Plain Meetinghouses: Lancaster County Old Order Mennonites Gather to Worship

Beth Oberholtzer, Photographs by John Herr

Available Now


Old Order Mennonites are deeply faithful, agrarian-rooted, Swiss-German Anabaptists who have called Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, home for 300 years. Their meetinghouses silently embody their religious traditions, and yet few outsiders have seen the startling utilitarian beauty of these rural structures up close. The author and photographer were allowed rare access to 22 austere houses of worship. The result is a one-of-a-kind book featuring over 300 photos and diagrams that document all aspects of the meetinghouses, from the design of their benches and buggy sheds to the arrangement of tables central to worship. As fast-growing Lancaster County encroaches on the Old Order way of life, their communities are changing. This book is a record of an extraordinary religious heritage.

Size: 9 1/8" x 8 1/8" | 333 color and b/w images | 240 pp
ISBN13: 9780764353017

 Back to Results 

Beth Oberholtzer is a book designer, editor, and author from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She has written and photographed books about grain painting, crazy quilt stockings, and appliqued wall hangings, and designed hundreds of books for a variety of publishing clients. John Herr is an architecture photographer, also from Lancaster County, whose work portrays contemporary and historic buildings. His images are reminders that fine buildings are community assets to be valued and preserved. An avid bicyclist, he has ridden to many of the locations shown in the book. Beth and John are tenth- and eleventh-generation descendants of Swiss-German Mennonites who in the early 1700s escaped religious persecution and settled in Lancaster County.