The Spirit Compels Us to Live in Community

June 22, 2021 by

 children and their dads

In my last blog I wrote about the Anabaptists of the 16th century who died as martyrs for their faith. They were the forebears of today’s Hutterian Church, now comprising several hundred communities in the midwestern United States and Canada.

I am currently in Germany at Sannerz, the Bruderhof where Eberhard and Emmy Arnold began living in community with a handful of others in 1920. This is something of a pilgrimage for me, an opportunity to see some of the sites that have been important in the Bruderhof’s hundred-year history: Halle, where the von Hollander sisters, Emmy and Else, were caught up in a Christian revival; Bad Blankenburg, where Eberhard Arnold spoke at the annual conferences of the Evangelical Alliance; Berlin, where he wrestled with questions of war and pacifism; the former Rhön Bruderhof, where they built up a community and where Eberhard Arnold and Else von Hollander are buried. There is much for the mind and heart to ponder.

In the following excerpt from a 1925 essay, Eberhard Arnold speaks of movements throughout history that influenced the early Bruderhof members in their search for a practical way to live out their faith. In part because Eberhard did not wish to start his own church, he looked for other individuals, community groups, or movements that believed as the Bruderhof members did – and above all, groups whose beliefs were demonstrated by their daily life.


The spirit-filled life of love that arises from faith has been decisively witnessed to over the centuries, especially by the Jewish prophets and later by the first Christians. We acknowledge Christ, the historical Jesus, and with him his entire message as proclaimed by his apostles and practiced by his followers.

The Spirit has led people to community time and again since the days of early Christianity.

Therefore we stand as brothers and sisters with all those who have joined together to live in community through the long course of history. They appeared among the Christians of the first century; in the prophetic movement of the Montanists in the second; in the monasticism of the following centuries; in the revolutionary movement of justice and love led by Arnold of Brescia; in the Waldensian movement; in the itinerant communities of Francis of Assisi; among the Bohemian and Moravian Brethren and the Brothers of the Common Life; among the Beguines and Beghards; in the Anabaptist movements of the sixteenth century; among the early Quakers; among the Labadists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; among the early Moravians, and in many other denominations and movements down to our present day.

We must live in community because we are compelled by the same Spirit that has led to community time and again since the days of biblical prophecy and early Christianity.


About the author

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel, an author with a particular interest in Bruderhof history, writes a regular blog post featuring timely...

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  • Very inspiring !!! However is baptism really a symbolic act or could something happen? Bible says Jesus/Yahshua circumcises us with a circumcision not made with hands....

    Mike Maurice
  • The nearest community to me. I wish I could visit you someday at Sannerz. I would like to live the peace and love of God in my heart. I wish I could live the spirit of the brotherhood again.