Amersham Evening Townswomen’s Guild
OUR meeting began with the usual business and sub section news, and was then followed by three members presenting their ideas for our charity for next year 2016. Each person gave a short talk on their reasons for their choice and a paper vote was taken to choose the most popular. Amersham Museum was chosen, and fundraising will begin early next year.
Our two main speakers this month were on varying forms of belief, for the Social Studies it was a visit from Steve West who is chairman of the local Humanist group. He explained he had become a Humanist in later life having rejected the idea of a superior being, afterlife and supernatural events.
He said he was also a pacifist and many of his ideas were more about the way his life was led than against Christianity or other older religions, his views caused much discussion.
The second speaker at our main meeting was Jenny Thorne, a TG member of another guild and Member of the National Executive Committee, her subject was The Amish, a very strict religious sect. They broke away from the Mennonites who came from Switzerland to follow a man called Joseph Amon who wanted stricter rules than those in the Mennonites.
He asked them to follow ‘The Ordnung’ a new set of ideas to live by, including wearing very plain homemade clothes, with no ornamentation, not even buttons, except for the men’s working jackets.
In later years they have been allowed to use Velcro for fastenings. They are not allowed to cut their hair, and must cover their heads in public, men are allowed to have beards but not moustaches as they are deemed to be too military, and they are pacifist.
Their main livelihood is farming, and they have no tractors and use horses to plough, many have large dairy herds and a few have hand operated generators for the milking parlour. There is no regular education, and when the girls are in their teens they have to learn to all the household chores, the boys stay in classes longer and then become farm hands.
The community goes to bed from dusk‘til dawn, so it is not surprising they have very large families! The young people can only get married in November, a quiet time on farms, and move into their own houses in the following spring, the wives are expected to be completely submissive to their husbands.
The whole regime of the Amish is around complete humility, no one better than another, no use of mirrors or photographs is allowed and even their dolls have no facial features, it is all a far cry from our idea of life, but maintains a lot of members even today, about 250,000 in the USA alone.
We will be having our festive eats and drinks event for the charity on December 6, the choir will be singing in the Federation Carol Concert in Maidenhead on December 12 followed by our Christmas party on December 15 at the Free Church, this is a member’s only evening.