A Christian communal movement committed to living out the teachings of Jesus Christ in shared community life.

Religion: Christianity
Denomination: Anabaptist
Founder: Eberhard Arnold
Founded: 1920
Location: International
Size: Approximately 3,000 members
Other Names: Society of Brothers, Church Communities International

The Bruderhof, or the Society of Brothers, is a Christian communal movement established in 1920 by Eberhard Arnold, his wife Emmy, and her sister Else von Hollander in Germany. The movement emerged in response to the societal disruptions following World War I and was deeply influenced by the practices of the early Christians, the Anabaptist tradition, and the Hutterites, all of whom emphasized communal living and pacifism.

Arnold’s vision was to create a community that adhered closely to the teachings of Jesus Christ, particularly those found in the Sermon on the Mount, advocating for peace, sharing of resources, and common ownership. The community’s lifestyle is characterized by voluntary poverty, pacifism, and adult baptism. Decisions are made collectively, often guided by consensus or the advice of community elders, reflecting their commitment to living out the principles of the early Christian church and social justice.

Throughout its history, the Bruderhof has faced significant challenges, including persecution by the Nazis in the 1930s, which forced them to relocate first to England and later to Paraguay during World War II. In Paraguay, despite hardships, they established a hospital and engaged in agricultural development, showing their commitment to contributing positively to their new home. Post-war, the community expanded to the United States, establishing the Woodcrest community in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley in 1954, amidst a resurgence of interest in communal living.

The Bruderhof runs community-owned businesses which support their self-sufficiency and fund their educational and social initiatives. Education is a cornerstone of their community values, with Bruderhof schools focusing on holistic development—heart, head, and hand—and instilling their spiritual and communal values from a young age.

Today, the Bruderhof maintains communities in several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Paraguay. These communities are marked by a diverse and multicultural membership, continuing to live out their commitment to communal living and sharing all possessions to ensure no member faces economic hardship. They remain active in social and humanitarian efforts, including disaster relief and advocating for peace and social justice, navigating the challenges of maintaining their values and way of life in a rapidly changing world.

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