Common Purse and Property

None of us owns anything personally, and our communal property belongs not to us as a group but to the cause of Christ. Anyone who has decided to become a member freely gives all property, earnings, and inheritances to the church community. In turn, all necessities such as food, housing, and health care are provided for. Members generally work for and in the community, but none of us receives a paycheck, stipend, or allowance. In our homes and daily lives, we try to live frugally and give generously, to avoid excess, and to remain unfettered by materialism. In these practical ways we seek to witness that under the stewardship of the church, everything we have is available to anybody in need.

Our businesses are sufficient to maintain our communities and provide for our modest daily needs (and yes, the community pays for these things with money, not barter). When we are blessed with more than we need, we use it for our own outreach projects or to support other charitable missions.

Housing

Typical housing is in apartment buildings, with each family assigned its own living space and bedrooms. Everyone has the same basic furnishings, with most living areas containing a table and chairs, a simple sofa, and a kitchen area. Single members usually have a family assigned to them for mutual support, in which case the single person has his or her own bedroom but shares the living space and family activities. Many of the larger settlements have common buildings, such as a dining hall, laundry, and elementary school.

 Reading poetry at Harlem Bruderhof house

Meals

Several times a week, all members of a community eat together. We consider common meals – enjoyed outdoors when the weather allows – to be an important and joyful part of church community life. We often have visitors eating with us, especially at Saturday dinner. At a mealtime, you may hear group singing or stories being read. Common meals are also a time to celebrate occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, and important holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Every time we come together to eat is a time of thanksgiving and fellowship.

Dress

The Bruderhof has a simple and modest style of dress, similar to many other religious traditions whose members wear distinctive clothing. This approach allows us to avoid having to think about how we will present ourselves, and helps remove the competition and sexualization that fashion can bring. It also gives us a feeling of solidarity with each other – it is an outward sign that we are all on the same path of discipleship.

Individuality

While we share all we have with each other, we reject any attempts to make people uniform. We are all of equal worth but must be free to be ourselves. We are called to serve God and neighbor with the gifts and interests God has given each of us. Some members are called to teach, some to proclaim the gospel, some to praise God through music and art. We practice our gifts through our work within the community, but there is also plenty of time to explore and nurture individual pursuits. Members’ interests include gardening, writing, painting, pottery, woodworking, piano, brewing beer, beekeeping, and fishing. The more originality there is among us, the more vibrant our fellowship will be. 

An image of a Bruderhof artist drawing a picture at a table