The Old Order Amish Mennonites have a different procedure in holding their regular church services from that of the other branches. In this as well as in many other practices, they still cling to the practice which their forefathers brought along from Europe. The services are opened by the singing of a hymn from the Ausbund, and when the congregation starts singing all of the ministers present retire to a separate room for counsel. This assembly is called Abrath, or in the Pennsylvania-German dialect Abrote, and may be expressed in English as a "separate council." The purpose of this ministerial council is to give the ministers a chance to discuss any circumstances or needs that any one of them has in mind that require ministerial attention or discussion. Any matter that needs to be brought before the congregation must be first discussed here and a plan for procedure formulated. A full agreement of all ministers present is necessary on all matters of procedure before anything is brought before the congregation.
A further purpose of this ministerial council is to decide who is to conduct the services on this particular day. The one that is farthest in arrears in taking his turn at preaching a sermon in the district is entitled to preach the main sermon, and the one farthest in arrears in opening the service: is assigned this task; this is the mode of procedure in all districts. Exceptions are sometimes made where special services are held for a visiting minister and where there is no question as to whose duty it is to conduct the service. Sometimes in such instances no special council is held. These exceptions are rather rare however.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 8. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Bontrager, Eli J. "Abrath." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1955. Web. 19 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A245.html.
APA style: Bontrager, Eli J. (1955). Abrath. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A245.html.