Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.
Eberhard Arnold (1883-1935) is most remembered as the founder of the Bruderhof community. Arnold was born and grew up in Germany. Throughout his early years, he worked with those around him who were poor and oppressed. He struggled with a disconnect between his own comfortable life and the lack others around him faced. Arnold studied theology and became a well-known lecturer. In 1909, he married Emmy von Hollander. He studied Anabaptist writings and wrote many essays on topics such as early Christianity, loving one another, and prayer. His most famous work is entitled Innerland. He was later drafted to ﬁght in World War I, but was soon released due to his poor health. This experience would foster questions of war and peace in Arnold’s mind and by 1917 he was a paciﬁst.
We do feel drawn, with them, to all men who suffer need and distress, to those who lack food and shelter and whose very mental development is stunted through exploitation. With them, we stand side by side with the “have-nots,” with the underprivileged, and with the degraded and oppressed.
His early experiences with poor and oppressed people, his experience in World War I, and the inﬂuence of Anabaptists and early Christians he studied led he, Emmy, and their ﬁve children to begin the Bruderhof (“house of brothers”) community in Germany in 1920. The Arnolds founded this community along with 10 other people based on the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. They practiced prayer, fellowship, nonviolence, and a reverence for life. They held no private property, engaged in handiwork, printing, education, and hospitality.
Ten were invited, twenty have come. Pour water in the soup and bid all welcome.
Justice and love demand that everyone take part in simple practical work with a spade, hatchet, or rake. … In this way it will be possible for each person’s unique gifts to be kindled. The light that ﬂickers within each heart will then exhibit its once-hidden glow in scholarly research or in music, in expressive words, in wood, or in stone.
The Bruderhof community’s views of peace and justice quickly came into conﬂict with the growing militarism and nationalism in Germany. In 1933, the Gestapo raided the community and interrogated its members. They were unable to continue their practice of welcoming guests and could not continue printing books. Members left Germany to start another community in Switzerland. While in Switzerland, Arnold died suddenly after an operation in 1935. Emmy continued to work building communities for the next 44 years. Their commitment to community lives on in the Bruderhof communities today.
We live in community because we take our stand in the spiritual ﬁght on the side of all those who ﬁght for freedom, unity, peace, and social justice.
We must live in community because all life created by God exists in a communal order and works toward community.