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Plough announces event to honor influential Bruderhof elder

Johann Christoph Arnold: A Legacy of Reconciliation

New​ ​York​ ​City,​ ​NY​– August 18, 2017– Reverend John M. Perkins, minister and veteran civil rights activist, will join First Things editor R.R. Reno, Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University and the Witherspoon Institute, and others to honor the life and legacy of Johann Christoph Arnold (November 14, 1940 – April 15, 2017.) The event will be held on September 11 at the at the Union League Club in New York City.

Arnold, the Elder of the Bruderhof Communities between 1983 and 2001, was a pastor, author, and tireless worker for peace, reconciliation, and justice. His words and work have had a profound impact; he is respected by those across the political spectrum. That breadth of his influence is reflected in the speakers who will gather to discuss his legacy.

Galvanized by his faith and by the injustice that he witnessed during the early days of the civil rights movement, he spent his life working to apply Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount to current social and political issues, while also pastoring a growing movement of Christian communities in the Anabaptist tradition.

“Christoph served as a beloved pastor in our church community for forty-three years,” said Paul Winter, the elder of the Bruderhof, “including the eighteen years in which he led the Bruderhof as elder. Since then, he carried on his ministry with his wife Verena, guiding and encouraging many within our church and around the world. His words and example inspire a way of selfless service and dedication to Jesus.”

Author of twelve books with a circulation of over two million copies, Arnold’s message was shaped by encounters with great peacemakers such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, César Chavez, and John Paul II. Together with paralyzed police officer Steven McDonald, Arnold started the Breaking the Cycle program, working with students at hundreds of public high schools to promote reconciliation through forgiveness. This work also brought him to conflict zones from Northern Ireland to Rwanda to the Middle East. Closer to home, he served as chaplain for the local sheriff’s department.

“Pastor Arnold was especially courageous,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, “in his rock solid conviction that God’s Word as revealed in the Bible was true and reliable, and that the Word Incarnate, Jesus, was ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ He was eloquent in sensing God’s presence in adversity and setback…We labored shoulder-to-shoulder… Pastor Arnold exuded a warmth and wisdom, and inspired a trust.”

Pastor Rick Warren also spoke of Pastor Arnold’s impact: “Although I had loved reading many of his books, meeting Christoph made me love him even more. His quiet humility, his contagious smile and laugh, his deep love for both Jesus and people, and his passion for peacemaking evidenced the true Spirit of Christ…I thank God for the life of Christoph Arnold.”

“Christoph Arnold was the leader of a comparatively small Christian community, the Bruderhof,” says George, “yet by precept and example he was a teacher and role model for countless Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Evangelical Protestants, and others. He lived his life as a dedicated servant of God. And those of us who had the privilege of knowing him personally are in no doubt about the intimacy of his friendship with Jesus.”

In today’s politically and culturally polarized world, Arnold was a uniquely irenic figure. An advocate for peace and racial justice, he also embraced a pro-life message, opposing both abortion and the death penalty. The speakers will reflect on his legacy and discuss the impact of such a life committed to carrying out the work of the Kingdom of God. It will be, says Reno, “the perfect occasion to consider the pastoral wisdom and Christian leadership of Christoph Arnold.”

This event, which will run from 5:45 to 7:15, is co-hosted by Plough Quarterly, First Things, and The Witherspoon Institute. A reception will follow the talks. The Union League Club is located at 38 East 37th Street in midtown Manhattan. Admission to both events is free to ticket-holders. To learn more or to register, go to

Plough Quarterly is a magazine of stories, ideas, and culture to inspire faith and action. It is published by the Bruderhof, a Christian communal movement based on the teachings of the early Church. Press

Contact: Susannah Black 646-678-1955