----Friendly Crossways----

Transcript Of Last Meeting 1991

Edited excerpts from the last full circle meeting, Monday morning, August 12, 1991, at the Second Friendly Crossways KIT Conference, Littleton, Massachusetts:
Ruth Baer Lambach: Let's begin by welcoming the representatives from the Bruderhof. [Marjorie, Jeremy, Amy and Annie Hindley introduce themselves] Okay, welcome. And you're from Deer Spring. This is our last meeting, and many people have a long way to go. We thought we would go around and talk about what was significant for you on this weekend. We will call upon Susan to go first.
Susan Welham: What I want to do is read a poem that was written by a very dear friend, because I think this struggle to reach inner peace and healing is universal. It's not an ex-Bruderhof experience. It is across the board, and I think we're all trying to do that. It is about arriving at peace within and establishing our own personal relationship with God, that we then know within ourselves what's right for us. The poem my friend wrote is called "A Letter."
The music plays,
resonates in the blood from my wounds,
wipes the mire from my back and torn clothing,
soothes and salutes my victory.
What is winning?
What is losing?
I'm not the victor.
I'm not the vanquished.
I am a virgin, newly dressed
Newly born from my own loins
And I belongeth not to womankind,
For I am woman of my own kind,
Woman child born into freedom
Into my own life,
Into my own.
But I had to fight.
Oh, how I had to fight
for thee, for me and for my freedom.
Now tis done
And they who came between us
know they cannot take me as their own
for I am not my own to give,
for I am one with the universe,
to rainbows gold and gossamer to you.
And they who came between us understood me not
for I spoke a foreign tongue that bore no malice,
that murmured soft as mother's milk
of what can be and what my life cannot.
And I am spent,
for I have travelled hard across the deserts
vast and rugged,
made of time.
I need to rest,
to slumber on your shore.
My exile will soon be over.
I love thee,
Goddess within.
And still you smile at me
in candlelight.
That's from my dear friend Jane Knowles who's had a very hard life and who now works with the elderly and promotes the care of elderly people so they can live on their own in their old age. She very, very sincerely believes that we are never too old to make peace within and to continue to grow and develop as human beings.
Ramon Sender: I wanted just to say how much this gathering has meant to me personally. I felt a real spirit of love in the group. I was amazed at how quickly the group coalesced into an organic whole and how much much caring and love was shared with people as the healing process started and people began to share their deeper pains and emotions. I've been very impressed with that. I have been part of many different groups, and I've never seen a group coalesce into an organic unit as quickly and as naturally.
Thank you very much, all of you, for coming. I really feel a deep attachment and love for all of you KITfolk who came, and we certainly will be seeing each other again.
Judith Levy-Sender: I'm Ramon's wife, and just would like to say that this year I feel a deepening attachment to the people I met last year. I also feel that it was just a wonderfully enrichening exchange and sharing of pain. The first day of the conference I felt that people were tremendously full of pain, but I feel there has been at least the beginning of healing... I think there's a denial on the part of the community of the suffering, but I think there's as much denial by some of the people who came of their own suffering. The other day when I told the Hindleys not to stay but come on Monday, I felt very badly. That is not my way, to be rude like that. But it's important to understand that some of the people coming to the conference are so wounded that they really need to air their feelings before your coming. And I hope you understand that. I want to thank you for the food you brought, and I want to thank everybody for baring their souls and beginning to acknowledge each other. I look forward to my visit to the grandchildren. Thank you all.
Art Rosenblum: I have a lot to say but I realize if I took much time and everyone else took that time, we wouldn't get around the circle. I read the letter which the Bruderhof people wrote and I'm very much in accord, and feel very strongly for a real reconciliation with the Bruderhof. But I also feel that the Bruderhof people have very little idea of the tremendous changes that would have to take place with us and with the Bruderhof for that to be possible. But I wish we would work on it. I will try to speak more fully to the brotherhood on another occasion about that.
Joy Johnson MacDonald: I came to the KIT conference to meet up with people who are very dear to me, especially years ago, and to have a lot of reminiscences of Bruderhof days and to find out what has been going on in their life since. I've not had any contact with any of these people apart from my very close family. But in fact, the conference has been much more. It's left me in considerable turmoil, but it has been a very enrichening experience. I want to thank everyone, and I really do look forward to being able to have another KIT conference next year in England. I hope that some of the first generation of community people who live in England attend, who were not able to come here mostly because of their age and physical condition but also because many could simply could not afford coming to the United States. I'm thinking a lot about them and next year's conference. I want to say thank you to each and every one because to me it has been one of the most significant experiences of my life.
Elizabeth Johnson Simon: I've gained many things from this conference, from meeting everybody. Many of the things I had hoped for, but if I were to pick one experience it would be hearing the accounts of people about their experiences in the community and seeing how many of them were unable to tell their story without tears after, in many cases, 20, 30 years, and to realize that a community which professed to stand for so much that was good could cause so much hurt and harm. To realize that hurt and harm -- those lives cannot now be relived. What happened, happened. People have to move on, but to feel that, if nothing else, I would like the community to be able now not to go on causing harm. Not to go on causing situations in which people will be left in tears. Situations which, in 5 years time, they will say 'We are very sorry."
Barnabas Johnson: I was deeply grateful for the first KIT conference, and I've been deeply grateful for the second. And I'm deeply, deeply grateful to the KIT process, to the healing it's brought to me, the healing I'm convinced it is bringing to many of us, and the healing that I think it is also bringing, will bring, and I hope will bring even more to the Bruderhof which I care about deeply, and whose members I care about very, very deeply. Through that process, I've been able to renew relationships which, partly as a result of deliberate action on the Bruderhof's part, could not be renewed because none of us knew where each other were. Until the KIT process started, it was impossible for us to know where we were. When I was 8 or 9 years old, I had a precious little buddy called Susie Welham, right behind me. All these years I wondered whatever happened to Susie Welham. And then a few months ago in KIT, there was a letter from Susie Welham. My buddy Susie! Still alive in Australia! Australia, no less! I never thought ever again that I would see a human being with a name tag saying 'Susie Welham.' And there she was! Although it was a very special remaking of contact with all of you here, never did I think I'd see that particular name attached to a body of a person for whom I cared so much before. So I'm very, very grateful to the KIT process. It's taken on a life of its own. It's going to continue to take on a life of its own. I don't think that we exist because of vengeance, and I know we're not going to continue to exist out of vengeance. And so again, I'm very, very grateful that we're all here together.
Timothy Johnson: After many, many years of no contact and no expectations of contact with the Bruderhof, and very little contact with ex-Bruderhofers (there were some minor contacts), a few years ago a process began, and it started with my mother beginning to move towards a return, and so forth. Its next phase was the beginnings of KIT and suddenly, as Barney was describing, people who I knew from the past were coming back into focus. I'd always known that they were out, but suddenly to realize that they were there, they were doing things. And to find out that the pain and hurt that many of us have thought we suffered alone have been shared in a variety of ways by other people -- all this became part of a new phase of my life in some sense. SO, there is tremendous gratitude for what KIT has done. As far as this conference is concerned, I know there was concern by people at the Bruderhof about this. I had been asked several times and I made my position very clear. I think KIT is a great thing. I think it's part of a healing process for many of us. When I sensed a little bit of concern in one of the [Bruderhof] letters, I indicated that I really had no idea of what was going to happen at this conference. The only thing I knew was that there would be fellowship. I figured there would be tears, there would be laughter. And I said so. It's been that. For me it has been just a great thing to just meet with people...
I am particularly glad that 2 ends of the chronological spectrum have been represented here. I'm speaking of the Hazeltons and the senior Trumpi's here at the one end, and others here who were not born when I was expelled. To see what they have gone through, and what the common things that we have! And to me, and I think to others also, there is a wish to have some reaching out, some understanding of what is going on. I think that maybe there are things that we can also help the Bruderhof with in understanding at the same time. But I know that this has been a tremendous experience, a tremendous help to all of us. I'm looking forward to a continuation of the process. I have no idea how it's going to evolve, but I'm looking forward to following it.
Heidi Kleiner Strickland: I think there are a couple of things, millions of things, that KIT has done for me and means to me, but to focus on just maybe two. One of the things that KIT has allowed us to do is to be heard, and a lot of us never felt like we were heard. We weren't heard in the Bruderhof, and then we were out alone with no people to communicate with, and so this is an opportunity where each one of us, no matter what kind of lifestyle we've chosen or no matter what our beliefs are, no matter what our sexual preference is, it doesn't matter. We are heard and we are accepted and we are honored and we are respected. That is a very healing process for all of us, and something that we didn't experience in our pasts. So that is Number One big value to me. The other thing is that for me KIT is now a new family, and a very, very important extended family. So many of us have families that were torn apart, wrenched apart in a very, very painful way. To now have a family all over the world that we can trust, that we can depend on, that we can talk to and communicate with, is an incredible gift to me. I want to thank all of us for being that to me, and I'm looking forward to being that to you.
Helmut Wegner: I think all of the things that have been said here, all of us feel. I think there's a tremendous gratefulness on all of our parts to each of the ones who participated for allowing us to hear each others' experiences, but more importantly, to allow the process. I think it's really important that you understand that there's a process that needs to play itself out. The process is one of facilitating conversation, of facilitating communication, of listening and hearing and empathizing with whatever the needs are that the people who grew up in the community feel, and the hurts that they have experienced. Whether or not we or whether or not the community thinks these are valid or not isn't really important. What's important is that people feel them and they need to have an outlet to express these feelings, and KIT has been really important in providing a vehicle for that expression. The value of this conference cannot be articulated. It has to be felt by the people who participated. I know how the community perceives KIT. My parents have talked to me. I've talked to them about it. They've asked me not to be active in it, and I haven't really been active. This is the first time I've really participated in any KIT, and I know the pain it causes the Bruderhof.
I think it's really important for the Bruderhof to have a really open heart and mind and listen to what KIT is saying and try not to be offended by some of the things that are being said. Listen to the hurt and the needs that are expressed, and try to react to those. That's what's really important, and try to learn from those. And say, "What is it that we can do as a community to prevent those hurts from being re-expressed in the future by children, by adults, by whomever it is?" There's a need and it needs to be met that hasn't been met. My real hope out of this conference and the continuing process -- I reemphasize the word 'process' -- is that the community can be open about it, and that we can somehow come to a point where we can talk to one another with respect, without fear, in openness and with an open hand, without acrimony, without this tendency to collapse in and on ourselves and close out those people who want to touch you with their need. That's really important. I hope you can take that back with you [to the community]. I would like very much to have an open exchange.
Blair Purcell: I'm Margot Wegner's husband, and I think what the conference has given me is a real opportunity, almost for the first time, to understand her background in the years before I met her, both during the time she was in the community and for the time after before I met her, and to appreciate that. And equally, of course, to understand the backgrounds of her brothers and sisters, both in the community and out.
Joshua Maendel: I think the thing what struck me the most here is -- honestly, when KIT first started, when Ramon first called me, I said we had a similar experience after we left, my wife included, where we swapped notes about our Bruderhof experience and came to terms that there was enough negative there that I could say, "Okay, that is that, my life takes a new turn in this direction. And by and large, we healed and resolved our experience of community to a large extent, and then soon after that we had a personal experience with Christ, of which there was so much lip service done at the community. That was the crowning point in our lives as far as understanding the Bruderhof experience. So much for our hurts and fears. The reason we hesitated coming here, like when Ramon first called me up, was that it was so distant. It was something we had resolved. It wasn't buried and scarred over. It was plain healed. But coming here, and for a long time we debated, I am so glad we came not for my own sake but for other people's sake.
I had a little picture of how the conference was like the emergency room of a hospital. You know, a busy weekend in a big city. It was like the civil war where the wounded came back and they ran out of anesthesia and an amputation was needed and it was more painful than the wound but the doctors knew that if they didn't amputate, gangrene would set in and it was certain death. This is just about how I feel about some people that came here that had sustained such tremendous wounds in their dealing with the Society of Brothers. We heard two testimonies yesterday. There was Al Hinkey. He's a big person. You wouldn't think there was any hurt in that person, and yet the hurt was so deep you could see that even though it was necessary to tear the scab off and let it bleed, let it come out, or the abscess come out so that it could be dealt with. It was so heart-rending. These are wounds that were done during the formative years, and those things just formed your character because they were inflicted while the person was a young child, growing up. The father was continuously and repeatedly torn away from the family for some senseless reason, for the pursuit of an ideal. The family bond, the marital bond put on a level subservient to where it was placed. The sanctity of that level was eroded and torn down and put on the level of an ideal. These are the wounds that people have come here with, and they have at least started to begin to bring them out in the open and deal with them. I believe that the healing process for many of us is just simply because somebody was able to listen to them, that they're brought out in the open and that they themselves can deal with it.
Elsa Pleil Maendel: I'm Josh's wife and I am very much in agreement with what everyone says, Ramon, Judy and especially Heidi. I didn't come here for myself because, like Josh says, I have absorbed all this. I have found my life and there is no bitterness for any hurt that was done, because that's in the past. The community means nothing to me, but I felt in my heart that I wanted to reach out to those that hurt, those that you know need you, just need a hug, need a loving hand, just need your smile or even just your being there for them. For that reason I came, and I found much more than that. I felt just knowing that there are so many people from all walks of life and different stories, like Heidi says. We just were open, open to sharing one another's hurts. For that I'm so thankful for KIT, and I also want to thank so much for the work you do, and also special thanks to Diane Ostrom also who constantly worked in the kitchen and let us talk, and all the ones that put so much effort into making this possible.
Charlie Lamar: I guess I'm thinking that we in KIT are claiming for ourselves what all people have a right to -- to know the people with whom they grew up. Why should we come from a small town, as it were, and suddenly have some people, for reasons that don't make sense, say that suddenly we can have nothing to do with all the people we ever knew, all that we were ever taught was good, and be thrown out into a world that we were taught was evil? Why should we have to live life alone? Why should our experience have to develop new meaning to the word alone? But in KIT, I think that some of this is coming back to make sense, and I also think that, although the Bruderhof does not know it, I hope some day they will know that the best thing to happen to the Bruderhof is KIT.
Dave Ostrom: This is my second year here. Everybody that's spoken has addressed my feelings. One point I would like to make: for 32 years in essence my whole identity had been stripped away and family torn up and the community refused to acknowledge my existence. And I find it rather odd that after the first KIT conference, within 60 days, I'm at Woodcrest and things are getting smoothed and very positive. There is a lot of concern in the community about what takes place here. I would like to point out that I had problems with people both in and out of the community. Margot Wegner and I were laughing about some of the things that happened to the children. For years I thought of Margot as this little monster that bugged me no end, and all of a sudden I find out that she's a very interesting and nice person. In the same way that the Bruderhof wants to resolve differences, that's occurring here. Like you say, it's a process, and I look forward to many more.
Thomas Mansheim: I'm from St. Peter's College in New Jersey, but I'm not here as an academic but as a friend of Ruth Baer's. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank the KIT people for allowing me to share this as it's a very important experience for those of us who are in relationships with somebody with a Bruderhof background, very important for us to see some of the experiences and dynamics that shaped them and made them into the people they are. So I'm grateful to KIT and the KIT people for allowing me to share this.
Annaliese Trumpi: I must say I'm very glad I came. It gave me an opportunity not just to meet many people that I haven't seen for 30 years, but also to share and to find out. Many of us have gone through very much the same experience, even though the circumstances might have been different. And I'm very thankful for KIT because through KIT we have this opportunity for sharing and of experiencing also a lot of healing. By sharing you can put your past hurts aside, and I have seen that happen this weekend. I just hope that we can continue in this vein. And maybe extend this also to the B'hof.
Eberhard Trumpi: I don't have too much to say other than the hope that has been expressed already. Conflict between the Bruderhof and KIT will somehow be faced by the Bruderhof in a different manner than it was handled up to now. I feel that the Bruderhof has handled a lot on the one hand, on the other hand [they continue] defensive about it. I can see how that's come about, because I think as we go through life and [study] the history of the Bruderhof, it has become an oppressive system. What started originally in a spirit of a free flow of sharing, a spontaneous exchange, somehow led through the years into exactly the opposite. A controlled environment, a very controlled environment. It could happen to any group getting together. Always there are individuals involved who are partly to blame and could be blamed, but that would be kind of useless to pursue. I'd say it would be more helpful to start a real dialogue, so that a real openness and sensitivity could evolve. You have to understand how the bridge can be built.
Michael Caine: I don't like talking to a crowd, so I'll just try and say something. I don't know how successful I'll be, but anyhow. For a start, I'm very glad I came. And to meet, re-meet so many brothers and sisters. One brother and one sister I'm especially glad and that is Balz and Monika. And Heidi Kleiner whom I knew as a baby. So many people! And to meet people also like Joshua and Tim who think different, but yet we can be brothers. I hope the day will come where we have a KIT meeting and there will be all of us who were at Primavera. And just because some of us will go to heaven and some of us are free to go to hell, still we are all brothers and sisters in the world. Time is so short and so pathetic -- why waste it? And what I especially feel is also that if I ever in my life have experienced a resurrection, it's the resurrection of Xavie Sender. I never met her, but I'm sure I know her spirit, because KIT is Xavie Sender.
Julius Rubin: If I don't get a chance to say my goodbyes to you individually, I say goodbye to you now. I want to thank you for the welcome and the warmth and the openness for which you sought me out and told your stories. I came to you as a stranger and I never felt so much love. One other thing. I'm writing a book on my own, as I've said. The title of the book is called "The Other Side of Joy: Religious Melancholy Among the Bruderhof." I've heard an awful lot. Many stories have been told about forms of melancholy and suicide and mental depression among people who have been excluded and expelled, and I would just welcome any openness and any sharing that people in the Hutterian Brethren, the Society of Brothers, would like to share in this book. I had a wonderful feeling of openness from people in KIT and from people at this conference. I would like the book to be as complete, as comprehensive, as fair as possible. And I welcome any contributions from anyone, whatever their association with the Bruderhof. Thank you.
Benjamin Zablocki: This is my second KIT conference. I feel very close to all of you, and I've been very happy to be here.
Loy McWhirter: I don't really feel safe saying what happens to me when I come here in front of Bruderhof people and I'm not going to talk about that. But I'm glad I came.
Bruce Greene: I'm here with Loy, and this is my second conference also. And I'm very glad to see you all again. You all made me feel very welcome. Thank you.
Glen Greenwood: I was here last year and had a wonderful time. The same thing happened this year. As well as all the sharing and the hurt that comes out, we've had some very wonderful, happy times too, with volleyball and laughter way into the night. So I'll remember those times and the younger people that came and had to go back to their jobs already. But it's a wonderful experience. I think there are younger people who will in the future share more. It's too fresh for them to be able to come here at this time, but I think as time goes on and they get more reassured of the help that is available, and the release, I think it will evolve into a very wonderful help for everyone.
Miriam Arnold Holmes: I am Hardi Arnold's daughter. This is my second year at the KIT conference, and I just really want to reiterate what some other people have said. It really touched me that KIT created a family for all of us that we didn't have, and that this is one place where we could, some of us for the first time in our lives, have gotten unconditional love and respect from each other. And I wish that experience for everybody, and I hope that if the whole world had an experience like that, this would be a better place to live in. And wish that for all, including the B'hof.
Jeanette Charles: I'm here with Peter Holland, a complete outsider. It's been a very enrichening experience. I would just like to thank you all for allowing me to be part of it.
Peter Holland: For me it's been a very moving experience. I echo what's already been said. Before we left, in England it was said, "You'll hear a lot of bad about the community. You'll hear a lot of poison. Perhaps it's better if you don't go." I feel I've grown up now and I can make up my own mind. I came here with a completely open mind, thinking possibly it was just my family and my parents who were thrown out as it were in the 'sixties -- and we suffered. I often went back to the Bruderhof and tried to get answers to what mom and Dad had done wrong and why we were separated so often. What I had done wrong, why I had been taken away from the family unit. I could never get an answer, and after 5, 10 years, I said give up odds on trying to find out. I decided to make a life and carry on and never be allowed to go back. My Dad's always been very keen to go back, and he's still trying to get back now. But when I arrived here, I suddenly realized that so many people had shared the same experience, and ours was possibly one of the better ones. Perhaps I should be grateful to the people who threw us out. At least we were one family unit and we stuck together very closely. Our family's scattered all over the world, but we always meet and support each other. To come here and see that so many people had far worse experiences, and be able to share them with all of you -- I'm very, very grateful to KIT. Thank you.
Johanna Patrick Homann: I arrived here from my mother's funeral. My mother has had so many years of suffering because of what the Bruderhof did to her. They promised to always take care of her. My father was sent out, and then they abandoned her and all her children, in poor health, living on the government. They abandoned us to a world we didn't know anything about, completely naive, trusting everybody. And my mother never said a bad word about them [the Bruderhof]. And I always wondered why, why they did that to us. I left home. I made my own life. I am in a very bad marriage situation. I'm away from my family. I have nobody there. My husband wants to know nothing about my background. He has no sympathy for what I'm going through, and I felt so alone all these years! Now I don't feel so alone any more. People care about me. My mother doesn't suffer any more. I would like to say to the Bruderhof, "Why can't you support the healing of the hurt you caused? Why can't you reach out? You know some of us can't afford to come to this place, but we need to be healed! Financially, I can't afford it. My husband isn't supportive, but I need to feel I belong to somebody and to heal, and the least you could do is offer that kind of support. So it's possible that we can get whole again and get on with our lives.
Margaret Jeffries Adlington: I came here having read the KIT letters and recognizing quite a few names. We all know each other's name and we all feel we belong together. I just recognize from these letters that we are still all speaking the same language. So I came here hoping to meet people I haven't seen for years, hoping to meet people that I knew the names of and knowing that we'd all speak the same language and that I could laugh. I've experienced all that. But I get back to what Joy said, that it's just been one of the most significant experiences of my life. I'm a Christian. What we've heard, and so many things that we go through in life -- we want to help. Truly we want to help. But we can't, or we feel we can't. But I know that God knows. Most days I have a little book and I just spend time praying to God. It's a useful little book which actually guides me to some reading in the Bible. This morning I felt it was important that I spend that time and just bring everything, the whole KIT conference, to God and just hand it to him. And I said, "Where to now? God, you know the pain. Why? How much longer? What are we going to do? Tell me, Lord." Then I opened my book and it said Psalm 44. I'd like to read it for you.
Psalm 44
We have heard with our ears, Oh God, our fathers have told us what you did in their days. In days long ago. With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our fathers. You crushed the peoples and made our fathers flourish. It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory. It was your right hand. Your arm and the light of your face, for you loved them. You are my king and my God who decrees victories for Jacob. Through you we pushed back our enemies. Through your name we trampled our foes. I do not trust in my bow. My sword does bring me victory, but you give us victory over our enemies. You put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long and we praise your name forever. But now you have rejected and humbled us. You no longer go out with our armies. You made us retreat before our enemy and adversaries have plundered us. You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations. You sold your people for pittance, gaining nothing from their sale. You have made us a reproach to our neighbors. The scorn and derision of those around us. You have made us a byword among the nations. The people shake their heads at us. My disgrace is before me all day lone, and my face is covered with shame at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me because of the enemy who is bent on revenge. All this has happened to us though we have not forgotten you or been false to your covenant. Our hearts have not turned back. Our feet have not strayed from your path. But you punished us and made us a haunt for jackals and covered us with deep darkness. If we had forgotten the name of God or spread out our hands to a foreign God, would not God have discovered it since He knows the secrets of the heart? Yet for you sake we face death all day long. We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. Awake, oh Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and depression? We are brought down to the dust. our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up and help us. Redeem us because of your unfailing love.
Vince Lagano: I feel privileged to have been with KIT from the beginning, and I think we give KIT too much credit. It's really created by all of you, and in a sense was created by the Bruderhof. You should feel very much a part of Bruderhof history and keep it in your place as much as you keep anything else. I've had a hard time finding myself again, after the community, because I felt I had given myself to it. So I had another life when I left, starting over again. I may have had it easier than most, finding adjustment, being from New York. I find that there's a great variety of people here, and I feel like I almost found a wider family that has replaced the lost family of the Bruderhof.
John Greenwood: I didn't come last year. My brother came, and when he got home, he called me up right away and said "You should have come." And I asked, "What happened?" And he tried to explain. He just kept telling me, "You should have been there." We talked about it a lot, and I definitely decided to come this year. I thought I knew what to expect, but what I got out of this was being able to share not only the hurt, but also the good times. And I think that for you from the community, it's important to know that we aren't here, or I, speaking for myself, I'm not here bashing the community. We're here to think about the hurt that was done, trying to understand it, being able to talk about it at home. In my own community at home. How can I go and talk to people about my childhood, my experience of what happened? They don't understand it. They can't relate to it. Being able to come here -- most of you people I've never met. Some of you I knew as you know older people -- I heard the names. But I felt perfectly safe telling you my story, sharing with you like I haven't even been able to share with some people that should be much closer to me and they weren't judging me. They weren't saying "It wasn't that way," or "It was this way." They took it for what it was. And it's been almost 20 years since I left, but it still hurts. Here, talking to people, I actually had it better than most. I thought I was treated badly. What I would like to see is to make sure that the community doesn't tear up families. It involves -- that's my biggest fear, why I haven't felt free to write to KIT and to talk about it because I don't want to lose my family who's still there. I want to be able to visit. I want them to be able to visit me. It's important. But I'm just tremendously thankful for this weekend. It's meant a lot to me. I feel as you all said, or many of you have said, that I now have a family, people I can talk to and share. I can travel across the country now and never stay in a hotel! Yeah, internationally too. I'm just glad I came. If there's one in Engand, I'll try to make it, but it will be very difficult. And I certainly want to have another one here next year. That's all I have.
Joan Nicholson: My heart is very, very full. Thanks for this weekend. I was here last year, too. And I'm going to Vietnam, something I never thought I'd be able to do and I almost didn't come here. I thought 'I just can't do it; it's too much for me.' And then it just seemed right to come to the conference. I just knew it was the thing to do. And I know now why, because again it's been a powerful experience of sharing with brothers and sisters. I feel that all of us in this room are children of God. I'm a Christian, or I try to be, and I just believe that we all need to help one another wherever we are. Search out to do what is right and help in our small areas, and reach out beyond that when that is what is called for. I think especially of the children. I have none of my own, but I've worked with children, though, much of my life and I feel this for children everywhere. They need to be respected, and there is that joy and life in children. That's where we can find Christ, and that must not be squelched. Each person is individual. We are all different. We are all one in the community of God, and there is wonder in that. There is a mystery in that, and to allow children to grow up, each one in their individuality, so that they can then share fully, develop their potential. That's what I wish for all of us. I'm very pleased that it was possible for you members of the community to come and share a little bit of what happened to us this weekend. It was a profound experience for me to be able to be here and to listen to the things people had to say and were able to express. I think a lot of healing has been going on, and I'm especially pleased that the community was able to share with us a little bit because I feel that we are very much still connected and will be, and what is happening to us ex-members will in some way affect the community. I feel that what happens in the community, what the community stands for, also in a way affects us. The fact that we had a very positive experience here this weekend is also positively affecting the community. So I'm very pleased about this. Thank you.
Rosemary Welham: I'd like to play a song that's meant a lot to me over the years. And I'd like to play this song for the children, because we, as adults, we have a choice. We bring children into the world, so let us just remember how precious they are. I'd also like to thank KIT for giving me the opportunity to express myself. Oh - let somebody else go now. I'll have to get the tape fixed!
Margot Wegner Purcell: This weekend I've gained so many new brothers and sisters, and I just want to thank you for that. And I want to thank Ramon and all the people who work for KIT, Charlie and Diane also for helping -- and it's just been overwhelming! I'm very emotional, and it's wonderful to see so many people like Balz and Monika who, when I was growing up in Oak Lake, were the people to fear in my heart. I didn't like to be approached by them because it always meant you were going to be talked to in a way that I didn't really like. And they're so nice! And to meet just every one of you and to hear your stories, and especially for you to listen to me. It's just been wonderful to really count for a change, to have what I say be also important. I don't feel like I've ever really been listened to, and I want to thank each one of you who have listened to me. Thanks a lot.
Balz Trumpi: Before I start to say something about the meeting, I would like you in the Bruderhof to bring a personal request to the Bruderhof. To help Johanna immediately with a large sum of money permanently so that she can start a new life. I ask you to bring this request to the top leadership. I will phone personally in a few days to the leadership to find what the response will be to my request that you help Johanna. I know you can't give an answer to that. OK? Do you understand what I say?
Now this was a very great experience for me. I'm sure it was for Monika. This was a very great experience for me and Monika. I knew and we knew when we would come here that we would meet many people, former brothers or children, who had been badly hurt in the past; badly hurt also by me. I know it was not only negative. There were many positive things there, but that's not what counts at the moment. But what really overwhelmed me is that in spite of all that, there was a fellowship, there was a communication. There was not hatred. There was understanding. And this is something unbelievably great. I'm very glad I came. Also we are so many different people here. Everybody has his own belief, his own convictions, and nevertheless, we fit together. Now this is actually how it should be. We are not dictating to each other what to do, what to believe. We don't condemn each other if we believe differently, which is the very essence of a lot of religions. If you don't believe like me, you go to hell and I go to heaven. And you might be one day surprised who you find in hell. And because we just don't know all the absolute things, we are very limited in our task. So this was a very big experience for me, to find really so much -- I cannot say different than -- love and consideration for each other in this whole circle. Really. This is tremendous! I think this is an outstanding thing, that all the people can talk up, talk and not have to be afraid to say a wrong word and then be smashed and shut up, or something like that, but really could speak freely which is very, very important.
So I would like to thank especially Ramon and Judy, and I noticed Dave working very hard and Charlie Lamar. And Heidi, I owe her in the kitchen where I didn't do anything. I know how much work it is to organize, right? They really did a lot of the work and we really should thank them very much. I told Judy I expected to work, but nevertheless I didn't do too good. Next time I'll do better. And, as John said, it's amazing. You can travel the United States and find a place in every state. You can go to England, many places you can go, and say 'hello!' And be very comfortable. You can go to Canada... So thank you for all your love. It was a great experience.
Monika Trumpi: What we experienced in this group was just overwhelming. in this KIT conference. I say something, though, that my parents, Eberhard and Emmy Arnold, and a few other friends started in Sannerz a very genuine living-together in a spirit of love and peace and understanding for people and especially people in need they wanted to reach. The children who were in need. Everybody who was in need they wanted to reach through their lives, surrendering to their cause, and very directly and realistically they did that. They took in a lot of orphan children and had a lot of people who were in need. And so I felt it's overwhelming to find here that, through Xavie's life, it was given here in this KIT conference that there was something started here new. What Muschi expressed, an understanding, an unconditional understanding, an unconditional love and an unconditional reaching-out to those who are in need or those who want to be heard. They can speak out and can be heard (and some say for the first time in their lives) their pain. They could really speak out and be heard and be themselves and have a loving family here. And that impressed me very much and Balz very much... I'm sure it will grow in the same spirit of unconditional love it has been. For this work and for everyone on this earth, and especially for the children who were hurt, we need this outreaching hand of love.
Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe: I'm the daughter of Hans Zumpe and Emy Margret Arnold. I had everything going against me coming to this conference. Still I was led through all the obstacles one by one, and I managed to be here. I see a leading in this, and I can only say it was an overwhelming experience for me to find real brothers and sisters. For many years I felt very lonely in my heart because, like many of you, I am a B'hof child and I was alone in Holland where people don't understand where you come from. And now I know I have a family. Last evening when we were sitting on the lawn outside and were singing together, I had a feeling as though my grandparents would be very pleased with that. I just had this feeling that's the spirit they wanted mankind to fight for. I had the feeling that something was given to us that was actually the start of where we came from. And I'm so thankful that I was able to be with you and I'm sure the bond we have with each other is a lasting one. It's just there and it's a lasting one and it's a bond of love and forgiveness, and that's all we need to be brothers and sisters. Thank you.
Rosemary Welham: So this is for the children. (The tape of "Nothing But A Child.")
Ruth Baer Lambach: For me this is the second conference, and it feels like one is coming back to a heap where once there was a beautiful vase that was intact. We all experienced the community, I think, as a beautiful place, as our home, and there are a great many beautiful things that we take from this experience of ours as children, as young people, into the world. For me, coming back to this conference is coming back and picking up one of these pieces, one of these shards that was damaged, that was fragmented with the fragments of my life. I think every time we come back and meet together with people who have a common experience, we patch one more piece together and eventually we experience ourselves as whole.
Loy McWhirter: Ruth, would you not say "we," please. Would you speak for yourself?
Ruth Baer Lambach: OK, I speak for myself. This is my experience, Every time I have gone to a conference, every time I have written something, every time I have read the letters in KIT, I experience a little more healing, and this is what the conference here has been for me... Are we going to ask people from the community to say what they got out of this weekend?
Michael Caine: Could we just sing a song? I was thinking about it last night. It was one of Adolf Braun's children's songs.
Jeremy Hindley: I grew up in the Bruderhof. When I was 18, my family was put outside, my mother who was a widow and us four children, and we also had hard times, but also real family times. And now I found my way back, my mother found her way back before I did. And just sitting and listening to what everybody's been saying... I don't have a clear head. I know that much. But just from a gut kind of feeling. We all have hurts. Life -- there's so much hurt in life. There's no question about it. Every human soul has hurts going from cradle to grave. And I just feel a longing that at least for us, we try to be Christians. We fail, I know we, I fail. I know that. But it just came back to where it says, "Forgive that you may be forgiven." That's what I want to do. And personally, I feel that actually would be our healing. That will be our only really freeing, that is we, if I can forgive, than I will be forgiven. And I think it goes for all human beings. Whatever was done, whatever wrong was inflicted upon them, and I'm sure, you know, I can't speak for the whole Bruderhof, I can only speak for myself. I do wrong to people the whole time. I try not to, but I 'm sure I step on toes. I'm just bound to. I'm a clumsy ass and somehow to, for me to forgive other people who step on my toes so that they will also forgive me, and that to me is it in a nutshell. So I'm glad you let us come. We're a muddle- headed lot, but -- it's just, you know...
Marjorie Hindley: There's a lot one could say, really. Perhaps just practically I could say that we brought along, for anyone to look through who'd like to, a book which came to life not very long ago, that of Bob Wagoner who with his wife came down to Paraguay... And the illustrations in it, the drawings, are by Peter's father Leslie, who had great joy in coming to us and making these drawings... It's there for you to peruse. I have to take it back with me, but it will be out in October, as far as we know...
Someone: There's a suggestion that you send it to the people who experienced Paraguay as a gift.
Marjorie Hindley: I'll pass that on. I'll pass that on. We came specially with the task of listening. And I have been listening...
Just historically I'd like to say we knew that these hard things had happened in Paraguay... And the '60s time was to get us back on the rails. That was the whole purpose of that '60s time, to get us back on the rails. And when I first met Balz after how many years? Forty or so?... I mentioned the last time I met him in '48, and Balz said "You were one of those chucked out." Well I suppose I was. The thing is, we cleared it up then as we thought in '48 and... I still felt a guilt and I have to say to Barney Johnson, you are one of the ones I felt because in my desire to hold onto my own children, I was not free to help where others were getting into difficulties, and I really had a guilt. Now, though we cleared it up until I think it was the early '70s, when we heard from one young person who'd been very small at that time that she was still suffering under what happened then, and we went through it all again. I can only tell you the brotherhood was mainly responsible and was deeply repentant and has remained deeply repentant. Where I hope you have heard from people where they felt they told you an apology, I hope you heard. But I can only tell you it's something that has been our concern right through these years to sift out where we clearly went off the rails. And at the '60s time, I mean I was out for a number of years, and Jeremy said, but the question then became not just the Bruderhof.
My call was to follow Jesus, that was the calling that brought me to the Bruderhof in the first place. And what I found I had to do was to really seek again: what was my relationship to God? Where? How was it possible, how had I personally, who had come through, as you say, one of those who are not so guilty because we were also out and so on, and to really face up to especially my guilt in various times was not speaking up? And it's gone through and through our communities. We face up to where we've gone wrong... We are not experiencing repression from our leaders. We feel in the order of the whole life that I mean under God, we have to have a leader, and I respected Balz very much when he was in this capacity. We have to keep a hairline as to where it may be going off, and at the same time have a love and respect for those we have elected. And I'm very glad for the word of an older man, I forget his name, a member of the Elizabethtown conference, who spoke from the anguish of those who remained in the community when others had left, and how they had come through to compassion. And he said a word to all our young people" "We can't say that we won't fail again. We can't say we won't fail again. We'll try and we know we're under God. And I think the whole thing is that we know we're under God. We'll be judged where we haven't. It's quite clear that very hard things have happened and we'll be judged... I think that's all I can say at the moment. I just have a great longing that we'll search for that way together.
Amy Hindley: I feel that somehow instead of seeing that we won't, you don't see what the enemy actually is, I feel. It's not the Bruderhof, and we're having to fight in the Bruderhof every single day that that enemy doesn't come on the B'hof either. It's the same. We all have a common enemy. And I think the only difference between us and you is that we have chosen to do it in the B'hof and you are choosing to do it somewhere else, the fighting. And I feel that you can spend your whole life charging the Bruderhof with what's gone wrong and I don't know if it's going to get you anywhere... The B'hof is just not one mass. There's children who've grown up in the B'hof who just, they don't know you. They won't know you. I know most people here by either having heard of you or met you somewhere along the way. And you can't blame the children that are now growing up for something that happened 30 years ago, or 20 years ago, even 10 years ago. We're trying to fight now in the Bruderhof for what is there, which is an evil spirit which can come to us because we are human beings. We want to fight that, and we long that those of you who feel there is something evil or has been something evil in your lives that we need to straighten out, we also want to straighten it out. And that's where anybody who feels that, instead of holding the Bruderhof, "Here, this is your enemy," to come and see the people and talk with them.
Judy Levy-Sender: Can I say something? I was never a member of the Bruderhof, and I just want to say something, please. What I want to say is that I am not a Christian. I listen very patiently. I hear you say the word 'enemy.' I have been listening to this. I don't always agree with everything people are saying. The commonality that I find here is I don't hear people saying that the Bruderhof is the enemy. I hear people saying that they have a great deal of concern and love for the people in the Bruderhof. When you start talking about evil, I'm not really quite sure what you mean, because I don't feel that in the people here, any more than you do. I think we have something in common. I think we all want want to have some kind of reconciliation, whether it's from the inside or without.
But I really feel that when you start saying that people here are saying things about the Bruderhof, I don't think you need to feel that way. I think that people here have a great caring for the people of the B'hof.
Amy Hindley: I'm going by what has been said here.
Ruth Baer Lambach: I think we need to stick with the guidelines that we set at the beginning. Ok. I mean go ahead, but I mean we didn't respond to each other and they didn't respond to us, so we should not respond to them.
Amy Hindley: But that's my longing, that we find where we can work together and not where we can split apart.
Annie Maendel Hindley: I know very many here, or did know as a child when I was not really a part of the Bruderhof. I just want to say that there is a real openness at the Bruderhof now for reconciliation for anyone who's hurt. My heart responded to Johanna because I and Grandma and Jeremy went to visit her mother and we actually asked, "What can we do for you?" And she asked if someone could come and clean her house. We spent a wonderful day with her, and I keep that precious because I experienced her as a sister. We begged if we could take her home with us, and we also have to leave things in God's hands, so we had to leave it in God's hands. That she did not come with us, but we wanted to very much. I didn't know her before, but I actually wanted to speak to Johanna herself because my heart responded to her.
Timothy Johnson: There was a suggestion made earlier that one of the themes has been the variety here of views and ways of viewing things and so forth. And the theme song has been Die Gedanken Sind Frei, and maybe there'll be a song.
All SING: Die Gedanken Sind Frei "My Thoughts Are Free."
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