A strong commitment to a biblical faith inherited from ancient Unitas Fratrum and a zeal for mission work that came with the eighteenth century renewal of the church remain as hallmarks of the Moravian Church today.
Education has always played a vital part in Moravian church life. Moravian schools and some colleges are found in Germany, England and America as well as in mission fields. Strong Christian educational programs are an integral part of each congregation’s life. Camps, conferences and retreats are held in each area of the church for children, youth and adults.
Worship in the Moravian tradition has strong emphasis on a rich musical heritage. Chorales and hymns reflect the staunch faith of the Moravian Church and the creativity of the eighteenth century pietists. The Moravian Music Foundation has uncovered a treasury of early American Moravian music in the church archives and attics of Moravian churches. Trombone choirs or brass bands traditionally play for festivals of the church in many congregations.
Camping and Outdoor Ministries
“Most of our learning today comes from books or such media as television. Most of us live in crowded cities. We ride on concrete streets and highways. We even worship at a fixed time on a fixed day. Because of this we have a special need to discover anew the wonder of God’s creation. We need time for reflection, for prayer, for worship. We need to open our lives to God’s call for commitment, for service. This we find in the environment of a church camp.”
— Bishop George G. Higgins, June 1962
Bishop Higgins’ words from 50 years ago still ring true today. The Moravian Church’s commitment to outdoor ministries offer an escape from the fast-paced world and unique opportunities for spiritual growth in both children and adults.
Community Outreach Ministries
In addition to the many individual community outreach efforts of Moravian congregations across the U.S., the Moravian Church in North America sponsors two ministries to offer support to people in need, regardless of faith. The Northern Province supports Moravian Open Door in New York City, while the Southern Province supports Sunnyside Ministry in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Board of World Mission
The Moravian Church has historically been a church dedicated to bringing people to our Lord and to sharing Christ’s love and Word throughout the world, and the call to our church today is no different, even though how we do that may be very different. Through our mission the church participates in God’s action within the world.
The Board of World Mission (BWM) is the overseas mission sending and support agency of the Moravian Church in America. It continues the work begun in 1745 by the Society for Propagating the Gospel, North America’s oldest Protestant mission society. Founded in 1949, BWM acts on behalf of the Northern Province, Southern Province, and Alaskan Province of the Moravian Church and its affiliate Unity of the Brethren.
For the Moravians, music has always been considered as a necessity of life, not as a cultural veneer. Many Moravian clergy and lay people in the eighteenth century were trained in music by the same composers who influenced Mozart and Haydn; thus they came to the New World fully conversant with the taste and practice of European classicism.
Instruments came to America early with the Moravians; by 1742 Bethlehem had flutes, violins, violas da braccio, violas da gamba, and horns. These instruments were played not by “professionals” but by accomplished amateurs, who enjoyed orchestral and chamber music as well as accompanying vocal solos and anthems for worship.