Living Simply | March 6, 2018


Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Fifty people from five states traveled to Camp Brethren Woods near Harrisonburg, Va., for Simplify: A Simple Living Weekend.Participants and leaders came from the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, Methodists, Old German Baptist Brethren, New Conference, and more. These simple living tips came from conference participants.

Simplicity of the heart

I spend time on building relationships, not acquiring things.

I am working at being grateful.

I am trying to exchange valuing busyness for compassion, which often means slowing down.

Simple technology

I downloaded an app that turns off the internet at 10 pm.

I realized that a certain game was making me agitated, so I deleted it.

I leave my phone downstairs at night.

On Sunday morning, I don’t use my phone until after church.

I light a candle when I grind my coffee on Sunday morning and don’t check e-mail.

I purposely don’t have a smart phone.

Household simplicity

We keep the thermostat at 65 in the winter. We wear sweaters.

We don’t use air conditioning.

I wash clothes on the gentle cycle rather than using a dry cleaner.

I hang laundry to dry.

We just have a small number of plates and glasses. Nobody needs more.

Simple shopping

I buy classic style clothes that don’t look dated quickly.

I shop at thrift stores.

When I buy things, especially shoes and clothing, I give away an equal number or more. “Be a conduit, not a hoarder.”

I take clothing to be recycled at H & M (clothing store).

I buy good quality purses that last rather than cheap ones that wear out quickly.

Simple eating

I eat less meat.

I don’t eat unseasonal fresh produce shipped from far away in the winter.

Our church started a community garden and shares produce with our neighbors.

I put insulating blankets over fall crops so they last into the winter.

Simple transportation

I try to make just one trip per week to town to run errands.

I arranged a ride [to the conference] rather than driving myself.

I learned how to “hypermile,” driving carefully to use less fuel.

Annual Conference statements related to Simple Living

“…it is new to most Brethren to discover ourselves as possessors of great wealth, consuming approximately eight times our share of the world’s food, energy and mineral resources.”

“…we are becoming increasingly sensitized to the fact of how much of our time and energy are expended in producing, consuming, and competing for possessions and prestige. There is little time for knowing ourselves, sharing in the lives of others, and standing in the presence of God.”

“…Our motivation for examining lifestyle is not primarily a concern for simplicity or economics, but for faithfulness. We believe that God through Jesus Christ speaks directly to the way we live. As participants in a kingdom which seeks the lost, redeems the outcasts, liberates the captives, and proclaims the redistribution of wealth and property in the jubilee year of the Lord, we cannot sit easily in the seats of wealth and power of an oppressive status quo (Lk. 4:16-20).”

From 1980 Annual Conference Statement on Christian Lifestyle

“Our love for God and neighbors is a treasure above all other wealth and possessions.”

“Devotion to God makes us aware that the earth and the fullness thereof belong to God. They are not ours to possess. Grateful thanksgiving to God abounds as we care for the earth and share its resources with those in need.”

“We will repent as thoroughly as Zacchaeus, who gave half his wealth to the poor and restored fourfold to those he had cheated. We will share as generously as Lydia and Barnabas. As Michael Frantz, colonial elder of the Conestoga congregation wrote, ‘As long as there is abundance and want, there is no pure genuine communion, for communion equalizes everything with the measure of love and the balance of love.’”

“We, the church, can stand for Jesus only when we stand apart from the values of the world.”

“The community of faith will discuss and discern specific ways to simplify, without resorting to one final description of simplicity to enforce.”

From the 1996 Annual Conference Statement on Simple Life