Video Tour of Unity, Maine Amish Settlement
Maine is not a state synonymous with the Amish. But over the past decade or so a few settlements have been established in the state. The rural, rugged land and independent attitudes of Mainers have proven to be welcoming for the Amish. As of this writing there are three Amish settlements in Maine that I am aware of: Smyrna, Fort Fairfield, and Unity. The Smyrna and Unity settlements share ties. Unity is actually what is called a "daughter" settlement of Smyrna. Smyrna is a daughter settlement of Lindsay, Ontario, and Lindsay is a daughter of Aylmer, Ontario. The way it was explained to me is that the Amish in these communities don't want several church districts bunched together as is typically the case. These Amish want their communities to serve as "beacons" in various places. While the Amish don't traditionally evangelize, some Amish do like to "serve as witnesses" or "lead by example." So while they maybe won't reach out and try to convert, they want their communities to serve as positive examples to outsiders. Unity does not have its own bishop yet, the settlement is not large enough, so the bishop in Smyrna also is in charge of Unity. Once Unity becomes firmly established and of sufficient size, they'll have their own bishop and then will begin to explore creating a daughter settlement somewhere else. Other unusual attributes of the Maine Amish: they do worship in a formal church building, unlike most Amish that worship in their homes. Also, the men in these communities do often wear mustaches. Mustaches have traditionally been frowned up by Amish men because of their alleged association with military service. But as one Amish man here told me "we don't frown upon other Amish who feel that way, but we don't think a mustache has any military meaning." In other ways, these Amish are quite traditional. They travel by horse and buggy and, of course, don't have electricity. Click here to watch my quick video documentary of this Maine settlement known for their potatoes and blueberries.