church districts, in the 28 states of the USA and Canada. In the Church, congregation is more important than the elaborate hierarchical structure which is so often the characteristic feature of the church. At the top of the order stood the Amish Bishop, followed by the Amish minister, and the Amish deacon. Here is this social hierarchical structure in some details.
- The Amish Bishop- The Amish Bishop is the head of his respective church district. Being the head of the administrative set up of the church, ordaining new minister in the fold of the church structure is his responsibility, along with baptizing and maintaining the discipline of the church. He is also supposed to maintain the order of peace and decorum in the church. However, the Amish Bishop does not perform his duties arbitrarily. Even though he is the spiritual head of the order, he needs to consult with the Ministry. He also makes sure if the curch need any kind of change.The Bishop also does the most of the preaching that is done in the church. He is also the person to which the community can seek forgiveness and obtain it. He is also entitled to perform marriage ceremonies apart from the baptizing ceremony. He is also against changes especially the technological changes that prevail in the society.
- The Amish minister(s)- In every Amish Church there is the Amish minister, who is ranked second in order of importance of the church structure. Generally each district of the church has 2 to 3 ordained ministers, who are also supposed to preach. They interact with general people and mostly have a post of high respect. Ministers from other districts too can visit during a sermon. The ministers are looked upon as role models for the youth.
- The Amish Deacon- The Amish deacon also occupies an important post in the church structure. Their responsibility lies in enhancing the spiritual well being of the members of the church in the district. They take part in the meetings with Bishop and the ministers in order to discuss the need to have technological advances in regular life. Generally the Deacon does not preach but he can read the Holy Scripture.
Thus it can be seen that the Amish church also have hierarchical structure which helps in its functioning.