Families on the Bruderhof

Families of mother, father, and children are the basic units of the Bruderhof community, and each family is given its own personal space and privacy to develop strong relationships. Parents are primarily responsible for raising their children, though we offer many supportive resources, such as babysitting and schools. Single-parent households receive particular support so that children grow up with both male and female role models. Extended families can be quite large, with adult siblings living among different settlements with their own families. When parents become elderly, their children and grandchildren are often located with the parents to help care for them. Some people who have grown up in the Bruderhof decide as adults that this life is not their calling; we still enjoy close relationships and visits with those family members.

a Bruderhof family: parents, four children, and a grandfather

Marriage

Central to family life is marriage – a creation of God and a sacrament that precedes and transcends the authority of the state. Christ declared marriage to be the lifelong union of one man and one woman, and he intended it be a joyful union for the bearing and raising of children.

In addition to making vows of poverty, Bruderhof members also make vows of chastity, which require abstinence before marriage and outside of it. We rejoice when a man and a woman are led to true love by God. Marriage vows are made publicly before the gathered members as witnesses, and the marriage is then confirmed by the church through the laying on of hands.

We have reverence for members who remain single by choice or circumstance. In their life of chastity, they give witness to Jesus’ call to purity and singleness of heart. A single person who does not live near his family is welcomed into another Bruderhof family to share meals, activities, and support.

three generations of a Bruderhof family

Children

Children are the heart of our church community, and we believe they are the foundation of any healthy society. The Bruderhof looks to children as an example to adults about how to be and act in the world. Children demand honesty and justice, demonstrate simplicity, forgive quickly, love easily, and look at the world with fresh eyes of innocence and wonder. Jesus implores us to become like children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Many societies either devalue children or place too many stressors upon them. The Bruderhof prioritizes children, and in doing so, we try to ensure children are able to live as children. We encourage play, moral and ethical choices, an awareness of the wider world, and the natural development of an individual’s gifts.