For the vast majority of Old Order Amish, church services are held in private homes. The practice of home worship is a remnant of the early days of the Amish religion when they were persecuted and forced to go underground (not literally, but figuratively).
📜 History of Amish Community Buildings
To this day, most Amish worship in their homes so that such persecution can never be repeated. In a few locales, however, the Amish have begun adopting use of church buildings (Unity, Maine, for instance, and Oakland, Maryland).
In other places, the worship is still done at home but "community buildings" are gaining in popularity for large gatherings and events in the Amish church. As the church has grown in size over the years and Amish homesteads and gotten smaller (more people, but less land), huge gatherings at someone's house has become increasingly difficult in some cases.
Sometimes an Amish settlement has an ice cream social or a potluck or a community safety meeting and expecting one family to host 500 people is impractical. That's where these community buildings come in handy.
🏗️ Amish Community Building Uses
This is one such community building that the Amish in the Crofton, Kentucky community use. One such use in Crofton is serving monthly meals to the community as a fund-raiser for church needs. Such multi-use facilities have sprung up in Amish communities like the Wheat Ridge, Ohio settlement, some in northern Indiana, and elsewhere.
Community buildings are used for things as diverse as potlucks to school events, and wedding meals. Other uses:
- Church functions: While in most Amish communities worship services are held in homes, there are other religious events that are held in these facilities like weddings and funeral visitations.
- Meetings: Community buildings are also used for meetings of the Amish church, as well as for other community events, such as barn raisings and quilting bees. If there is a meeting that has urgency to it like to discuss disease outbreak or a public safety issue, people can gather here.
- Social gatherings: Community buildings are a place where Amish people can gather for social events, such as potluck dinners, ice cream socials, and holiday celebrations.
- Storage: Community buildings can also be used for storage of tools, equipment, and other supplies.
Most Amish community buildings that I have seen have kitchen facilities so that food can be cooked or warmed up and there are an assortment of utinsels.
📷 Pictures of Amish Community Buildings
An Amish community building in Conneautville, Pennsylvania. Church gatherings like potlucks are commonly held.
It seems like the community buildings are more common in New Order Amish settlements, but they have caught on in some Old Order churches as well. This is a benefit auction being held inside the Wheat Ridge Amish Community Building in Adams County, Ohio.
The Wheat Ridge Amish community use their community building for auctions, benefit suppers, and the popular annual Amish Birding Symposium, which brings in speakers and birders from throughout the USA.
🙋 FAQ Amish Community Buildings
While there are exceptions, they are rare. Most of the time, worship services themselves are still held in private Amish homes. These buildings usually are held for community events.
Most of these facilities usually include some restrooms, a kitchen, some storage rooms, with the bulk of the space being for gathering. So you have a big open space and plenty of folding tables and chairs to accommodate hundreds of people.