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FAQ

Why it is called the Moravian Church when it was started in Bohemia and resurrected in Germany?

What is the God's Acre?

What is the Brotherly Agreement?

Why do Moravians call Christ the Chief Elder?

What was the "Choir System"?

What was the Lot and is it still a Moravian practice?

What is Lovefeast?

What is Unitas Fratrum?

What was the origin of the Christmas Eve Candle Service?

What is the Moravian Cup of Covenant?

What are the Daily Texts (Losungen)?

What is the meaning of the Moravian Star?

Does the Moravian Church have a Book of Order?

How do Moravians view baptism?

What are the orders of ministry in the Moravian Church?

What is the office of bishop in the Moravian Church?

What is a Diener?

What is the Easter Sunrise Service?

Do the Moravians have a doctrinal statement?

How do Moravians observe Holy Communion?

What is a Liturgy in the Moravian Church?

What is the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living?

What is the meaning of the Moravian Seal?

What is the Provincial Elders Conference (PEC)?

Are the Moravians Pietists?

What is a Moravian Province?

What is a Singstunde?

What is the white robe Moravian ministers wear for communion?

What is a Synod in the Moravian Church?




Why it is called the Moravian Church when it was started in Bohemia and resurrected in Germany?

The original name for the Moravian Church was Jednota Bratrsky in Czech or Unitas Fratrum in Latin. This simply means Unity of the Brothers. After the original Unitas Fratrum was destroyed during the Counter Reformation in Central Europe, a group of refugees from Moravia found protection on the estate of Count Zinzendorf. Since they were from Moravia (in the modern Czech Republic) they were simply called the Moravians. When the Unitas Fratrum was resurrected after the August 13, 1727 experience, it was called the Brüdergemeine in German, and it included people from many lands. But the Moravian refuges played such an important role in missions that gradually the whole community became known as the Moravians.

What is the God’s Acre?

Moravians call their cemeteries “God’s Acres” because it is the field where the bodies (or ashes) of believers are “planted” in anticipation of the resurrection. God’s Acres typically have uniformly sized flat headstones to emphasize the Moravian value of equality before God. God’s Acre is sacred ground and those buried are seen as members of the greater congregation.

What is the Brotherly Agreement?

The renewed Moravian Church began with the signing of an agreement to live according to the simple teachings of Jesus and to be at peace with all people. Now the agreement is called the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living, and it includes instructions on how Moravians should conduct their lives in the church, in the home, in the workplace, and in the world.

Why do Moravians call Christ the Chief Elder?

On September 16, 1741 the church’s officials attempted to elect a chief elder to replace Leonard Dober, the first Moravian missionary. When the lot failed to approve a human candidate, the men and women assembled asked whether Christ himself would take on that office. The lot agreed, and so on November 13 it was announced to congregations that Christ had been elected Chief Elder. Originally this was closely connected to the Moravian practice of deciding critical church issues through the drawing of lots, but through the years it has been primarily a way of reminding all Moravians that the church exists to serve Christ, not its own ends.

What was the "Choir System"

"Choir" simply means group, not necessarily a singing group. The “choir system” was developed in the early days of Herrnhut when the unmarried men and later the unmarried women set up communal housekeeping. Eventually the whole community was divided according to gender, age, and marital status. Every Moravian community had large choir houses for the Single Brothers and Single Sisters. Often there was a house for the Widows as well. Frequently children were educated in choir houses that functioned as boarding schools. Each choir was largely self-governing, but the choir leaders were chosen by the church’s elders. Devotions and instructions for living were established for each choir so that every person could grow into the likeness of his or his Savior. In the 18th century women wore colored ribbons to indicate their choir. This is no longer used in the Moravian Church in America, except in some congregation’s “God’s Acre,” where men and women are buried in separate sections.

What was the Lot and is it still a Moravian practice?

The lot is no longer a practice of the Moravian Church, but was used in the 18th and 19th centuries to help make decisions when no clear course of action presented itself. The church at that time believed that the choosing of a lot (a slip of paper indicating yes, no, or wait) after prayer indicated the will of Christ. The lot was used to help arrange marriages for decades, but that practice was abolished for the most part in 1818.

What is a Lovefeast?

One of the distinctive practices of theMoravian Church is the lovefeast. Like some other Pietist churches (most notably the Church of the Brethren), the Moravians imitated the early Christian practice of sharing meals in common as a visible expression of devotion to Christ who ate with tax collectors and sinners. This is a liturgical, but not sacramental, meal shared on special occasions in the church year. There is no set form for the lovefeast, but it usually involves much congregational singing, special choral or instrumental music, and a simple meal consisting of a sweet bun and a beverage. Contrary to popular belief, coffee is not the normal beverage for lovefeast around the world. Churches use tea, lemonade, cocoa, or any beverage that has a festive character.

What is the Unitas Fratrum?

The official name of the Moravian Church since its founding in the 1450s is Unitas Fratrum, which means Unity of the Brothers. In English-speaking lands the church is generally called the Moravian Church. Since 1957 the Unitas Fratrum worldwide is often called the Unity. Unity Synod meets every seven years and decides doctrinal and administrative matters that affect the entire church.

What was the origin of the Christmas Eve Candle Service?

One of the most notable Moravian observances is the Christmas Eve service. In addition to the lovefeast, candles are distributed to the worshipers. This began in 1747 in Marienborn, Germany, when Bishop Johannes von Watteville gave the children lighted candles to remind them of the flame of love that Christ lights in every believer’s heart. In England, the candles are placed in a candy-studded orange known as a Christingle. In America, beeswax candles with red paper trim are the norm, but there are variations. Since the early 20th century adults have been allowed to share in this experience.

What is the Moravian Cup of Covenant?

This is a non-sacramental service in which participants share a glass of wine (or grape juice in individual cups) as a solemn pledge to support one another in a covenant. On September 16 all of the ordained Moravian ministers around the world participate in cup of covenant services to reaffirm their ordination vows and sense of camaraderie.

What are the Daily Texts (Losungen)?

The Daily Texts is one of the world’s oldest continuously published devotional guide for lay persons. On May 3, 1728 Zinzendorf first gave the congregation of Herrnhut a watchword from the Bible to guide their devotions the following day. There are two Scripture verses (the Watchword from the Old Testament and a Doctrinal Text from the New Testament) chosen for each day. The Watchwords are chosen by lot from a collection of 2,000 verses and then the New Testament text is matched to it. This is done annually in Herrnhut, and the texts are then given to provinces so appropriate hymns and prayers may be added. Over 1.5 million copies of the Daily Text are published in over fifty languages each year.

What is the meaning of the Moravian Star?

One of the most popular symbols of the Moravian Church started as a geometry project for school boys in Niesky, Germany in the 1850s. There is now a factory in Herrnhut that manufactures the stars in paper and plastic. These the multi-point stars are used from Advent season to Epiphany to decorate sanctuaries, homes, and doorways. The typical star has 26 points, but some have as many as 144 points. The star is usually illuminated from within and is intended to remind viewers of Christ as the Morning Star and light of the world. It also calls to mind the star that guided the Magi in their search for the Christ.

Does the Moravian Church have a Book of Order?

Each province has a Book of Order, which sets forth the rules that all pastors and congregations live under. Only Provincial Synod has the authority to change the Book of Order. There is also a Church Order for the Unity to govern the worldwide church.

How do Moravians view baptism?

Baptism is the rite of entry into the Christian Church in most churches. Moravians do not rebaptize those who were baptized in other churches. The precise form of baptism is not prescribed, but most pastors baptize by placing water on the forehead. Infant baptism is the norm in the Moravian Church but it is not required.

What are the orders of ministry in the Moravian Church?

Deacon, Presbyter, Bishop. Deacons may be pastors of congregations and can serve Communion, baptize, and perform weddings.? Presbyters are the second order of ministry. Deacons are consecrated presbyters as an affirmation of their ministry. In the Ancient Unity presbyters were called priests. Bishops are responsible for ordaining pastors.

What is the office of bishop in the Moravian Church?

The first bishop in the Moravian Church was chosen by lot and consecrated in 1467. The primary function of bishops is to ordain ministers and advise the church on theological matters. Bishops are not necessarily administrators in the Moravian Church, but are considered be guides and counselors (pastors to the pastors). The succession of Moravian bishops was broken once in 1553 when Bishop Jan Augusta spent 16 years in prison because of his faith. One of the last bishops of the old Unity of the Brethren, Daniel Ernst Jablonski, consecrated the first bishop the Renewed Moravian Church in 1735.

What is a Diener?

This is from the German word for server, and in the Moravian Church it is used to refer to those who serve lovefeast. It is not unusual to see pastors or even bishops serving as dieners. The term is not used in all provinces.

What is the Easter Sunrise Service?

One of the most popular Moravian services is the sunrise service on Easter morning. The first sunrise service was held in Herrnhut in 1728. In the 20th century many other denominations have adopted this practice. The service recalls the experience of the women who went to Christ’s tomb, expecting to anoint the corpse of their beloved teacher, and instead learned that the “The Lord is Risen!” Much of the service is held on God’s Acre in the presence of the saints who have gone before. The liturgy is primarily a confession of faith. One of the largest Easter Sunrise services in held in the God’s Acre in Salem, NC.

Do the Moravians have a doctrinal statement?

The Ground of the Unity is the primary Moravian doctrinal statement. It was written in 1957 when the Unitas Fratrum was reorganized into several related but autonomous provinces. The Ground of the Unity stresses key Moravian values, such as living in peace, as well as the church’s ecumenical stance.

How do Moravians observe Holy Communion?

Eucharist is observed 7-12 times a year in most congregations. Typically, the celebrant comes out into the congregation bringing the bread and wine (or grape juice) to the people, just as Christ brings his grace into the world. The congregation sings hymns appropriate to the occasion and then partakes of the bread and then the wine together to emphasize unity in Christ. Moravians emphasize the aspect of Communion, both with God and with all God’s people past and present.

What is a Liturgy in the Moravian Church?

Moravians use the word “liturgy” to refer to the formal responsive prayers used at the beginning of the Sunday worship service. These prayers follow the liturgical calendar, but some liturgies speak to particular themes, such as education. Liturgies include hymn verses, scriptural quotations (or paraphrases), and prayers. The word “litany” normally refers only to the Church Litany, which is similar in form and content to the litanies of other Western churches.

What is the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living?

This document is a revision of the original Brotherly Agreement, which helped structure life in the Moravian community of Herrnhut in the 1700s. The Covenant is not binding to Moravians, but it does present the Moravian ideal for practical Christian living in the United States and Canada. Different provinces have their own covenants.

What is the meaning of the Moravian Seal?

The Moravian seal uses the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei), an ancient Christian symbol used by many churches, with the words Vicit Agnus Noster, Eum Sequamur (Our Lamb Has Conquered, Let Us Follow) on the outer circle. The seal focuses on the triumph of Christ over death, sin, and the power of evil through his sacrificial death. It combines faith in Christ with active discipleship in following his path of love and service.

What is the Provincial Elders Conference (PEC)?

This is the executive council of a Province. In many ways, PEC, led by a president, functions like a bishop in other churches.

Are the Moravians Pietists?

The modern Moravian Church is a product of the German Pietist movement, which was a lay-centered renewal movement in the 18th century that de-emphasized doctrinal controversy and sectarian division. Instead, the Pietists stressed spiritual experience and practical Christian living. The Methodist Church in England was strongly influenced by Pietism.

What is a Moravian Province?

Provinces are the primary administrative unit of the worldwide Moravian Church. Provinces are responsible for selection, education, and supervision of clergy; supervision of congregations; management of finances; and providing hymnals and other necessary items for worship. Since 1957 the Moravian Unity has consisted of over a dozen autonomous provinces.

What is a Singstunde?

Singstunde is German for a service that is entirely sung. The hymn texts for a Singstunde are carefully chosen to build on a particular theme. Traditionally Singstunden were held on Saturday evening, but the practice has largely died out in the United States.

What is the white robe Moravian ministers wear for communion?

Moravians call this long white robe a surplice, but is most similar to what other churches call an alb. The Moravian surplice is a development of the outermost robe worn by German Lutheran ministers in the 18th century. Its flowing white design with wide sleeves calls to mind the white robes in the book of Revelation. Its purpose to remind worshipers of heaven and to show that the pastor is representing Christ when administering the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion. Some ministers also wear the surplice for weddings and confirmations. Bishops wear the surplice for ordinations and consecrations.

What is a Synod in the Moravian Church?

Synod is made up of representatives from congregations and all active clergy which meets regularly to elect provincial officers and set policy for the entire province. Synod approves changes to the Book of Order and holds provincial officers and other congregations accountable to the Book of Order.