An Evangelical Reorientation: The Contribution of Beachy Amish-Mennonite Mothers

Mothering Mennonite
Edited by Rachel Epp Buller and Kerry Fast.
Bradford, ON: Demeter Press.

Anderson, Cory. 2013.

Pp. 236-55

Research Points
  • When an ethnic sectarian group experiences theological shifts, such as the Beachy Amish-Mennonite gravitation toward evangelical Christianity, gender roles and women’s responsibilities are reorganized in consequential ways.

  • Both the Old Amish and Beachy Amish-Mennonite wife/mother role is responsible for organizing the domestic environment and addressing family members’ physical and emotional needs.

  • While domestic success reflects religious devotion, rapid religious/social changes in Beachy churches have strained the relationship between home and church. The church is more likely seen as competing with the family for time and energy rather than integrating with it, as is more common among Old Amish.

  • Given rapid church changes, Beachy mothers may be socializing children toward an uncertain future rather than mere reproduction of the present church’s practice and organization, as more likely with Old Amish. This severs childrearing from church integration, disrupting intergenerational continuity.

  • Compared to the patriarchal organization of Old Amish, Beachys’ evangelicalism has expanded women’s formal religious responsibilities (e.g. teaching Sunday School) but also introduced more individualism, fragmenting community identity and heightening women’s isolation from role- based support networks.

  • Some women seek to slow the pace of change and maintain community-based stability, while others accept greater individual autonomy.

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