One of my earliest acquaintances with the “Plain People” wasn’t with the Amish, it was with the German Baptists who live in large numbers just to the west of my hometown. I met many while I was writing a feature story about them for The Middletown Journal when I was a young reporter back in 1991. With their plain dress, women’s head-coverings, and bearded men, locals around here often mistook them for Amish, but their religion is actually rooted in a whole different movement. The German Baptists don’t have much sociologically in common with the Amish and while it’s not unusual for Amish and Mennonites to go back and forth between faiths, there is very little “cross-traffic” among the Amish and GBs. German Baptists celebrate services in a plain meetinghouse like this one near New Carlisle, Ohio instead of home worship like the Amish.
The annual conference of the Old German Baptist Brethren as they are formally called (informally known as Dunkers because of their practice of triple full-body immersion at baptism) was held in Virginia over the holiday weekend. I would love to attend some time and report back to all of you. But the local paper in Franklin County, Virginia did a pretty good job of setting the scene this year. Read about the conference here.