“I realised the brotherhood and support that were often confessed were very conditional”

My experience begins around the time of the purchase of Bugbrooke hall; there was a sense of liberty and no barriers between status age or sex. People would just arrive at the chapel from all over the county at the weekend and queue for ministry after the meetings.I was invited to be involved in the formation of a church natural food business and was given freedom and finances to start it. For me it was a chance to create a workplace where everyone would be supported and encouraged. I was a bit scared to be trusted with investing in all the equipment without any experience and at a young age. I had no interest in living in community but the wages from a start up company gave me no option but to live at the Hall.I married a colleague in 1978 and we went to live in a different community house and to start a new family. At that time the church decided to branch out into Warwickshire. I noticed something changed. We were now travelling to meetings at Rugby and Birmingham and the precious little time we had to form a family unit was being eroded. There were new compulsory evening activities, and with increasing work pressure I would become resentful if the Sunday morning meetings were prolonged and felt my family time was being stolen. The business was expanding to create employment for the members and we moved to a different house to find more space and avoid internal conflicts that had arisen.After a period it was suggested that we moved to a family house on an estate in Bugbrooke to try and be a family, but remaining common purse community members. I had decided not to join in brotherhood meetings or father’s discipleship groups. This brought conflicts, but my business position formed a protection. My credibility in the church diminished and we were viewed as having backslidden, we had now reached a point of our position being untenable and therefore decided to leave.I agreed to stay on at work until my replacement was found and during that time was treated with courtesy and respect. The capital I put in was returned with inflation without question, but no relief of need payments and we left with three children and a ten day old baby and without employment or income.We were unable to claim state benefits because of having above the savings threshold and to employers outside of community my experience and previous salary were unreconcilable. I took on a sales agency with a former contact and was paid commission only, but found a support and encouragement on the outside that was previously lacking. I realised the brotherhood and support that were often confessed were very conditional.We moved abroad in 1999 and my wife retired in 2009 but found she had a reduced state pension due to the fact the community had failed to pay what had been talked about, their obligation to pay domestic workers National Insurance contributions. Although the psychological effect of community has stayed with me, I recently found release and freedom on learning that the community business that we were so much involved with was sold.

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