Old Order Amish is an American term that came about in an attempt to describe those who resisted innovations both in society and church work. A series of conferences held in Ohio from 1862 to 1878 resulted in marking clear differences between the conservative and progressive Amish.
The Old Order Amish are distinguished from the Beachy Amish and the New Order Amish by their strict adherence to the use of horses for farming and transportation, their traditional manner of dress, and their refusal to allow electricity or telephones in their homes. The Old Order Amish is the concept many outsiders have when they think of Amish.
In 1990 Old Order Amish settlements existed in 20 states in the United States and in one province in Canada. Membership was estimated at over 80,000 in almost 900 church districts. By 2002 there were over 1200 districts. According to sociologist Julia Erickson, of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Amish are among the fastest-growing populations in the world. Old Order Amish groups include the Byler group, Nebraska Amish in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, the Renno group, and the Swartzendruber Amish in Holmes County, Ohio. Pathway Publishing Company of Aylmer, Ontario is the major publisher of Amish material.
Old Order Amish subscribe to the Dordrecht Confession of Faith, a Dutch Mennonite Confession of Faith adopted in 1632. Doctrinally they are similar to other Swiss Mennonites, but show the influence of the Dutch Mennonites. They practice shunning of excommunicated members, and emphasize that a person can only hope to be saved, and that it is a form of pride to claim the assurance of salvation. Feet washing is observed twice annually, in connection with the Communion. Non-resistance, including refusal of military service in any form, is a standard practice.
The Old Order Amish do not build church houses, but rather meet in private homes. Because of this, they are sometimes called House Amish.