The Schwarze Years

Through the First World War

Edmund P. Schwarze came to Calvary in 1916, and when he retired in 1950 had at that time the longest service to one congregation of any Moravian pastor. By sheer length of service as well as force of his personality, he set a standard which has haunted every pastor since. He would be first to regret this, but it is a fact of our congregational history which cannot be denied. As we shall see, he was a thorough-going Moravian—son of a Moravian pastor and brother to three others—loved our denomination’s heritage and saw to it that Calvary was not a hybrid, fringe “Moravian” church, but rather a congregation as rooted in our traditions as others many times its age.He had taken a short vacation after leaving Fries Memorial (then on East Fourth Street) and returned to Winston-Salem from Bethlehem by train on July 21, 1916 accompanied by his wife (née Martha Bishop) and daughter Margaret. In the interim between Dr. Crosland’s departure and Reverend Schwarze’s arrival, the young congregation had completely erased its deficit.As he records in the Church diary, which he kept faithfully, recording his daily activities in the pastorate until his retirement in 1950, they were met at the station by the Board of Elders and driven to the parsonage on Holly Avenue which the ladies of the Church had “completely arranged with our furniture and looked very homelike indeed.” The Elders and their wives served supper and the Trustees and their wives arrived later to welcome the new pastor. Four days later the Ladies Aid Society held a reception for the Schwarzes. Four hundred persons went through the receiving line.

The schedule at Calvary was demanding: Sunday morning and evening services, Wednesday prayer meetings, visiting a congregation that then numbered around 600. In the summer the Sunday night tradition started by Dr. Crosland of services on the cooler lawn was continued, with the addition of music by “Crouse’s Band” (at a cost of $10.00 each evening). Reverend Schwarze was determined that Calvary would not have to hire music but would have a Moravian band, and began collecting instruments and potential recruits. Within 9 days of his arrival at Calvary an impromptu band was lashed together. It must not have been all that bad: Four hundred to five hundred from the community would often come to the Sunday evening services.

Meanwhile Sunday School enrollment was 298. The Baraca class was so large that its sliding doors would be opened and its overflow occupy part of the sanctuary.

By November 26, 1916 the Church diary notes that “we used the Moravian hymns tonight, with good success”, an indication that then, as now, there had been a reluctance in some of the early congregation to adopt the sturdy, classical Moravian chorales instead of the gospel songs those new Moravians had been accustomed to in their former denominations.

1916 saw two Christmas Eve Lovefeasts, one at 3:00 and one at 7:30 p.m. The little church was decorated with garlands everywhere and the pulpit platform displayed a complete stable built of birch logs. 1

Four days later, the young pastor called together a committee to investigate the potential need for a new church building. (Reverend Schwarze was certainly no stranger to expansion: In his earlier pastorate in North Dakota he had organized the Alice congregation, and seen their church built, the Newfoundland, Pennsylvania congregation built their church during his pastorate, and then Fries Memorial was built on East Fourth Street during his pastorate.)

On January 6, 1917, the end of Christmas in the canonical year, the decorations were taken down.

Five days later on January 11 the Central Board of Trustees of Salem Congregation endorsed Calvary’s plans for a new building, agreeing that the old sanctuary had been outgrown. While these rather momentous decisions were making their way through the Boards, with conferences with architects, contractors and such, the day to day life of the congregation continued.

One high point of 1917 was a sacred Easter concert held at 8:00 p.m. on April 15 under the direction of J.L. Kapp, Calvary’s Music Director. The program was composed of classical Easter anthems and the Memorabilia of 1917 notes it was the “musical event of the year.” A collection was taken, proceeds to go to an organ fund for the new church.

Nothing was more characteristic of Pastor Schwarze, nor the Moravian tradition, than an emphasis on our incredibly rich history of splendid church music. Having pulled together a reasonably hopeful band, Professor W.F. Crouse held the first practice the evening of April 30. Schwarze records the cacophony was “terrible.” But the band continued to practice and was soon able to announce deaths from the church steeple, a custom which Brother Schwarze was hopeful of engrafting from the Salem Church to Calvary, now recognized as the Downtown Church of Moravians in Winston.

But while the congregation girded for the immensely expensive effort of a new church, the Women’s Missionary Society unanimously voted on June 24th to support a native worker, one “Allen” in the mission field of Nicaragua. One hundred dollars, a substantial sum in those days, was pledged in a spirit remarkably similar to that of Herrnhut in the early 1700s. 2

The diary notes that on July 12 the Pastor was out trying to get a bargain on an automobile since the congregation had become so large and scattered that “a machine has become necessary.” Five days later the men of the church learning of their Pastor’s concern, offered him a new Dodge “machine” with the Pastor paying the first $600.00 and these men the balance.

By Christmas Eve 1917 the band was able to play the sturdy Moravian chorales “very acceptably” before each service. Brother Crouse’s efforts had been rewarded!

The first notice of the band playing in God’s Acre was in January 1918. The diary records that Sister C.E. Johnson died on January 4th, the band announced her homegoing from the steeple at noon, and that evening practiced for her graveyard service.

Brother Schwarze was a thoroughgoing prohibitionist, as were many of our congregation. On January 13, 1918 the Sunday evening service was sponsored by the Anti-Saloon League, rallying help in ratifying the prohibition amendment to the United States Constitution.

Throughout this year, the Church band announced congregational deaths from the church steeple and 1918 was also the first year the Calvary band made its “rounds” in Winston to awaken the community before the ancient Easter morning service on God’s Acre. During the Lenten season before Easter, Pastor Schwarze had preached at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, once on February 28th and again on March 6th. The connection between the Anglican and Moravian churches has been historically close: Back in 1749 the British Parliament had recognized the Moravian Church as “an ancient Protestant and Episcopal Church” and our strong liturgical and musical tradition make us bed fellows. In early Wachovia, the Moravian Church ministered to the Anglicans in our area and largely presided over “Dobbs Parish” under the established Anglican Church before the Revolution.

The United States had entered the first World War on April 6, 1917. There is no mention of this in Brother Schwarze’s daily diaries, and no mention of the war itself until May 25, 1918 when he notes that Brother H.C. Conrad, Arthur Fishel, Clarence Wood, O.M. Wilson and Douglas Peterson had left for training camp and that this meant Calvary had 29 sons in the service. His failure to concern himself in the Church diary was no indication of a lack of concern over the War itself, but rather because the Christian Church stands above and beyond contemporary governments and wars, concerned only with the state of the eternal soul of individual creatures, before which all else pales.

Calvary was a center of Winston life during this period. On “Bastille Day” July 14, our site was selected for an outdoor “French Independence Day” celebration. A member of the French High Commission to the United States, Lieutenant De Wierzbriki made the address.

Pastor Schwarze took his first vacation since coming to Calvary from August 13th through September 15th, but reports that before leaving he made a “complete visiting round” of the whole congregation.

A worldwide Spanish Flu epidemic struck Winston that Fall, and had become so intense that on October 5th the local Health Department ordered all churches closed. Hence there were no services between October 7th and October 31st. Brother Schwarze visited the bedsides of the sick, noting there was “much sickness in our City and Congregation.” Oscar Hege, Sr. and Ernest Hege, among others, were victims of the epidemic. Services were resumed on November 3rd.

During this entire period the Church bell was rung at 7:00 p.m. each evening at the Governor’s request to call the community to a “minute of prayer in these War times.”

World War 1 ended with the Armistice of November 11th, 1918, and Calvary celebrated on November 13th with a service of Thanksgiving, the sanctuary being decorated with the flags of all our allies. An appropriate booklet was printed and distributed.

Only four days later, on Anniversary Sunday of the congregation, plans for a new building were laid before the congregation at the Anniversary Lovefeast. But the joy of the week was cut short that night during communion service, when a riot broke out downtown due to an attempt of certain citizens to lynch a negro who had assaulted a woman the previous night. The homeguard, commanded by a Calvary member, stopped the attempted lynching, but the diary records there was “promiscuous shooting in the city and a generally anxious time until morning when several divisions of soldiers arrived and order was restored.”

Hard an the heels of the riots, the Spanish Flu reappeared. Again church services were limited, but this time, not entirely: One service per week was permitted. This time the flu struck our congregation even harder than before: The Pastor to his immense concern simply couldn’t visit all the sick. Mrs. J.A. Smith, Mrs. J.C. Davis, Mrs. Byron B. Miller and Mrs. Holt Page, among others, were called home.

The 1918 Christmas Eve Service was postponed until January 1, 1919 due to the Flu epidemic and combined with a memorabilia prepared and read by the pastor.

The war over, the congregation turned its attention to growth in two directions: First was the construction of a new sanctuary, since by 1919, with a membership of 650, and 500 enrolled in the Sunday School, Calvary was bursting at the seams. A new church building, it will be recalled, had been approved by the Central Board in early 1917, but construction delayed due to the war.

The other direction for growth was in foreign missions. Brother Kenneth Hamilton had completed his duties as a YMCA secretary working with German prisoners of war and had offered himself as a missionary to Nicaragua. 3

Once the news was out that Brother Hamilton was available to go to Nicaragua, Brother Schwarze “took an option” on him in effect, asking the Mission Board to give Calvary first crack at sponsoring him. By January 26—three days after Schwarze “took the option”—we had raised the $900.00 necessary for Hamilton’s annual support in Nicaragua and shortly, after other pledges came in, his support was oversubscribed. On May 22 Kenneth Hamilton, our first ordained foreign missionary, left for Nicaragua. As we have seen, Calvary’s most progressive years in our own internal congregational expansion have always seemed to coincide with times when the congregation has been most sacrificially active in supporting foreign missions. So it was to be when, in a leap of faith, we undertook the sole support of Brother Hamilton at the same time as we were embarking on our most ambitious building expansion.


  1. Schwarzes’ diary notes the candles were trimmed in red and white!
  2. As we have noted, our denomination worldwide has never been more rich materially and spiritually then when we have fostered efforts to bring Christ to foreign lands. This is our historical calling, it is what we do best, and its very unselfishness quite naturally draws Christians to us from those denominations who have become obsessed with internal obligations.
  3. Hamilton had been especially qualified for the YMCA position: The son of a Bishop of the Unity, he had been educated in Moravian schools in Germany, spoke fluent German, and had many contacts and friends among our former foes.

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