Are Plain People Really Plain?

hook and eye fastenersDo you know any plain people?

No, I’m not talking about that couple you invited to dinner last week that bored your other guests to a comatose state.

The Dunkard Brethren, Amish, Mennonite, and most all sects that derive from the Anabaptist faith–even some that don’t–will often call themselves “plain people.” But what does that mean? The term “plain people” refers to the conservative, ultra-modest way we choose to dress.

But why do we dress so conservatively? Well, for one, the Bible teaches that women should adorn themselves in modesty:

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works (1 Timothy 2:9,10)

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands (1 Peter 3:1-5).

That’s the short version …

But did you know that a  large segment of the Dunkard Brethren church dresses more modern, in skirts and blouses, or shirt-waist dresses, often homemade. Okay, okay; I know to most of you out there that probably seems pretty plain but, believe me, to us, it isn’t.

I was baptized into the Dunkard Brethren church when I was sixteen years old. I went from miniskirts to cape dresses sewing dressthat could be no shorter than ten inches off the floor. I wore black stockings and black shoes. My dresses had a separate cape with a front and a back that slipped over my head and a waist band all around, fastened at the side, similar to how many Amish wear their capes.

Now you’re probably asking, “Okay, Sharon. Why the cape?”

It’s simple actually. A loose cape prevents your shape from showing.

It’s a modesty thing.

When I was younger, I used snaps or hook and eye fasteners for my waistbands. The Amish used straight pins, and many still do as far as I know. I used no buttons on my dresses. My sleeves were either long, to my wrist, or just below my elbow.

I made all my clothes and learned to enjoy it.

Dunkard men, on the other hand, really weren’t that plain … at least not in comparison to us women. Most men back then (when I converted) wore long-sleeved shirts. But in hot weather they rolled their sleeves up. They dressed in plain dark-blue or black pants and dark socks with black shoes, but it didn’t take long for jeans to come on the scene.

(I must admit, at times it annoyed me that I was so plain while my husband went around looking like a million bucks.)

A lot of men wore beards, but it wasn’t required. My husband did, and it set him apart. Beards weren’t fashionable at that time the way they can be today.

plain people clothingNowadays, I dress more modern. Although, when I say that, my friends sort of shake their heads and chuckle. To them, all my clothes are conservative.

And pants are not allowed.

Well, there’s the long and short of it (pun intended). If you would, take a minute to follow this blog by clicking that little FOLLOW button on the right-side column of this page … and even my Facebook page … and I’ll be sure to tell you more about the Dunkard Brethren and Anabaptist faith. My hope is that understanding our heart will deepen your own heart’s desire for the things of God.

Don’t worry; you don’t have to dress like us to learn from our deep passion for our Lord.

And if there’s anything in particular you’d like to know about our faith, customs, history, won’t you comment below and ask?

Who knows? Maybe your question will be the topic of one of my upcoming blogs!


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Perfect Love

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been drawn to the history of the Anabaptist people since that night in 1963, when I heard my cousin describe the passion of this once-persecuted people to the group of us squeezed around a potbelly stove.

I was transfixed by his words that night.

That was also the night I became immersed in the greatest love story that ever was.

Try as you might to find a romance equal to this one, I guarantee your failure.

When God created man, His heart was moved. He saw Adam’s loneliness and said “It’s not good that man should live alone.” So he made him a helpmeet—woman—namely, Eve. And the two became one flesh and they cleaved together. Wow! Our first earthly love story (Genesis 2:18).

God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Adam’s love for love storyEve brought to earth the first baby, in all its perfection. Certainly love abounded in the hearts of the first mother and father.

This age-old love still reigns in the depths of men and women’s souls. Sadly, the beauty and perfection of Adam and Eve’s initial love died through acts of sin.

Today, we’re pressed long and hard, to find the same type of perfect romance between men and women. The true love created in the beginning was not self-serving as it is today and has been for past generations. Love of SELF remains the culprit for the break-up of all love stories that would otherwise emulate God’s love for his bride.

But don’t despair! If you’re part of the body of Christ, someday you’ll find yourself in the midst of a perfect marriage with the Lamb of God, the binder that holds us together in perfect harmony.

The Bible says, God is love. He is the author of that beautiful four-letter word. The Lord created us to love and worship Him. In return, He cares for us. In fact, He loves the whole world (John 3:16).

Of course, you must believe in your Bridegroom to become His bride. Ladies, isn’t that why we marry the man of our dreams? Because we believe He will cherish us and remain true to us all the days of our lives?

loveI’m talking about a two-way street.

But what’s the Bridegroom’s ultimate goal? To carry His bride away with Him to the glorious eternal home prepared for her.

If you’re not a part of this perfect union, get a Bible and find a Bible-believing church, not only for instruction to preserve your earthly marriage, but also for instruction to become a part of the Bride of Christ.

Once you’ve felt the love of this perfect union, you’ll understand my draw toward the history of the Anabaptist. People with a love and devotion to Christ so deep it’s bound to inspire.

Come with me.

Let’s take the scenic route.

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In the Kitchen with Sister Betty – Shoo-fly Pie

shoo-flyThis comes from a sister named Betty. It’s is an old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe and there are different variations of this one … but here’s my favorite.



1¼ cups of dark molasses

¼ cup of sugar

½ tsp. of cloves

1 ¾ cup of boiling water

1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in hot water

1 tsp. cinnamon

Pour mixture into unbaked pie shells(makes 3).


3 cups flour                                                                                         ½ tsp. of salt

1 cup brown sugar                                                                               ½ cup lard (or oleo is better!)

Put on top of liquid. Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees then 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Enjoy!

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In the Kitchen with Sister Amy – Pot Pie

142350I want to introduce you to our first cook. Amy was a formidable woman; tall, stout, her bearing straight like a soldier–in this case for Jesus Christ. At first, I thought her a stern, unsmiling individual. I was so wrong. She simply took her faith seriously. She gave of herself wherever she was needed, and she loved deeply. Eventually even me.  In their home, they spoke Pennsylvania Dutch and English. Her German accent often made her difficult to understand, but wow could she cook. Below is a simple recipe of hers. Enjoy!



1 Tbsp. butter                                                                                                    ½ cup milk

1 Tbsp. lard                                                                                                         1 tsp. of salt

1 egg                                                                                                                     2 cups flour

Mix and roll out like pie dough. Cut in squares, put in broth and cook ½ hour. This is great with cooked chicken or beef cut up in small pieces.

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Becoming Dunkard

 "Pot Belly Stove" by Gayle McKenzie

“Pot Belly Stove” by Gayle McKenzie

I was fifteen when I left the Wesleyan Methodist church I’d grown up in, and nearly broke my family apart.

I first learned of the Dunkard Brethren in 1963, when a cousin I’d met only a handful of times moved to town. He was a minister, only eleven years older than me, and he taught things I’d never heard of.

Out of curiosity, my best girlfriend—Cheri, the mayor’s daughter—and I went to hear him preach in an old building with a potbelly stove in the center aisle. What little heat the fire inside radiated barely made it into the group, but I hardly noticed the cold. That night, we learned that the Dunkard Brethren were a sect of the Anabaptist and that they followed the Bible almost word for word. They believed in living as the apostles taught.

We were fascinated.

I immediately stopped attending the Wesleyan Methodist church and my girlfriend left the Congregational Church her family attended. At first, my mother thought this was an act of teenaged rebellion and that it would pass.

She soon learned different.

In no time, I’d replaced my miniskirts with long dresses and long sleeves I made myself. I let my short hair grow enough to wear in a tight bun on the back of my head. Cheri and I stopped attending assemblies, and dances were a definite no no.

The children at school were in varying degrees of shock. I can imagine how we looked to them. But that didn’t matter to us.

On April 26th of 1964, my girlfriend and I, and a young man at my school (who later became my husband), were baptized in a picturesque lake outside of town. Cheri and I wore what are called “head coverings,” which were common within the Dunkard sect. We were totally immersed, dipped forward (not backward, like most denominations) three times.

My mother was so upset she packed her bags and went home to her mother. My dad tried to defend me, and this caused a rift between my parents. I felt so alone. Still, nothing I went through compared to what Cheri experienced. Her father, I suppose being the mayor and having some image he needed to maintain, sent her to a mental institution. I can only imagine what she endured there.

I couldn’t believe our decision was having such an impact on so many people. Our own parents had failed us. But these trials only made us stronger, brought us closer together, somehow made us more sure we were just where we were supposed to be.

Adversity often has that effect.

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