We Believe in One All-embracing Community
The Founding of the Wheathill Bruderhof and a brief statement of our belief in relation to some decisive questions of community life. Lower Bromdon Farm, Burwarton, Bridgnorth, Shropshire: The Society of Brothers, 1943, 15 pages: Dear Friends, It is with great joy and thankfulness that we, the members of the Society of Brothers still resident in this country, are at last able to send you all a message and a greeting from our new community home in Shropshire. It has now been decided that the farm shall be known as “The Wheathill Bruderhof.” In sending you this message, we would like first to give you a short account of what has happened to us since the last big group of the brotherhood left for South America in April of 1941, and of the events which led up to the founding of the new Bruderhof in England. Also we feel very much urged in this dark hour of world suffering and perplexity to express again our faith and belief in the way of community as the true life for man, and as that life which alone holds the solution to the problem of world discord and need. Especially do we feel urged to state, in the light of this faith, where we stand in the matter of some of those decisive questions of community life about which there is so much unclarity and confusion to-day. As the result of the great suffering of mankind, many people are seeking for a better life—for life in community. This great urge towards community is being threatened by unclarity, which is doubt of a firm and enduring foundation upon which the way of community life can be trodden. We confess that it is our deepest concern that this urge towards community, which is everywhere awakening, should not be turned aside into false channels which lead only to breakdown and ruin, but that it should meet the clear answer of genuine community life based upon faith in the reality of the power of God’s love and the ever-renewed revelation of his one and enduring truth through his living Spirit. The Events which led to the Founding of “The Wheathill Bruderhof” Many of our friends will already know that when the last big group left in April, 1941, some of the members had to be left behind because the legal matters in connection with the disposal of the brotherhood’s property at Ashton Keynes were not completed. Three brotherhood members were left with seven others, who, although not them members, were earnestly considering joining us. The property was to be sold to the London Police Court Mission for the purpose of establishing a Home Office Approved School. To enable the majority of the brotherhood to leave, it had ///// agreed with the purchasers that they should move in before completion to enable them to take over the running of the farm. At the same time they were to prepare for the coming of the school. The little brotherhood group was to occupy two of the smaller buildings until completion had taken place. It was thought that completion would take only a few weeks, and the brotherhood group then intended to leave for South America. However, a number of unforeseen difficulties arouse. The solicitors of the purchasers, after a great deal of delay, refused to accept the powers of attorney which the brotherhood had left with two of the three members remaining inn England. It was already late Autumn before this became clear, and the consequence was that the deeds of the property had to be sent to the brotherhood in Paraguay for signature. This again has taken many months, and not until March 1942 were these practical matters sufficiently clear to enable us to leave the old place. During this time we realised that most of our friends thought we had all gone to Paraguay, and that no one was left at the old one-time Bruderhof. After some months we sent out reports of the work of the brotherhood in Paraguay, but we felt unable to say anything about the future of the little group in England, because our departure for South America still seemed imminent. In spite of this uncertainty, a few old, and some new friends, who in one way or another came to hear of our presence, visited us. It was, of course, not possible for those who never visited the Bruderhof before to get a picture of community as a complete and organically working life, for apart from the fact that we were such a small group, we, in effect, no longer possessed the farm, and we were therefore deprived of this practical expression of a communal working life on the land. The few young men, who were with us, went out to work for the intending purchasers on the old Bruderhof, or for neighboring farmers. Fortunately they were always able to work together as a team. Also, with the exception of one baby boy, who after a few months was able to go to Paraguay with his mother, we were without any children. This further limited the picture of a true and all-embracing community life. Our very small amount of accommodation made it exceedingly difficult for is to house those who wished to stay with us. It is therefore with thankfulness that we can now report that in spite of these very difficult and limiting conditions under which the little group was compelled to exist, a number of guests expressed their wish to join us, and to give in their lives to community. Already by the Autumn of 1941 a new group was being gathered together. Of the original group of seven new ones who had remained behind with the three members in April, four had been able to go to South America to join the Bruderhof there. These, however, had already been more that replaced, and by September the group had again grown to thirteen. Our whole situation now began to take on an new aspect. It seemed that there was still a task for us in this land. Also, we were informed that it would, in any case, not be possible for these new ones to leave the country. Already things seemed to be pointing to a new beginning in England. It was, of course, our very great longing to be able to rejoin our brothers and sisters in Paraguay, but we felt at the same time that we must be quite ready to do whatever task should be shown to us. Although we felt deeply the separation from the main body of the brotherhood, we were thankful that men and women were still being gathered for community life in this country, and that we were able to be used for this wonderful task. The group continued to grow, and when we celebrated Christmas in 1941 in the old printing house of the one-time Bruderhof, we were already a group of 20. The first member of a new children’s community has arrived through the adoption by one of our families of a little six month’s old baby girl. Through the increasing numbers of the group, our position at the old Brudethof became more and more difficult. Both for inner and outer reasons it became urgently necessary to find a new home where we could expand and build up a practical community life again. However, we wished to take such an important and decisive step only in complete agreement with the brotherhood in Paraguay. We had, of course, already reported to them al that was happening, and about the task which lay before us here. In the early days of 1942 we received word from the brotherhood that they were absolutely united with us in all that we felt about this task, and were in the deepest agreement that we should seek a new community home in England. All our friends will understand something of the joy and thankfulness for the clear recognition of this task which was given to us here and to our brothers in far-off Paraguay, and in which we were deeply united. The search for a new home ended in the finding of Lower Bromdon farm in Shropshire, and we were able to move in March. During the time between Christmas and the move we received further visits from interested friends. One of these contacts, which eventually proved to be most important, was with the High House community group of Bromsash. One of their members, Mary Cawsey, had visited the Bruderhof in 1940. During the summer of 1941 five of the little group who were still at Ashton Keynes visited Bromsash. Further visits followed, and in these early months of 1942 two of our new novice sisters stayed at High House for a week, during which time they were able to come into a very deep contact and to gain valuable experience in various kinds of practical work. This was followed by a visit to the Bruderhof by Mary Cawsey and Kenneth and Audrey Greenyer from the Bromsash group. As a result, it became clear that these three were also seeking for true community and when we moved from Ashton Keynes to Lower Bromdon they joined us. An added joy in this uniting was the coming of Ann, daughter of Kenneth and Audrey Greenyer, thus making the Community’s second child. About this time we were glad to be able to send another one of our small number to South America. It is with deep thankfulness we are able to say that these five, and the little baby, who have followed the main groups, have all been safely carried across the ocean. In looking back over these eleven months which we so unexpectedly spent at the old place, we are indeed greatly thankful for the very wonderful way in which this new group was gathered together. We see again in all this how little we can know of the tasks which lie ahead, and again, how much we must at all times be ready to go wherever the cause of community should call us, without any kind of condition or human planning. Since the new beginning at Lower Bromdon farm we have had much hard and difficult work, and always the struggle for true community. We have experienced much growth and building and for this we can only feel great wonder and thankfulness. Also sorrow has come to us deeply in these short months of the new beginning. The Wheathill Bruderhof is 1,000 feet up in the Clee Hill. The situation is glorious, with a wonderful view westwards of the Welsh mountains. To the east it is open, and on a clear day one can see some of the tall chimneys of Wolverhampton. The farm itself is 182 acres, and consists of very good medium loam; but the whole nature of the place is that of a good farm which, owing to a great shortage of labour, needs much attention to bring it to order. So there is much work for us ahead, repairing and laying the hedges, impfoving the pastures, cleaning the fields, many of which are extremely dirty, and ploughing up systematically the old turf. The early days and weeks on the farm were of extreme practical difficulty. There were two principal reasons for this. Firstly, ail the practical farmers of the brotherhood had gone to South America, and secondly, owing to the fact that we had not anticipated beginning a new farm here, the whole of the farm implements of the Cotswold Bruderhof had been sold to the purchasers. All our friends will realise how difficult and expensive it is to get these things in war time. Some of the new ones who have joined us have experience of special branches of land work, but we lacked one who could thoroughly over-see the whole of the farm. This time through which we have been going has naturally made us think very much of the time when some of those who are now in Paraguay first began to live in community twenty-two years ago in Germany. They also had to learn to be farmers. After about half-a-year here, we have experienced the joy of our first harvest. Both the hay and the corn harvests have proved good, and the fruit has been gathered in in abundance. At the moment we are bringing in the last of our potatoes, which have also yielded a good return. We still have our mangolds, swedes and turnips to lift. Now we are beginning the new farming year. Our programme will increase the ploughland to about 80 acres. A piece of land about 4 acres is market garden. We took over a flock of 60 sheep with their lambs, from the previous owner. In Addition we have 19 dairy shorthorn cows, and all the surplus milk is being sold. We have also hens, ducks and geese. In this very important aspect of our practical life we look forward with enthusiasm to the task of improving the quality of the land, and of reclaiming it for humanity in the name of brotherhood. Since the new start we have had a number of guests and visitors, and again the little community has grown. Five more people have asked to join us. One of these—Stanley Greaves of Whitley Bay—who has long been searching for community life, has brought with him his son John, aged 11 years. In undertaking the education of John, we have come to the beginning of another, Bruderhof school. We look forward to the coming of more children, and to the task of educating and bringing them up to know the practical,, »working life of true brotherhood. Altogether we now have [seven children. Two of these were born in the community since coining here, and we were able to adopt two others who came to us from very sad circumstances. It is with very great sorrow indeed we have to report that in the early months of our life here one of our much loved sisters, Muriel Marsh, died as a result of a severe accident. Muriel came to us in the Spring of 1941, and decided to go this way with us for her whole life just at the time when the last big group was departing for South America. She was one of those seven who remained behind with us. She died in faithfulness to the cause to which she had dedicated her life. We constantly receive letters of love and encouragement from the brotherhood in Paraguay. It has always been their very great wish to send us every inner support and help for the task of. building up the new Bruderhof. During the Summer it was decided that at least two of the brotherhood members at Primavera should return to England. Sydney and Marjorie Hindley arrived towards the end of September, and it was a great joy to welcome them to the Wheathill Bruderhof and to hear from them their wonderful story of the building up of the new Bruderhof Communities at Primavera in Paraguay. Their coming to us has been a very real expression of the love and unity which exists between the little Wheathill Bruderhof and the big communities in South America, and we are indeed especially thankful to these two, who were prepared again to undertake the dangerous sea crossing, and the difficulties of this long journey, to come to our help; but firstly, we are grateful to God for his care and protection in bringing them safely to us. Our friends will understand something of the great sorrow with which we have to report that Sydney and Marjorie Hindley’s first child, who was born soon after their arrival in England, died after only five weeks of life with us. In the passing of this little innocent child we have all felt deeply challenged to be ready to submit our lives in trust and lowliness to God—to be prepared to come and to go only at his bidding and for his service. In concluding this account of the beginning of the Wheathill Bruderhof, we wish to say how deeply thankful we feel to God for the gift of community life, and for all that He has given. Wherever community life is lived, either here in war-torn Europe or in wild Paraguay, it carries the same significance for men and the same message of hope. It answers the confusion and despair of the world with a real life of love, peace and brotherhood. We see the need to dedicate ourselves to the service of such a life, and the proclamation of its message of hope throughout the world, as the only true and worthwhile task, and therefore we wish to state something of the faith and basis which we believe to be the only faith and basis on which such a life can be lived, and such a task approached.
We Believe in One All-embracing Community
We believe in community as the one and only true life for men. We believe in community as the one and only way of unconditional love towards, and fellowship with, our fellow beings of God’s mankind. Therefore we believe in community as God’s perfect way of love for all men. We believe in that community of life and work which is the fellowship of his Spirit.
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