By Annabeth Tucker
Students come from different backgrounds. Now part of the school’s already diverse culture are four students from the Bruderhof community—Seth Zimmerman, Doreen Arnold, Laura Maendel, and Timothy Keiderling
The Bruderhof is a worldwide communal movement of people coming together to live out Jesus’ command “to love God and neighbor.” Founded in 1920 in Germany, there are now Bruderhof communities in the United Kingdom, Paraguay, Australia, and the United States.
Although these students came to Goshen College from the same Bruderhof community, Woodcrest, located in New York State, they have had a variety of experiences. Doreen Arnold spent a year in Germany, then went to community college, then transferred to Goshen. Laura Maendel, after graduating from public high school in 2011, went to live in a community in England with her grandparents for two years. Seth Zimmerman lived at Bruderhof outposts in a variety of settings including New York City, India, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Lastly, Timothy Keiderling came right out of a Bruderhof high school to Goshen College.
For Maendel, an interdisciplinary major with a possible minor in art, the transition to college has been good. Like so many other young people, Maendel is still finding her way in a lot of things. “I’m also a struggling young person… I’m just like everybody else.” The one thing she does have though is her faith in Christ to help her through. “I can’t live a day without prayer, without my relationship with Jesus.”
When asked about the differences between Goshen and her life in the Bruderhof community, Maendel stated that she doesn’t like to focus on the differences. “I try to look at the positive things,” she said. “I really like Goshen and I’m glad I came here.”
Zimmerman’s transition to college has also been smooth. “I have had little trouble adjusting to the place; it already feels like home,” he said.
Like many students going from high school to college, Keiderling said that “ it’s different being here [at Goshen] because I have to make more choices about how to use my time.” One of Keiderling’s favorite parts of living at Woodcrest was growing up in an environment where he was nurtured overall as a person and also in his faith.
Arnold said faith has also had a key role in her life at the Bruderhof and now at Goshen: “One of the commandments of Jesus particularly important to me is ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ I hope my life can be used in service to other people.” She is flourishing here at the college. “I am loving Goshen and all it has to offer!” Arnold said.
Each Bruderhof student expressed an invitation and desire to connect. They welcome questions and conversation. “People should feel free to come and talk to us; we’re not scary,” Maendel said. “I love talking to people and I love learning from other people as well.”
If people are interested in knowing more about the Bruderhof communities, the best thing to do would be to go see one. There’s always an open door for people who are interested in finding out what it’s really like.
Arnold said it well: “We are not a closed community and welcome all people; you do not have to be a professed Christian or believer to come see. Anyone who is interested in the Bruderhof is very welcome to visit!” The four students are going to a Bruderhof community in Pennsylvania for fall break. “If anybody is serious or interested in a short visit, come. Anyone is welcome.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Bruderhof communities, talk with Zimmerman, Maendel, Keiderling or Arnold, and visit the Bruderhof website: http://www.bruderhof.com/en