How Bishops Are Chosen In The Amish Community


By Tobin Dimmitt


How Bishops Are Chosen In The Amish CommunityThe bishop is considered the leader and head of the Amish church ministry. Some of their responsibilities include sermon creations, reading scriptures, counseling residents in the community, baptizing and even handing out disciplinary actions to those who stray from the ordnung. It’s certainly not a glamorous role by any means, but the bishop is an integral piece in the Amish community. Using their leadership and wisdom, the bishop will guide the community towards the most appropriate path. But how is someone chosen for such an overwhelmingly huge responsibility?



The Amish ministry consists of bishops at the top along with ministers and deacons underneath. Ministers’ responsibilities include preaching and helping the bishop when necessary. They’ll aid by visiting homes, acquiring tools, and even offering advice to the bishop. This is the same structure that’s been used by the church for over a century, so it’s doubtful this will chance any time soon.



The Truth About Bishops…


Although they are placed in high esteem within the Amish community, most people do not want to take over the role of bishop. When there’s only a single bishop in a community of thousands, you can expect to stay pretty busy. Some of the Bishop’s time will be spent helping to guide residents back on the right religious path, while other times they will discipline individuals for bad behavior. Most Amish residents are naturally laid back and easy going, so they typically don’t enjoy handing out discipline. Of course, this is still a necessary practice in the Amish community based on their religion.



Choosing a Bishop


There’s no set time for choosing a bishop. If people in the community are happy with the current bishop, then he will likely remain in place. If they feel like a new bishop needs to take over, however, they will take a vote to determine who it will be. Voting for a new bishop can only take place during a communion, and there are usually two communions each year in most settlements.


The voting process is pretty simple: all of the religious leaders are brought into the church to vote on the new bishop. Each vote is tallied and counted at the end. Next, a verse is written down on a piece of paper before placing it in a single hymnbook. The number of hymnbooks is equal to the amount of bishop nominees with three or more votes. The hymnbook containing the verse is secreted shuffled around so no one knows where it is. Finally, all of the nominees are given a hymnbook and the person with the written verse in theirs is named the bishop.


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