About the author


Hi, my name is Kevin Williams and I am owner of Oasis Newsfeatures and editor of The Amish Cook newspaper column.

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  1. bigkool

    I just added this blog to my google reader, great stuff. Cannot get enough!

  2. Dan Holsinger

    Hello Kevin,

    there is an article about Lobelville, mostly written by myself at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Believers_in_Christ,_Lobelville

    The community at Lobelville was founded in 1973.

    G.C. Waldrep describes Lobelville and other “para-Amish” groups in this very interesting article: : The New Order Amish And Para-Amish Groups: Spiritual Renewal Within Tradition, in The Mennonite Quarterly Review 82 (2008).

    1. Kevin

      Dan, interesting, thank you for sharing. I think I had read the Mennonite Quarterly Review piece, but not the Wikipedia one…how did you become familiar with Lobelville? I first encountered them in Pearisburg and then this past summer met a handful of families in Ohio that also fellowship with them

      1. Dan Holsinger

        I’m very much interested in unusual Old Order communities, which are not just traditional, but rather “intentionalist minded”, that is communities that try to find out in a deliberate way what’s the the best form to live an Old Order Christian live, without mainly living according to the tradition of their group.

        The Noah Hoover Mennonites and the Orthodox Mennonites, as well as the “Christian Communities” of Elmo Stoll and the “Caneyville Christian Community” are such groups.

        Peter Hoover describes very vividly this radical Anabaptist milieu in his long article “Radical Anabaptists Today”. This online article is very interesting but a little difficult to read, because it is more or less written for insiders.

        When I was trying to find out more of these communities, I came across “Lobelville” again and again. What the heck is “Lobelville”, I asked myself. So I gathered all information I could find to write the Wikipedia article.

        The Lobelville community is one of the oldest of these “intentionalist minded” communities and it seems to be quite stable. Other comparable communities mostly did not survive.

        The Noah Hoovers and the Orthodox Mennonites are the other two of these more or less not just traditional groups, that survived. Both look extremely Plain and conservative concerning technology, similar to the Swartzentruber, but their mindset is quite different. Their “firm Biblicism, intense spirituality, and high morals standards have had a wide appeal” states the Anabaptist writer Stephen Scott.

        The Noah Hoovers and the Orthodox Mennonites could not just rely on tradition because both have a very complicated history of splits and mergers between different groups, so they had to choose which rules and traditions they would follow.

        As you may know the New Order Amish, that are in some ways similar to the groups I described above, are not really successful. Most of their local congregations are shrinking, only few are stable or growing.

        The article of G.C. Waldrep “The New Order Amish And Para-Amish Groups: Spiritual Renewal Within Tradition” partly describes that.

        For me these fringe groups are the key to “the riddle of Amish culture” as Kaybill calls it. His book was my “entrance” to this question, that since then has gripped me.

      2. Kevin

        Dan, I kept meaning to thank you for this fascinating post. I agree with you that the key to the riddle is/are these “edge groups” as I sometimes call them. I need to make it to Lobelville one of these days. I find these “edge groups” very “organic” and sort of a compelling gateway between mainstream society and the amish.

        You make an interesting point about the New Order Amish not growing much….I hadn’t given that much thought, but you are probably correct. I wonder why that is?

    2. Eleah Anz

      My sister is a member of this group! Could they be considered among the “intentional” movement with Plain circles?

      1. Kevin

        Hi, Eleah, thanks for the comment, how long has your sister been a part of the group?

  3. John Hostetler

    Interesting article, and fairly accurate. I used to be a former member of the Lobelville Amish (most of my family is part of the group) Mary Nisley is my double first cousin, we grew up in the same area in Knox County Ohio. Since then I have moved to Alabama and am no longer associated with them though we do go back to visit occasionally.

    1. Kevin

      Thanks so much for stopping by, John….maybe when my life isn’t so hectic (I have a 2 and a 5-year-old, the holidays approaching, numerous work deadlines) I’d love to send you an email maybe getting more detail. What, though, if you have a sec, do you think is the biggest different between the Lobelville Amish and the traditional Old Orders?


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