Mennonites in Black

Not everyone wants a new iPhone.


James Rhodes and his wife Mary Ethel are Old Order Mennonites, born and raised near the farm town of Dayton, Virginia. Like the Amish, the “Plain People” favor church and community over modern technology, and consider plainness of dress and speech to be virtues. This photo essay illustrates some of the joys and challenges of daily life for the Rhodes family.

Old Order Mennonites James and Mary Ethel Rhodes are raising eight children to eschew modern technology. They believe in living off the land and being self-sustaining.
 

Mary Ethel Rhodes sweeps outside an Old Order Mennonite church.
 

Clothes are often washed in an old-fashioned wringer washer and hung on a clothesline to dry.
 

Jesse and Glenn Rhodes play in the dirt as their sisters look on.
 

Farming is a primary occupation for Old Order Mennonites, because it allows the family to work together as a unit without too many worldly distractions.
 

Marlena Rhodes sits as her mother braids her hair for church. Young girls wear their uncut hair in two long braids until they are 12 or 13 years old, when they are allowed a single braid.
 

James Rhodes looks over his son’s schoolwork during a visit to the Mennonite school. The school has two classrooms: One holds grades 1-4, the other, grades 5-8.
 

Three Old Order Mennonite girls talk in a field at sunset.
 

Old Order Mennonite youth play ball.
 

Jesse Rhodes rides his scooter around the basement while his sister, Janet, and mother, Mary Ethel, do their daily chores.
 

Mary Ethel Rhodes prepares grapes for use in grape juice and grape pie. Most Old Order Mennonites rely on the harvest from their large gardens to feed them throughout the winter.
 

At breakfast, James Rhodes spends a moment with his 4-year-old son, Jesse. Meals together are among the most important events in the day of an Old Order Mennonite family. Before eating, the food is always blessed with a prayer. After eating, many families also give thanks to God.

 

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate