The Bruderhof (//; 'place of brothers') is an Anabaptist Christian movement that was founded in Germany in 1920 by Eberhard Arnold. The movement has communities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Paraguay, and Australia.
Foundations of Our Faith and Calling (2012)
|Associations||Fellowship for Intentional Community|
|Separated from||Hutterite Church, 1995|
|Number of followers||2,900 (2020)|
The Bruderhof practises believer's baptism, non-violence and peacemaking, common ownership, the proclamation of the gospel, and lifelong faithfulness in marriage. The Bruderhof is an intentional community as defined by the Fellowship for Intentional Community.
The communities are best known by the name "Bruderhof" or sometimes "Bruderhof Communities", though "Bruderhof" is the name used on their website. The communities are legally incorporated in the US as Church Communities International. Their corporation used to be called The Society of Brothers (1939 to 1978). Bruderhof maintained connections with the traditional Hutterite Church, from which they broke in 1995. The word "Bruderhof" was first used by the early Anabaptists in Moravia. As of September 2020[update], there are 26 Bruderhof communities.
Beginnings in Germany (1920–1937)Edit
The Bruderhof was founded in Germany in 1920 by Eberhard Arnold, a philosophy student and intellectual inspired by the German Youth Movement and his wife Emmy, née von Hollander. In 1920, the young family with five children rented a house in Sannerz, Weimar Republic, and founded a Christian community.
When the group outgrew the house at Sannerz, they moved to the nearby Rhön Mountains. While there, Arnold discovered that the Hutterites (an Anabaptist movement he had studied with great interest) were still in existence in North America. In 1930, he traveled to meet the Hutterites and was ordained as a Hutterian minister.
With the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism, the Rhön community moved its draft-age men and children to Liechtenstein around 1934 because of their conscientious refusal to serve in the armed forces and to accept Nazi teachers. This community became known as the Alm Bruderhof. Continuing pressure from the Nazi government caused others to move to England and found the Cotswold Bruderhof in 1936. On April 14, 1937, secret police surrounded the Rhön Bruderhof, confiscated the property, and gave the remaining community members forty-eight hours to flee the country. By 1938, all the Bruderhof members had reassembled in England.
In 1936 the Bruderhof had purchased a 200-acre (81 ha) farm in England called Ashton Fields, near the village of Ashton Keynes in the Cotswolds area. Originally intended to be a mission post, it provided sanctuary when they were forced to escape Nazi Germany. While based in England, the Bruderhof membership grew to over 350 members, largely through the addition of young English members who were conscientious objectors seeking an alternative to the now seemingly inevitable war with Germany. However, even before the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the presence of the community's German members and its pacifist stance attracted deep suspicion locally, resulting in economic boycotts against the farm. In 1940, confronted with the option of either having all of its German members interned for the duration and its English members conscripted, or leaving England as a group, the Bruderhof chose the latter and began to look for refuge abroad.
Paraguay (1941–1961; 2010–present)Edit
In 1941, the Bruderhof emigrated from England to Paraguay—at the time the only country that would accept a pacifist community of mixed nationalities. This move was assisted and facilitated by the Mennonite Central Committee.
Starting in the hostile Chaco region, the Bruderhof then relocated to eastern Paraguay where three settlements were founded on a large tract of land called Primavera. Bruderhof members founded a hospital for community members and local Paraguayans. The only clinic in the area, it served tens of thousands for the next two decades. By the early 1960s, the community in Paraguay had grown significantly and was attracting visitors from North America.
In 1942, several leaders of the community came in conflict with a group of members over the community's trajectory. This group, which included the founder's wife Emmy Arnold, argued that the founder's vision was rooted in a pietistic faith in Jesus Christ, not primarily in communitarian ideals. Eventually the church leadership, headed by the founder's son-in-law Hans Zumpe, banished the dissidents from the Bruderhof. Those who supported them were silenced, often with harsh discipline.
Eventually allowed back to join their families, the dissidents re-joined the community. One of them, Johann Heinrich Arnold, a son of Eberhard and Emmy Arnold, was sent with his family to the United States to raise funds and eventually started a new community called Woodcrest, in Rifton, New York, in 1954. Over the following years, conflicts between Zumpe and Arnold continued, culminating in a crisis resulting in Zumpe being relieved of his leadership role by the community. Zumpe left the community in 1960 after revelations of personal issues.
Many members who supported Zumpe, and some who were confused by the turmoil, left or were asked to leave the community. Eventually, the communities in Paraguay were dissolved and the members who remained relocated to the United States. Many of those who left the community during the 1960s later returned, but some remained outside of the community and formed a group of critics of the Bruderhof. Their stories formed the basis for the 2000 book written by Julius Rubin, The Other Side of Joy: Religious Melancholy among the Bruderhof. Rubin himself never visited the Bruderhof.
United States (1954–present)Edit
In 1954, the Bruderhof started a settlement known as the Woodcrest Bruderhof in the United States near Rifton in upstate New York, in response to a dramatic increase in the number of American guests. Woodcrest absorbed the Macedonia Cooperative Community in Georgia and many members of the Kingwood Community in New Jersey. Through the Macedonia Cooperative Community, Woodcrest inherited the business Community Playthings. Additional new communities were founded in Pennsylvania (1957) and Connecticut (1958).
In 1990, the Spring Valley Bruderhof was founded adjacent to the New Meadow Run Bruderhof in Farmington, Pennsylvania. As of September 2020, there are a total of 16 Bruderhof communities in the United States.
As of September 2020, there are three Bruderhof Communities in the United Kingdom and two in Germany.
In 1971, the Bruderhof purchased a property in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, United Kingdom called Darvell. The property had previously been a tuberculosis hospital. In 1995, a former sports college in Kent was purchased. In 2005, the Bruderhof started a small community in East London. This urban Bruderhof has now been moved to Peckham in south east London.
In 2002, the Bruderhof purchased a house in Sannerz, Germany. This location is where the Bruderhof movement had originally started.
The Bruderhof opened a community in Elsmore, New South Wales, Australia in 1999. In 2005, the Bruderhof opened a community in Inverell, New South Wales, Australia, where they operate the sign-writing business Danthonia Designs. Also in 2005, the Bruderhof opened a community in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia.
Beliefs and practiceEdit
The Bruderhof is a Protestant, evangelical Christian group, strongly influenced by radical Anabaptist and early Christian beliefs. Eberhard Arnold drew inspiration from a number of historical streams including early Christianity, the Anabaptists, German Pietism and the German Youth Movement. Johann Blumhardt (1805–1880) and his son Christoph Blumhardt (1842–1919), both German Lutheran theologians, are important sources of Bruderhof piety.
Bruderhof members do not hold private property, but rather share everything. Members work inside the Bruderhof, and nobody receives a salary or has a bank account. Income from all businesses is pooled and used for the care of all members and for various communal outreach efforts. Every member of the organization must take a vow that he or she is willing "to put yourself completely at the disposal of the church community to the end of your life – all your faculties, the entire strength of your body and soul, and all your property, both that which you now possess and that which you may later inherit or earn.
The Bruderhof practices believers' baptism, which does not equate to membership. Membership is lifetime and by vows after the age of 21. The Bruderhof also practices what they would call "The law of love" based on the house rule of the first Bruderhof in 1925:
It is therefore out of the question for someone in our community to hold something against a brother or sister or to talk behind his or her back. Relationships within and to the church community are spiritual bonds based on trust and on the readiness to forgive again and again.— Foundations of our Faith and Calling
The Bruderhof believes marriage to be "the lifelong union between one man and one woman" and believes that sexual love should only be shared in such a marriage relationship. They believe divorce and remarriage to be wrong. It has supported and run marriage events to promote marriage between one man and one woman both in the United States and the United Kingdom. The Bruderhof also participated in Humanum, a conference held in the Vatican from November 17–19, 2014 and attended by Pope Francis to discuss the complementarity of man and woman.
In accordance with the Anabaptist doctrine of nonconformity to the world, the Bruderhof wear plain dress, with women donning Christian headcoverings in accordance with their interpretation of 1 Corinthians in the Christian Bible.
Present day lifeEdit
Most communities have a nursery, kindergarten, school, communal kitchen, laundry, various workshops, and offices. Bruderhof life is built around the family, though there are also many single members. Children are an important part of each community and participate in most communal gatherings. Disabled and elderly members are cared for within the community and participate in daily life and work as much as they are able.
The Bruderhof eats one meal together each day as a community. Other meals are eaten in families. Singing is a very common form of worship in the community, and members often sing before meals. The Bruderhof do not prohibit the consumption of alcohol.
The Bruderhof has a reserved attitude to the use of technology. Bruderhof families do not watch television or use the Internet within the home but do so outside of it, with many using smartphones. Unlike the Amish, they own and drive cars and run modern businesses and factories. They now run two main websites (bruderhof.com and plough.com) and several social media channels. Some of their members run video blogs that document their life on the Bruderhof that are published online.
The Bruderhof runs schools for the children on each community, up to the age of 18, when they are allowed to leave the community
|Beech Grove||United Kingdom||Nonington, Kent||1995|
|Bellvale||United States||Chester, New York||2001|
|Darvell||United Kingdom||Robertsbridge, East Sussex||1971|
|Durham House||United States||Durham, North Carolina||2015|
|Fox Hill||United States||Walden, New York||1999|
|Harlem House||United States||Harlem, New York||2006|
|Holzland||Germany||Bad Klosterlausnitz, Thuringia||2004|
|Brisbane House||Australia||Chelmer, QLD||2017|
|Maple Ridge||United States||Ulster Park, New York||1985|
|Minneapolis House||United States||Minneapolis, Minnesota||2019|
|The Mount Community||United States||Esopus, New York||2012|
|New Meadow Run||United States||Farmington, Pennsylvania||1957|
|Parkview||United States||Albany, New York||2006|
|Peckham House||United Kingdom||Peckham, Lewisham||2016|
|Pittsburgh House||United States||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||2016|
|Platte Clove||United States||Elka Park, New York||1990|
|Rondout||United States||Kingston, New York||2004|
|Spring Valley||United States||Farmington, Pennsylvania||1987|
|Woodcrest||United States||Rifton, New York||1954|
The Bruderhof run a variety of businesses that provide income to run their communities and provide common work for the members who almost all work onsite.
Community Playthings was developed during the 1950s and soon became the Bruderhof's main source of income. Community Playthings designs and manufactures quality wooden classroom and play environments and toys for schools and daycare centers. The business is run by the communities in the United States and United Kingdom.
Rifton Equipment, run by some of the American communities, sells mobility and rehabilitation equipment for disabled adults and children. It was founded in 1977.
Danthonia Designs is the business that supports the Australian Bruderhofs. It specializes in hand-carved three-dimensional signage and was founded in 2001.
Involvement in the wider communityEdit
The Bruderhof is actively involved in the neighborhoods that surround its communities and in the world at large. The Bruderhof sees justice and the works of mercy as a gospel command. They foster many ecumenical relationships with other churches and denominations. For instance, in 2019 the Bruderhof collaborated with the Coptic church to commemorate the Coptic martyrs killed by ISIS. Members met the Pope in Rome in 2004.
Bruderhof members serve on school boards, volunteer at soup kitchens, prisons and hospitals, and work with local social service agencies such as the police to provide food and shelter for those in need of help. They are active supporters of various international aid organizations, such as Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, and World Vision.
The Bruderhof's Plough Publishing House publishes books and a magazine called Plough Quarterly. Plough publishes spiritual classics, inspirational books, and children's books, some of which are available as free downloads. Some of the books are written by Bruderhof members, but others are not.
In response to the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, the Bruderhof and Detective Steven McDonald created a program of school assemblies that have now reached tens of thousands of youths in the United States and United Kingdom. Operating under the name "Breaking the Cycle", speakers with forgiveness stories speak to children at school assemblies.
The Bruderhof community has at various times campaigned on social issues, such as the death penalty and the Iraq War. They were involved in the campaign in opposition to the death sentence for the activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1982 of murdering a Philadelphia police officer.
The Bruderhof in the mediaEdit
Inside the Bruderhof – BBC OneEdit
The Darvell Bruderhof in East Sussex allowed CTVC to produce a 40-minute documentary about them, Inside the Bruderhof, which was scheduled to air on July 25, 2019 on BBC1 but was pulled as a result of BBC News at Ten over-running. It was eventually broadcast on August 13, 2020 on BBC1. The film shows life inside the community, and follows a young person who has reached the age when the Bruderhof encourage them to explore life outside the community.
BBC Inside OutEdit
In March 2020, the BBC's Inside Out South East published a series of allegations from former members of the community that variously described attempted exorcism of a woman with mental health problems, public punishment of teenagers who had relationships and hostile attitudes to those who left the community. The Bruderhof objected to the programme, pointing out that the journalist who made the programme had never visited the community. They also said that the most serious allegations had been reported to statutory authorities who had chosen to take no further action.
The Bruderhof issued a statement saying the testimony of former members in this story presented a "misleading account" of the community. "We are an open and welcoming Christian community who, while not perfect, are doing our best to make the world a better place," it said. "Ofsted has for decades been inspecting the provision we make for our children and has never found any cause for concern. The Bruderhof is 100 years old this year. In that time we haven't got everything right, for which we are sorry. We are committed to listening to anyone who feels hurt by their experiences with the Bruderhof."
Relationship with the HutteritesEdit
The Bruderhof Communities and the Hutterites were in fellowship between 1930 and 1955 and between 1974 and 1990. In 1990, the Lehrerleut and the Dariusleut withdrew, while the Schmiedeleut maintained their bond to the Bruderhof. After the split among the Schmiedeleut in 1992, the more traditional group also withdrew, while the more progressive branch (led by Jacob Kleinsasser) kept the bond until 1995. Since then, the traditional Hutterites and the Bruderhof have been separate groups.
The reason for the withdrawal of the Hutterites in 1955 was a conflict about the Forest River Hutterite Colony, which joined the Bruderhof by a majority vote. In 1974 there was reconciliation between the two groups. In 1990 two of the three branches of the traditional Hutterites withdrew over concerns in regard to education, worship services and relations with outsiders, such as political activism.
According to Rod Janzen, there are differences between the traditional Hutterites and the Bruderhof Communities on many fields. Besides cultural differences, there are differences in regard to education, leadership, decision making, church discipline, ecumenism, what constitutes the "Word of God" etc. All these differences led to the final break in 1995.
- "Foundations of our Faith and Calling". Retrieved November 16, 2016.
- "Bruderhof". Fellowship for Intentional Community. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- Merrill Mow: Torches rekindled: the Bruderhof's struggle for renewal, Ulster Park, New York, 1989, page 30.
- "Bruderhof - GAMEO". gameo.org. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
- "Where We Are". Bruderhof. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
- "Inside the Bruderhof". BBC Media Centre. July 9, 2019. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
- Murray, Stuart (2011). The Naked Anabaptist. Paternoster. ISBN 978-1-84227-725-6.
- Jones, Keith G.; Randall, Ian M. (December 5, 2008). Counter-Cultural Communities: Baptistic Life in Twentieth-Century Europe. Wipf & Stock Publishers. p. 310. ISBN 9781606083161.
Through this action, the Bruderhof remained faithful to the early Anabaptist beliefs as described in The Schleitheim Confession, in particular through the refusal to accept obligatory military service in accordance with the confession's statement that 'the rule of the government is according to the flesh, that of the Christians according to Spirit'.
- Tyldesley, Mike (2003). No Heavenly Delusion?: A Comparative Study of Three Communal Movements. Liverpool University Press.
- Randall, Ian M.; Wright, Nigel G. (March 14, 2018). A Christian Peace Experiment: The Bruderhof Community in Britain, 1933–1942. Cascade Books. ISBN 978-1-5326-3998-2.
- Randall, Ian (2018). A Christian Peace Experiment. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books. pp. xi. ISBN 9781532639982.
- "Does anyone know how we can entice our house martins back? | The Spectator". The Spectator. July 7, 2018. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
- Levinson, David; Christensen, Karen (2003). Encyclopedia of community: from the village to the virtual world, Volume 3. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications. p. 105.
- Barth, Emmy (2009). No Lasting Home: A Year in the Paraguayan Wilderness. Plough. ISBN 978-0-87486-945-3.
- "Community in Paraguay – A Visit to the Bruderhof | Skirt | Altar". Retrieved July 21, 2017 – via Scribd.
- Mommsen, Peter. Homage to a Broken Man. Plough. ISBN 978-0-87486-613-1.
- Julius H. Rubin: The Other Side of Joy: Religious Melancholy among the Bruderhof, New York and Oxford, 2000, pages 132-155.
- Randall, Ian M. (October 1, 2014). "Church Community is a Gift of the Holy Spirit - The Spirituality of the Bruderhof Community". Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. SSRN 2536364. Cite journal requires
- "Where We Are". Bruderhof. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
- "communityplaythings.com – Our History". communityplaythings.com. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- "Danthonia Designs". Retrieved November 19, 2016.
- "Where We Are". Bruderhof. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
- "Guides". Bruderhof. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
- Bruderhof (October 29, 2015), What is the Bruderhof?, retrieved May 26, 2017
- The Bruderhof: Foundations of our Faith & Calling; The Bruderhof; The Plough Publishing House, Rifton, New York 2012.
- Bruderhof website.
- Foundations of our Faith and Calling. Plough. 2014. pp. 29, 50. ISBN 978-0-87486-888-3.
In obedience to this commission, the church community offers baptism to every person who believes in the gospel of Jesus Christ and whose repentance comes from the heart, bearing fruit in deeds. In order to receive believer's baptism as instituted by Christ for the forgiveness of sins, a person must have reached the age of accountability.
- Foundations of our Faith and Calling. Plough. 2014. pp. 58–61. ISBN 978-0-87486-888-3.
- "Marriage event in London". Retrieved November 22, 2016.
- "Man, Woman and Family: Convergence Among Faiths". Retrieved November 22, 2016.
- Bronner, Simon J (March 4, 2015). Encyclopedia of American Folklife. Routledge. p. 492. ISBN 9781317471950.
- "Life Among The Bruderhof". The American Conservative. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
- "Bruderhof Communities". SoundCloud. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
- "Just Don't call it a cult- the strangely alluring world of the Bruderhof". The Guardian. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "Visit Us". Bruderhof. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
- "Bruderhof Website - Another Life is Possible". Retrieved November 19, 2016.
- Wright, Andy. "Teens are all obsessed with social media? Not so much". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
- "In search of the good life: a day with the radical Bruderhof". The Tablet. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
- "The Bruderhof (@TheBruderhof) | Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
- "Bruderhof (@bruderhofcommunities) • Instagram photos and videos". instagram.com. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
- "Bruderhof". Retrieved June 29, 2018 – via YouTube.
- "The Mount Academy". www.mountacademy.com. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
- "Where We Are". Bruderhof. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
- "Community Playthings". Retrieved November 19, 2016.
- "communityplaythings.com - Community Playthings - Childcare Furniture for over 60 years". communityplaythings.com. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Community Playthings | Nursery school furniture and equipment". www.communityplaythings.co.uk. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- "Rifton Website". Retrieved November 19, 2016.
- Levin, Steve (July 21, 2000). "Bruderhof youth festival readied". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
- "Why I Keep Talking About…Alternativity, the Bruderhof, and Church of All Nations". Proximity. October 23, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
- "Lots of Coptic clergy were rubbing shoulders with members of the Bruderhof". The Tablet. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "To the members of the 'Bruderhof Communities' (June 26, 2004) | John Paul II". w2.vatican.va. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
- "Common Causes". Bruderhof. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
- "Strategic Partners". Save the Children. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
- "Alien Citizens | The University of Chicago Divinity School". divinity.uchicago.edu. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
- "About Us". Plough.com. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- "About Breaking the Cycle, A project of the Bruderhof". www.breakingthecycle.com. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
- Tapia, Andres; Carrasco, Rudy (June 21, 2007). "A Christian Community Makes Waves, Not War". Christianity Today. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
- Times, The Sunday (July 21, 2019). "Spectrum: an exclusive look inside the Bruderhof communes in Kent and East Sussex". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
- "A Day with the Bruderhof". james clarke photography. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
- "BBC1 – Inside the Bruderhof". BBC. Archived from the original on August 7, 2019. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
- "BBC1 – Inside the Bruderhof". BBC. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
- Mangan, Lucy (July 25, 2019). "Inside the Bruderhof review – is this a religious stirring I feel?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
- "'Just don't call it a cult': the strangely alluring world of the Bruderhof". the Guardian. July 23, 2019. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
- "Response to BBC Inside Out South East". Bruderhof. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
- "Inside Out". BBC. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
- Rod Janzen: The Hutterites and the Bruderhof: The Relationship Between an Old Older Religious Society and a Twentieth-Century Communal Group in Mennonite Quarterly Review 79 (2005), pages 505-544.
- Merrill Mow: Torches rekindled: the Bruderhof's struggle for renewal, Ulster Park, NY, 1989, page 29-31.