By Kevin Stoda, a believer with similar beliefs and practices to Mennonites and Amish world-wide
I came across the first edition of Steven M. Nolte’s History of the Amish (1992) at a second-hand bookstore in Joplin during my last visit to Missouri.
I am thinking of writing up an article entitled “Almost Amish (Almost Mennonite)”. As I was actually raised in a Catholic Church and as my mother is a United Methodist minister, just reading through Nolte’s book I gain a lot of important insight into the the lives of my peers and my own formative college years at my alma mater, Bethel College (Kansas), a General Conference (founded) Mennonite college– and into the subsequent two decades I experienced as I continued to attend Mennonite fellowships in France, Switzerland, Germany and the USA, i.e. as the opportunity to attend such fellowships came to me.
For example, for the first time, I learnt in chapter 8 of Nolte’s original 1992 publication that I had been attending on an off throughout the 1980s the very last Amish congregation in Europe.
This Amish community had been located was in Rhineland-Palatinate, near where I worked on several strawberry farms for six months in 1984 (the first year that I left the USA to work abroad). I went to church on Sundays with the children and grandchildren of the members of this last Amish fellowship on the continent.
NOTE: Until around 1937, the last two Amish churches in Europe were near Ixheim, which after incorporation became the town of Zweibruecken, the Bundesland of Rhineland Palatinate and located just a few kilometers from Saarland and Alsace where other Amish communities had been active through the early part of the 20th century.. A quick review of the Online Mennonite Encyclopedia states, “This was the last Amish Mennonite congregation to merge with the South German Mennonite Conference.” If I had settled more permanently near Zweibruecken or another Mennonite community in Germany or France in the 1980s when I lived, worked, and studied, I might have gotten babtized among them and joined their community.
During the 1980s and 1990s, as an adult, I was thrice close to getting babtized into a Mennonite fellowship as I lived in Kansas and attended fellowships in Newton, Kansas City, and Lawrence, Kansas
Hang with me! I will explain how the Mennonite walk dove-tailed with and helped build my world view, even as I continued to travel and work around the world, like a man without a country on earth or like a man in search of a good community to live and stay in….
I will try to blog more on this topic soon as I complete the book of Nolte’s and gain further insight into Amish and Mennonite history which I have happened into over these past 5 decades at a christian.
 The General Conference Mennonite Church was a mainline association of Mennonite congregations based in North America from 1860 to 2002.The conference was formed in 1860 when congregations in Iowa invited North American Mennonites to join together in order to pursue common goals such as higher education and mission work. The conference was especially attractive to recent Mennonite and Amish immigrants to North America and expanded considerably when thousands of Russian Mennonites arrived in North America starting in the 1870s. Conference offices were located in Winnipeg, Manitoba and North Newton, Kansas. The conference supported a seminary and several colleges. In the 1990s the conference had 64,431 members in 410 congregations in Canada, the United States and South America. After decades of cooperation with the Mennonite Church, the two groups reorganized into Mennonite Church Canada in 2000 and Mennonite Church USA in 2002. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Conference_Mennonite_Church
 Mennonite and Amish churches are really hard to find at times in most corners of the globe, even in North America and Europe. For example, in Oman where I now live and work over the past 6 years, there is neither an Amish nor Mennonite fellowhsip closer that several thousand miles away. When I last lived and worked in the state of Hesse in Germany prior to coming here, I had to travel several hours by slow train to fellowship with congregations I had gotten to know decades earlier in the Rhineland-Palatinate.