CANON TOM KENNAR: People live so differently to our highly fractured society

St Faith's Church, Havant on his sabbatical Down Under.

Thursday, 21st June 2018, 11:50 am
Updated Thursday, 21st June 2018, 12:53 pm
Tom Kennar took this picture of a koala while in Australia

I’ve just returned from a three-month sabbatical, or as we now call it, ‘extended ministerial developmental leave’. It’s good to be home again!

Part of my time away was spent in Australia, where I was fortunate enough to meet the sleepy little koala in the photo. Cute, isn’t he?

While Down Under, I also spent significant time with the Bruderhof community. They are a Christian community of families who choose to live together, on shared land.

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No-one owns anything by right; only what the community provides for their needs. There was much about them that I found attractive.

It was especially noticeable how connected the whole community were to one another.

By working, eating and worshipping together, they form deep bonds and mutually supportive relationships across the generations.

Most meals are eaten in a large dining hall, which also functions as a space for worship during bad weather.

Children and young people grow up surrounded by positive role models. Modern technology is available, for education purposes – but it is not allowed to intrude into daily life.

At the other end of the age-spectrum, the elderly are cared for within the community, until their final days – spreading the burden of their care across the community, and dispensing with the need for care homes and the like.

I was especially struck by a tradition of the community in which they gather outside a dying person’s window, to sing songs and lovingly support them on their way.

I found myself noticing how different such a way of living is from our highly fractured society.

For the most part, we tend to lead separated lives – perhaps mainly focusing on just a few of our closest family and friends.

Our individual commitments and personal choices sometimes take precedence over our commitment to each other and the wider community. I wonder what our local community would look like if we really started to live, work, play and share together?

More information about the Bruderhof (who have a community in England too) can be found at

St Faith’s Church is in West Street, Havant

Go to for more information.