26 January 2012

Moravian Church

Yesterday, I wrote about a trip to Alberta, Canada, where I first learned of the Moravian Church, and my ancestors involvement in it. These are topics I haven't thought about for some time, being fairly driven to face other challenges, answer other questions and reach other goals.

So, where is the Moravian Church now?  It's not a commonly referred to religion, so I thought I would take a look at the current status.

"In essentials, unity; 
In nonessential's, liberty;
In all things, love."
~ Moravian Church of North America
www.moravian.org

According to the website, the Church has been organized for over 500 years, officially organizing in 1457. It's birth was in present day Czech Republic. By 1620, the religion was found in three major geographical areas: Moravia, Bohemia and Poland. Through a long and tumultuous history, including one failed attempt in Georgia, they finally settled in America in the State of Pennsylvania, consuming 500 acres (1735-1740). They currently have congregations in sixteen states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian Provinces. 

To keep this simple, their doctrine is Christian based, and believe that they are given the responsibility to take care of all God offers them in life: "our time, our talents and our financial resources. We view all of life as a sacred trust to be used wisely."  

In the diaries of Rev. Clement Hoyler (see blog entry from 25 Jan 2012), he references the "Lovefeast." I was curious about this particular event, and found more information on the website (above).  Revitalized within the Moravian Church in 1727, it is used to celebrate church anniversaries, festivals of the church year, congregation celebrations, etc. 

"The lovefeast is primarily a song service, opened with prayer. Often there is no address; the hymns in the ode, or order of service, furnish the subject matter for devotional thoughts. If many visitors are present, the presiding minister often says a few words, explaining the purpose of the service, just before the congregation partakes of the bun and coffee, or whatever is served. On special occasions an address may be added, giving opportunity to remind the congregation of the history of the anniversary or the deeper import of the day."

There are currently eight congregations in Alberta: Bruderheim, Calgary Christ, Calgary Good Shepherd Community, Edmonton, Millwoods, Rio Terrace, Heimtal, and Good News in Sherwood Park.  Although I searched the North American website fairly carefully, I was unable to find a current number of members. According to Wikipedia, the worldwide count currently is around 850,000, with the largest concentration being in Tanzania. They are active in education and missionary work throughout the organization. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moravian_Church