Unknown Christian community in Sussex lives without electricity or possessions
Imagine a life with no crime, debt or homelessness, but you don’t have access to a TV and you can’t choose what job you do or own any possessions. That’s reality for a little-known Christian community living in Sussex.
While it seems unbelievable that such a life could exist just an hour or so outside of London, a new documentary called Inside The Bruderhof is going to give us a glimpse at what actually goes on in the Bruderhof community.
While there are no worries about paying the mortgage, and the washing and cooking is done for you, this is a life far removed from what most of us are used to.
With women having to dress modestly in long skirts and scarves over their hair, and having to ask permission before you begin ‘courting’, it’s not something most of us can imagine in Britain in 2019.
The 300 members live in a converted tuberculosis sanatorium near Robertsbridge in Sussex, and have shunned all mod cons in favour of a life devoted to Jesus.
The Bruderhof has just 3000 members across the world, spread across the UK, USA, Germany, Australia and Paraguay, and have let the cameras into their secluded community for the first time.
Bernard Hibbs, the community’s outreach director explained: ‘We have a different vision for our society.
‘We don’t proselytise, it’s unwholesome to try to make people become members. But we thought, “Why not show people how we live?”
‘When I go outside the community, people are interested in it. They worry about their kids and technology, and like the idea of sharing.
‘So we’re showing what we’ve learnt. It’s not perfect, but if we can encourage people to think about how they live, that’s great.’
The group first began after the First World War in 1920, and the rules they live by are based on the ways of the early Christians following the rules of the New Testament.
Bernard added: ‘This is about people living according to the New Testament. People loving each other, sharing possessions and supporting each other.’
While they try to live a back-to-basics lifestyle, the group does need an income to survive and every site is involved in the Bruderhof company Community Playthings which makes wooden toys and furniture for nurseries.
The factory in Robertsbridge alone turns over an average of £17 million a year, and everyone is required to pitch in when there is a big order, regardless of where in the community they work.
No wonder there’s no worries about paying the mortgage then.
Their website says: ‘Love your neighbour. Share everything. (OK, maybe not your toothbrush.)
‘But at the Bruderhof, we believe that another way of life is possible. We’re not perfect people, but we’re willing to venture everything to build a life where there are no rich or poor.
‘Where everyone is cared for, everyone belongs, and everyone can contribute. We’re pooling all our income, talents, and energy to take care of one another and to reach out to others.’
Inside The Bruderhof airs on BBC1 on Thursday at 10.35pm.
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