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The Moravian Church

Origins

The Moravian Church is an early Protestant Church. In fact our church began one hundred years before the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther. Our history begins in the Province of Moravia in modern day Czechoslovakia in the early 14th Century. A Catholic priest named John Hus (Jan Hus) was advocating reform in the church, particularly his desire to see the people have the Bible translated into their own language. His views were deemed heretical by the Roman Church and in 1415 he was martyred for refusing to recant his beliefs.

Hus’s death led to an outbreak of war between the Roman Church and followers of Hus. Through the many years of war and conflict a small group of Hus’ followers formed the first official Protestant denomination in 1457 calling themselves the Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren) or Moravian Church.

Renewal

In 1722 a group of Moravians seeking refuge were invited to live on the estate of the German Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf in Saxony. On Zinzendorf’s estate the Church experienced a great spiritual renewal. From this spiritual awakening, a  new missionary movement emerged. From small beginnings, the Moravians were determined to share the Gospel of Christ with the world, going first to the West Indies in 1732.

As part of their zealous missionary effort the Moravians purchased land in Colonial America on which to build settlements from which they could support missionary efforts in the Americas, especially reaching out to Native Americans . One of the first settlements was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1741. Soon after a temporary settlement was established in Bethabara, North Carolina 1753. This settlement first established in the wilderness of North Carolina would be the  precursor of a more permanent settlement which was formed as Salem in 1766.

Modern Day

Those residing outside of Winston-Salem are often unfamiliar with the  Moravian Church.. This is due in part to our emphasis on missionary work. The early Moravians were not in the habit of establishing Christian Churches if one already existed in an area where they lived and served. As a result the Moravian Church in North America is smaller than areas such as Africa which is now the largest province of the Moravian Church in the world. The Moravian focus on mission work in other parts of the world has often resulted in larger groups of Moravians in other places around the world than in North America. However, the Moravian Church is also making strides toward  growth in both American provinces which now have congregations in 26 states. Calvary is part of the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America which is comprised of 59 congregations and fellowships.

Today, Moravians continue to share the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord, in various settings, holding as our motto:  In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, love.

 

More Information

A Short History of the Moravian Church