Conference on Amish issues to be held in Lancaster

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Sep 21, 2018 3:22 PM


(Harrisburg) -- A foundation with the mission of assisting Amish people both inside and outside the church plans to hold its first conference in Lancaster.

The Amish Heritage Foundation aims to ease the transition for people who wish to leave the church.

Its founder Torah Bontrager left her strict Amish community in Michigan at age 15, so she knows how hard it can be to live outside the church.

She said the Amish don't speak English as a first language, they only have an eighth-grade education, and often don't have social security numbers--all of which can make it difficult to establish a life outside the church. 

But Bontrager said she's not advocating for Amish to leave. She also wants to help that population.

"We're not saying that anyone should leave the church, we're not advocating for that," Bontrager said. "We're only advocating on behalf of what is in the best interest of someone who's Amish, whether they're inside or outside the church."

The conference scheduled for September 28th and 29th at Franklin and Marshall College will feature discussions on personal experience and academic research.

It's limited to 150 attendees, but will also be live-streamed online.

The conference is hosting a concert Friday, September 28th at 8 p.m. at Tellus 360 that is open to the public. 

This story has been updated to correct that Bontrager grew up in the Midwest and escaped from a community in Michigan, not Ohio. 


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