Moravian Church in North America

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Moravian Church in North America
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South: Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Update from Board of World Mission/Moravian Disaster Response: Hurricane/Earthquake Updates



Please share this information broadly and with individuals in congregations

The information below is an update on the current response of MDR as we monitor the beginning stages of recovery in Texas from Harvey, the anticipation of further damage from Hurricane Irma, and listen to the potential impact of Hurricanes Jose and Katia close behind.

Additionally, we are offering this intercession in time of crisis liturgy for use in worship and prayer groups.

For the most up-to-date information on MDR’s efforts with these hurricanes, please visit here.


MDR Teams Forming Now for Port Arthur, Texas

The BWM is now ready to start sending volunteers to assist with the rebuilding work following Hurricane Harvey. Our work will be in partnership with the Unity of the Brethren (UOB) Church in Port Arthur, Texas. The Good Shepherd Moravian Church (a UOB Congregation) sustained significant flooding damage, as did numerous members of the congregation. An MDR trailer of tools is on site, and ready for use by teams. 

At the moment, options for housing are limited due to flooding damage to homes and nearby hotels. The initial plan will have teams staying in RV trailers until the church can be fixed for use as possible team housing, or other arrangements can be made. 

Initial work will continue some tear down within flood damaged properties, followed by by re-framing or drywall work. The need for assistance is great to help individuals get back into their homes, or to help clean up homes where individuals have continued to live despite unsafe conditions. 

While further dates will be available moving forward, or formed teams can suggest dates for us to check availability, the BWM is hoping to have a four week “blitz” to move ahead on some of the damaged properties prior to the holiday season. 

The dates currently seeking team members are:

  • October 22-28
  • October 29-November 4
  • November 5-11
  • November 12-18

The dates above represent a Sunday to Saturday timeframe, with the hope being team members can arrive on Sunday evening, and plan to work Monday-Friday, with a departure after work on Friday or Saturday morning. 

Due to a shortage of housing arrangements teams are currently being limited to 6 members, and will be filled based on skills needed and a “first come, first to serve” basis. 

Participants will cover the cost of their own transportation to Port Arthur. Teams can drive to the site, or fly into Houston airport, but volunteers should be in contact before purchasing a ticket to ensure a ride from the airport is possible (about a 90 minute ride).

The BWM is working to offer some possible team subsidies to help cover some food costs and possibly a portion of travel. Funding has been sent ahead to begin purchase of supplies for teams, but any additional funds raised to assist with this effort is greatly appreciated. 

A skilled volunteer should be on site to help guide teams and get them started, but previous experience, or a willingness to learn and work a bit independently is preferred. 

Click “Volunteer Now”, or email to volunteer to join one of the weeks needing volunteers. 

September 27, 2017 Update

The BWM continues to receive generous donations to help us respond in light of the myriad of disasters in the last several weeks. Below is an update regarding the current status of our response.

Hurricane Harvey
The BWM has sent a Moravian Disaster Response trailer down to Port Arthur, Texas to assist with the relief efforts. The trailer was filled on Sunday the 24th, and early morning of the 25th with items donated by congregations in Southern Wisconsin. These items will help supplement the BWM tools already in the trailer, and be used in the reconstruction of a local church and in the homes of members who have experienced damage to (and in some cases total loss of) their homes.

The trailer left before dawn on Monday, September 25th, and has arrived safely at the Good Shepherd Moravian Church, a Unity of the Brethren Congregation with some Moravian roots. Many thanks to our three volunteers Phil, Aaron, and Jon (pictured L to R) who drove the trailer to Texas from Wisconsin, and helped provide some initial assessments on the church and homes to be addressed first. 

Two distributions of funds have been made to support this work from MDR funds. A plan is now in place to start sending teams down to Texas starting as soon as people are available. If you have not yet filled out the form at the link above (click on the “Volunteer Now” button) please fill it out to be put on our email list regarding team information.

Initially we will be sending teams no larger than 6 people due to current needs, and accommodations currently being a camp out in the church building. Hotels remained full of families who cannot yet return to their homes, limiting our options as we plan for additional accommodations. Each team will also need to have at least one skilled member to help direct the work of the team members. Please be in touch with any other questions.

Hurricane Irma and Maria

Currently the Moravian Church in Cuba is holding its first Synod as a Mission Province of the Worldwide Moravian Unity. BWM staff member Rt. Rev Sam Gray is attending the Synod, along with BWM board member Joe Jarvis and other representatives of BWM partner, the Armando Rusindo Mission Foundation. They are receiving updates from each region as to the specific needs resulting from and damage incurred by Hurricane Irma. Several initial reports have indicated various levels of impact across the island. Specifically, the farm project of the church in Camaguey was particularly hit, destroying the two buildings on site, and drowning some of the livestock.

Upon return the BWM will be receiving a report on this damage and planning a further response in Cuba. Please hold this church, its members, and its Synod in your prayers.

Sam shared this update on Wednesday, September 27th:

Sam is with the 68 voting delegates, 11 observers, 1 consultant and 5 other invited guests who have gathered in Havana for the Synod of the Cuban Moravian Mission Province. The 9 working committees are meeting this afternoon and will begin bringing reports and resolutions at the Plenary Session this evening. Tomorrow afternoon there will be elections for the Provincial Board (including a president to replace brother Armando Rusindo, who has served the church faithfully and effectively over the past years). Please keep all of these brothers and sisters in your prayers.

The BWM has made an initial allocation of MDR funds to the EWI Province, and remained in contact about the best plan for further steps. A MDR Staff member will be traveling to the EWI Province to view the damage and help plan for work teams as soon as it becomes possible to do so. Currently (as stated in the updated below) airports remained closed, and communication spotty. Many of the Virgin Islands still have a curfew in place (6pm to 9am on St. Thomas and 4pm to 12pm on St. Croix) giving only short periods of time for errands, clean-up etc.

Additionally, as power remains out in much of the area, many people are not able to use ATMs to access their funds. This is a problem as many stores are also currently only accepting cash.

Please do keep these areas in prayer as the relief efforts begin, but they will be slow. Pray for safe travels as airports re-open and families are reunited after members have been trapped away from their home, traveling when the storm hit with no airport open to get them back to their families.

We received the following update from Rev. Cortroy Jarvis, Chariman of the EWI Province, along with the letter below. Please read for a further update on the situation in the EWI being monitored by the BWM. If you wish to respond to the requests in the letter please be in touch with the BWM ( to discuss further.

Communication is still an issue in St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola and St. Croix. So many Islands have been devastated by these hurricanes that we are just seeking to do our best to assist in our Mission. We would appreciate more funds but we have not yet received estimates on each Sanctuary, manse and School building that has been damaged. Until then, we will wait.

Volunteer Teams would definitely be needed especially in St. John and St. Croix and to a lesser extent, St. Thomas.

The Airports in St. Croix, St. Thomas and Tortola have been closed indefinitely and so it is difficult to set dates to visit them at this time. As soon as the Airports are reopened, I will communicate to you regarding future visits.



September 22, 2017

The BWM continues to receive generous donations to help us respond in light of the myriad of disasters in the last several weeks. Below is an update regarding the current status of our response. 

Hurricane Harvey

The BWM has made an initial distribution of funds to the Unity of the Brethren as the rebuilding work begins in the greater Houston and Gulf Coast regions. On Monday, September 25th, several volunteers from the Western District in the Northern Province will be driving a Moravian Disaster Response (MDR) trailer to Texas to be on the ground for use by individuals there, and for forthcoming teams. The trailer is pre-loaded with tools and items helpful in construction, but in this case will also be carrying donations from Southern WI congregations who have been collecting necessary construction materials which can be utilized or distributed on site. The BWM is very thankful for those who have gone out of their way to help add further supplies to this trailer.

In the next two weeks the BWM will begin communicating further information about the opportunity for teams to travel to Texas. Please CLICK HERE to enter your information for volunteering availability. NOTE: Even if you have sent in your information before to indicate your interest in volunteering, we are asking you to fill out this quick form specifically geared for our current Hurricane Relief efforts.


The BWM was able to get an update directly from congregations in Florida as a part of their recent district meeting, and follow up phone conversations. These congregations have reported that there has been some damage to various church properties and member homes, but have not at this time identified a concentrated area of damage to require immediate assistance or preparations for work teams at this time. The BWM will continue to monitor the situation as the relief efforts continue.

EWI Province (Caribbean and Virgin Islands)

The BWM has been in contact with leadership of the EWI province, and they have reported the current difficulty of sustaining reliable and ongoing communications between many of the islands, in particular St. John’s and St. Croix. This tragic situation is still unfolding, as Hurricane Maria seems to have hit both areas already impacted by Hurricane Irma, but also new areas as well.

Specifically, Rev. Cortroy Jarvis, Chairman of the EWI Province and chair of the Worldwide Moravian Unity, says that the situation in St. John is especially bad; the sanctuary and manse of Emmaus Moravian Church there have been destroyed and the roof of the Bethany Moravian Church was blown off. Antigua is doing pretty well but very involved with relief efforts in Barbuda. Air travel to Tortola and St. Thomas has not been restored as yet and communication is difficult.

Shared below is a portion of an update just sent by Jørgen Bøytler, Unity Board Administrator.  It encompasses much of the information the BWM would like to share at this time, especially in regards to the damage in the Virgin Islands. As this letter calls for consideration of donations to support this work, please know you can send donations through the BWM (information below), and that our office is receiving a high volume of donations each day. An initial transfer of funds has already been made to the EWI Province, with more to follow shortly as specific uses are identified. 

Greetings in the name of our Chief Elder.

I take this opportunity to send a special message and request to you, the leaders of the Provinces of the Moravian Unity.

Our brothers and sisters on a number of islands in the Caribbean have been hit by the tropical category 5 storms Irma and Maria. In many of the islands, where the Moravian Church is present, the result is devastating.

Rev. Dion Christopher, based in St. Croix, USVI reports: We are in a bad way in the VI. We are going to need help and much prayers for the foreseeable future. Many homes and Churches irreparably damaged. Lives lost. I have never seen so much hurt and pain and despair. This is beyond my wildest imagination.

Reports from Rev. Cortroy Jarvis suggest how devastating the storms have been on Tortola, Barbuda and other islands. Cuba has been hit. We are still awaiting further reports.

There is a need of showing solidarity and compassion with the peoples of the Caribbean countries and also Florida, US.

Moravian Provinces are hereby in a Christian spirit asked to remember in prayers our brothers and sisters and all other people in the hidden areas.

There are numerous people who have lost their homes and means of living. Many Moravian congregations are now facing needs for in part or total reconstruction of buildings, including sanctuaries. Already some Moravian Provinces have been collecting money and forwarding help to some of the hidden islands. This is very encouraging.

We ask Provinces of the Unity for help and assistance, this is a special and unusual situation. We are called upon, as Moravians, to offer our help and assistance. Any prayer, any amount of money is important and appreciated.

Grace and peace

Jørgen Bøytler

MDR and the Board of World Mission is monitoring the situation and is in contact with partner organizations as immediate and long term needs are assessed. If you are feeling called to help respond, please see avenues for donating and volunteering below. 

Make a Donation

Donations to help support MDR as it partners in the recovery can be made online by going to Please use the online giving form, and in comments designate the Donation for “Moravian Disaster Response”.

Donations within the U.S. can also be sent directly to the Board of World Mission at the address below. In the memo line of any checks please write “Moravian Disaster Response”.
Board of World Mission
PO Box 1245
Bethlehem, PA 18016

Canadian Churches may send donations to the following address in order to receive full tax credit for your donation and they will be sent along to the BWM:
Moravian Church in Canada
600 Acadia Drive SE
Calgary, AB T2J 0B8

NOTE: We are requesting funds be designated for general disaster response to allow the BWM to respond with the flexibility needed in this ongoing situation. All funds under this designation will be used for disaster response.



If you are interested in getting information on joining teams to help in the recovery and rebuilding efforts for this, or other disasters, please use this link to enter your contact information, and the BWM will follow up with you regarding any specific opportunities to get involved.

Please contact the BWM with any questions.
Northern Province Office: 610.868.1732
Southern Province Office: 336.773.1732

Justin Rabbach
Director of Mission Engagement
Board of World Mission


For more information and additional updates, visit or on Facebook.



Transcript: Hello, I’m Justin Rabbach with the Moravian Board of world mission. I want to take a moment to update you on the current work of Moravian Disaster Response or MDR.

First, let me say that the information provided in this video as well as any further updates will be posted to both our website and our Facebook page which can be found by searching Moravian Board of World Mission. To begin let me say thank you to the generous donors and many gifts that have come in to support this work in our response of Hurricane Harvey and of Moravian Disaster Response. We ask you to continue to share broadly the opportunity to give through the Board of World Mission as we seek to spend every penny and every dollar that comes in on responding to these disasters.

Hurricane Harvey: MDR has been working and in communication with our partners of the Unity of the Brethren Church in Texas.
 They have several congregations in the Houston area. The most impacted has been a congregation in Port Arthur Texas to the east of Houston. This particular congregation has experienced extensive flooding resulting in the loss of much of the items in the church from the piano to the organ, the carpeting the pews and likely further structural damage that will be assessed as the floodwaters recede. Many members of this congregation and community are in emergency shelters and are waiting temporary housing solutions. Please join us in prayer and as we join with the Unity of the Brethren making a plan for ways that volunteer teams can help in this rebuilding process and also ways that financial donations can be used most effectively to help the many individuals without flood insurance and those looking to get back into their home’s as quickly as they can.

For Hurricane Irma,  many of you may also be following this Hurricane, a Category 5 storm currently over the US and British Virgin Islands. The Board of World Mission has been in touch with Cortroy Jarvis, President of the Eastern West Indies and let him know that they are in our thoughts and prayers, and he has said that he will communicate as soon as he can following the storm after the returning of electricity and power and phone communications to let us know the extent of the damage and the ways that Moravian Board of World Mission can be responding to that area and disaster as well tracking that storm. Looking ahead this week other Moravian areas may also be impacted including Haiti possibly Jamaica and likely Cuba as well.

We ask for your particular prayers for Cuba as it was to hold its synod early next week along with representatives of the Board of World Mission and the Armando Rusindo Mission Foundation who were to travel this weekend to Cuba. It’s likely that all of these plans will be impacted or changed and we hope that early next week the work of the church can continue but also it may be a very real reality that are work and focus changes due to this hurricane there. Then also we are aware of the path and the potential hurricane could turn north to the eastern coast of the United States possibly impacting Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina and we ask your continued prayers of support as these people are getting ready for the potential impact of this hurricane as well. Finally I think it’s appropriate to mention hurricane Matthew which made landfall last October. Currently one of the Moravian Disaster Response trailers is still in the community of West Lumberton, North Carolina helping to rebuild a home.

I spoke with the individual coordinating the response there this morning and he reminded me that tens of thousands of homes were impact in that area and even as we hear about hurricane Harvey and hurricane Irma there are many who have been impacted by Hurricane Matthew and many other storms in places around the US. So we ask that in your prayers you remember all those individuals still displaced from their homes and looking to get back in and pray that we can be generous with our resources and our time, talents, and gifts to respond to these disasters and crisis.

To that, the Board of World Mission invites you to respond in one or more of the three following ways:

If you wish to serve you can go to our website and scroll to the bottom and find a web form you can fill out to give your name and contact information and the ways that you would like to be involved in serving on a disaster response team. Please be patient as we wait for more information about the particular ways that we can respond but then the BWM will be in touch with you about the ways in which you can get involved on a response team.

If you wish to join in prayer together as a community of faith the BWM is also posting an adapted version of the intercession in time of crisis, a liturgy from the Moravian Book of Worship. You can find that on our website adapted for some of these current disaster situations. We ask that we could join together in prayer perhaps with your congregation on a upcoming Sunday.

And finally, if you would like to give. We thank those who have already made contributions and if you would you can consider going to to give online using our secure donation form or you can visit the website and also find our mailing information for the BWM offices and making out checks to MDR if there’s a particular calling on your heart to give to Hurrican Harvey or to Hurricane Irma or a particular disaster you can make that designation but I would also ask for your consideration to make the check out or the donation just to Moravian Disaster Response. It helps us to respond quickly and as needs arise to give us the most flexibility to work with our partners.

Thank you for all of you who are following this ongoing situation and we hope to continue to keep you updated. As always if you have questions please email me at

Moravian Daily Texts


Friday, September 21 — Psalm 108:6–13
1 Samuel 13; John 1:43–51

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it. Genesis 2:15

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

Creator of the universe, what a privilege you have gifted to us! You have entrusted us to care for the beautiful world that you have created. May we be worthy of that trust. May we tend your garden well. Teach us to be wise stewards and to care gently for the earth and all her creatures. Amen.

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