The name “Moravian” started out as a nickname in eastern Germany in the 1720s because refugees belonging to the church came from Moravia to the estate of the wealthy Saxon nobleman Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf.
The official name of the Moravian Church is the Unitas Fratrum, or Unity of Brethren. This was the original name of the church when it was founded back in 1457 in the Bohemian forests. Today, the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church in America are part of the worldwide Unitas Fratrum.
Moravians number nearly a million worldwide and stand in the mainstream of Protestantism. They have been members of the World Council of Churches since its inception. They are also active members of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and participants in Christian Churches Together in the USA. In addition, the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church are in full communion relationships with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church, and in a covenant partnership with the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Moravians do not proselytize. When new churches are being considered, Moravians look for areas with a growing population but few churches so that duplication of effort is avoided. They have always been primarily interested in serving according to local needs and cooperating with other churches as partners.
In accepting other creeds of the Christian Church (such as the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, the Augsburg Confession) and in its practice, the Moravian Church has always stood by its motto: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love.”
The Northern Province of the Moravian Church in America, headquartered in Bethlehem, Pa., counts nearly 21,000 members in 85 congregations in 13 states in the U.S. and two Canadian provinces. The Southern Province, headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., includes nearly 16,000 members in 55 congregations, which are located primarily throughout the Southeast. Moravian congregations can be found in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington DC, along with congregations in Alberta and Ontario, Canada. The worldwide Moravian Church consists of 19 provinces with more than 1 million members, half of which live in Africa.