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Touring the Countryside
DISCOVER THE UNIQUE CULTURE OF THE AMISH COMMUNITIES
On the Mercer County border is one of the country’s largest Old Order Amish communities. Journey to a simpler era and learn about the Amish experience. Stroll through the quaint villages of New Wilmington and Volant weaving your way through authentic Amish shops.

AMISH
Who are the Amish? Are they the same as Pennsylvania Dutch? The Amish are a religious group who live in settlements in 22 states and Ontario, Canada. The oldest group of Old Order Amish, about 16-18,000 people live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Amish stress humility, family and community, and separation from the world.

Although Lancaster Amish are Pennsylvania Dutch, all Pennsylvania Dutch are not Amish. The Pennsylvania Dutch are natives of Central Pennsylvania, particularly Lancaster and its surrounding counties. Unlike the Amish, they are not all one religion. Instead, their common bond is a mainly German background (Pennsylvania Dutch is actually Pennsylvania Deutsch, or German). They also have Welsh, English, Scottish, Swiss, and French ancestry.

What is the history of the Amish? The Amish have their roots in the Mennonite community. Both were part of the early Anabaptist movement in Europe, which took place at the time of the Reformation. The Anabaptists believed that only adults who had confessed their faith should be baptized, and that they should remain separate from the larger society. Many early Anabaptists were put to death as heretics by both Catholics and Protestants, and many others fled to the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany. Here began the Amish tradition of≥ farming and holding their worship services in homes rather than churches.

In 1536, a young Catholic priest from Holland named Menno Simons joined the Anabaptist movement. His writings and leadership united many of the Anabaptist groups, who were nicknamed "Mennonites." In 1693, a Swiss bishop named Jacob Amman broke from the Mennonite church. His followers were called the "Amish." Although the two groups have split several times, the Amish and Mennonite churches still share the same beliefs concerning baptism, non-resistance, and basic Bible doctrines. They differ in matters of dress, technology, language, form of worship, and interpretation of the Bible.

The Amish and Mennonites both settled in Pennsylvania as part of William Penn's "holy experiment" of religious tolerance. The first sizable group of Amish arrived in Lancaster County in the 1720's or 1730's.


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