Amish Gma

No, it's not Good Morning America as some suggested. Gma (pronounced G-maay) is their word for church. You’ll see a reference to this in Appendix C of my book. Mosie lived with us for a year and during that time he explained many Amish words and traditions to me.

From him and frequent contact with other ex-Amish of the Old or Swartzentruber Order, I learned that obeying the Ordnung (rule book), conforming to tradition, and submission to parents make them worthy of God’s favor and Heaven. His Swartzentruber order considers Englishers hopelessly doomed because they weren’t born Amish.

“So what was your church like?” I asked Mosie one day.

“We go every other Sunday to an Amish home but rotate homes. Sometimes it’s in a barn. The men and boys go in first, and most put their hats under the bench; following them are the women and girls. 

They sit on opposite sides on hard wooden benches without backs. All the men on one side and women on the other. We sing in German. The sermon’s in German. Our Bibles are in German. Sometimes the preacher doesn’t know what he’s saying ‘cause it’s in German; he just says what’s printed. I always slept or looked around. The deacon was always watching us over the top of his glasses.”
“Did you understand the German songs or sermon?”


“How long are your church services?”

“Three to four hours.”

“What? That’s long and must be boring for children. What if you have to go to the bathroom?”

“Oh, we were allowed to go outside for fifteen minutes. I usually stayed out for half an hour.”

“What were you doing for half an hour?”

“Smoking with the other boys.”

(c)Copyright 2013, Brenda Nixon.


  1. Thank you for the insight into the Amish world. I had no idea how their religion worked. I'm looking forward to learning more in the upcoming weeks!

  2. It's a fascinating culture, and I applaud you for helping others understand the freedom and grace of the Christian faith.

  3. I'm looking forward to reading about how--and when--Mosie grasped the concept of salvation by grace, instead of believing that salvation comes from merely following tradition and the Ordnung (ordinance letter). Mosie must have been quite surprised to realize there are "English" people (those other than Amish) who love God and live for Him while also experiencing the true freedom of the gospel.

  4. Thanks for this peek into Amish culture and for opening your home to those leaving the order. How sad to hear these young people are cut off from the truth of the Bible because of a language barrier.

  5. looking foward to more of your writing and experiences! Thanks

  6. Thank you Brenda for this blog! I feel it will explain so much to so many people. And hopefully, more will come to the Lord.

    Lane Jordan

  7. Fascinating ~ as well as so sad! :( Thank you for this insight. God Bless the Amish, and may doors be opened that many more will come to see His grace and loving kindness.

    1. Thanks for reading & for leaving your comment Michele. It warms my heart that you "get it" you are developing a spiritual compassion for these people. Like any society, there's good/bad, kind/mean, strict/liberal - not all Americans are represented by the TV show Honey Boo Boo or Duck Dynasty.
      I hope to post more stories in the coming month so stay tuned. And always feel free to ask questions. I was privileged to ask intimate questions & learn tons of particular details when Mosie lived with us for a year. He's a great guy (that's my Mom's opinion).