Judith Rice on a sixteenth-century sect in the modern world.
A former tuberculosis sanatorium in Sussex today houses the Darvell Bruderhof, Britain's only Hutterian community. Here, 250 'brothers and sisters' live according to the model of the early church, uncompromising in their Christian ethic. All property is held in common. They are pacifists. They refuse to vote, swear oaths or enter public office. The basic pattern of their life, in these respects, has not changed since the first community was founded in Moravia in 1528.
The Hutterians are 'Anabaptists', or 'Rebaptisers' – a name originally bestowed, by their opponents, on radical Protestant groups which taught that baptism should follow an adult confession of faith. But present-day Anabaptists express mild regret at the emphasis the name implies. For them, the key is simply their commitment to the teaching of the Gospels. 'Jesus calls men to a practical way of life', the Hutterian Chronicle explains, 'to love and brotherhood, to God's reign of unity and love ...'