Becoming a minister of the Amish faith is a lifelong commitment and not to be taken lightly.
One of the most important aspects of the Amish religion is the selection of an Amish minister. This holds true whether you are discussing the Illinois Amish country or the Pennsylvania Amish area.
Amish ministers are not men who have gone through seminary or college to become a minister. They are regular church members that have been "chosen" to become ministers. The Amish don't hold votes or volunteer to become ministers. It is chosen through a lot method. This method of choosing a Amish minister comes from Acts 1:23-26 where lots were cast to decide which person would replace Judas as one of the twelve apostles.
There are only a few times when a Amish church must choose a new minister. The main two occurrences are when a minister passes away or when a church district becomes too large and must split into two smaller districts. When time arises that a new minister must be chosen there is an announcement in church given two weeks before the nominations are given in order to give church members time to meditate and pray. No discussion is to be made between people that are to be nominated.
The Sunday comes when nominations are to be held. The Amish congregation holds their regular communion service following which the nominations begin. Chapter 3 of I Timothy is read to the congregation which discusses the character a man must have in order to hold the position of minister in the Amish church. Immediately after the reading the bishop of the district and other ordained men retreat to a private room. All members of the church will proceed to the room and whisper the name of the man they feel should become the new minister of the Amish church.
After all of the nominations have been made the bishop returns back to the front of the church and announces all of the Amish men who have been nominated. All of the men who received three or more votes become candidates for the lot. Usually there is six to a dozen Amish men who fall into this category.
A large table is set out in the front of the congregation and on that table there is an equal amount of hymnals to the amount of men that are candidates. Each hymnal is bound with a rubber band and in one of the hymnals is a piece of paper reading "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposal thereof is of the Lord" (Proverbs 16:33). The men come up one by one from oldest to youngest and select a hymnal off of the table. The Amish man who opens the hymnal and finds the piece of paper with the proverb written on it is the new minister of the church.
Becoming an Amish minister is a great responsibility and is usually a job for life. By using the lot method the Amish feel it is God's choice on who will lead the congregation. Each Amish male is expected to be able to become a minister when they become a member of the Amish religion and he will not be baptized unless he is willing to fill the position should the need arise.
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