Many of the world’s foremost authorities on Anabaptist studies will gather at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania next month for this year’s conference on the Amish.

The conference brochure
The conference brochure

According to a news report in LancasterOnline, over 60 speakers will attend the conference, titled “Continuity and Change: 50 Years of Amish Society.” Prominent speakers will include Steven Nolt, a professor of history at Goshen College who is taking up his new position as Senior Scholar at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown. Donald Kraybill, who recently retired from that position, will also give a paper in his new position as emeritus scholar.

A special event at the conference will be the appearance of Ann Hostetler, daughter of the late scholar John Hostetler. His book Amish Society was the seminal work in establishing the field of Amish studies, according to the news report. It was first published in 1963, the beginning of the half-century of continuity and change envisioned by the conference.

Other special events mentioned in the news article will include optional bus tours around Lancaster County. The conference website gives a lot more details. One tour will be to Amish farms, where participants will speak with the farmers to learn how they are involved in the larger business community around them. Participants in the second tour will visit other types of Amish business ventures and learn from the proprietors how they are involved in the enterprises of the county and beyond. The third tour, to health and medical care facilities that provide services to the Amish, is already filled.

Donald Kraybill
Donald Kraybill (Photo by Dave Bonta)

Prof. Kraybill will be delivering one of the four Plenary Addresses at the conference, details of all of which are given on the website. Kraybill’s talk, “Worms in the Amish Software: Coping with Risk in a Cyber World” will cover the ways their society is vulnerable in an increasingly digital environment.

Prof. Nolt, according to the conference website, will deliver the keynote address, “Amish Society: Continuity and Dynamism in a Hyper-Modern World.” He will examine the fact that the Amish have not only survived but have thrived from the challenges of modernity, in large part due to their ability to adapt to changes. He will consider the ways the dynamism and diversity of the U.S. are affecting Amish society in the 21st century.

The Young Center at Elizabethtown College
The Young Center at Elizabethtown College (Photo by Bruce Bonta)

The conference will be held on the campus of Elizabethtown College, in the town of Elizabethtown, northwestern Lancaster County, from Thursday June 9 through Saturday June 11. The conference website provides details about registration, costs, and facilities. The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies is a prominent destination for visitors to the campus.