In February, a team of Moravians from around the world gathered in Florida to address the role of the worldwide Unitas Fratrum.
Established by the 2009 Unity Synod in London, The Unity Committee on Theology (UCOT) serves the Unity Board in the years between synods. The Committee includes two members from each of the four regions of the worldwide Moravian Church (Caribbean/Latin America; Africa; Europe and America).
The Rev. Dr. Amy Gohdes-Luhman, pastor of Waconia Moravian Church in Minnesota, and the Rev. John D. Rights, pastor of Konnoak Hills Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., represent the two North American provinces with the UCOT. Members are approved by the Unity Executive Board to serve seven-year terms for up to two consecutive terms.
The UCOT meets two or three times in the intersynodal period to discuss matters of ecclesiology and doctrine as the Unity Board directs. In this most recent intersynodal period UCOT has met in Herrnhut, Germany and Capetown, South Africa. The Committee, along with Unity Board Administrator Jørgen Bøytler, held its most recent four-day meeting at Prince of Peace Moravian Church in Miami this February.
During its most recent meetings, the UCOT has been discussing the Role of the Unity worldwide. What is it theologically and ecclesiologically that holds our independent provinces in Unity? How is our Unity a biblical model for the earthly Church? The work of UCOT—minutes, statements, reports and papers—are submitted to the Unity Board, which consists of one member of the Provincial board of each of the 20-plus provinces governed by synod. Any actions based on the UCOT’s work are taken at the board- or synod-level.
The Church Order of the Unitas Fratrum (COUF) states, “The Unitas Fratrum cherishes its unity as a valuable treasure entrusted to it by the Lord.” It is this valuable treasure that UCOT is serving, while acknowledging that we are a Unity made up of legally independent provinces that vary in language, culture and biblical interpretation. Having a committee dedicated to theological discussion across these cultural differences helps our church to tend and nurture the complex Unity we share. Our Unity Synod will meet in 2016 in Jamaica and following that meeting some of the faces around the UCOT table may change; the commitment to the Unity will not.
Pastor Joe Nicholas and the church leaders of Prince of Peace Moravian Church in Miami organized all aspects of the committee’s lodging, meals, transportation and sight-seeing. The hospitality we were shown was phenomenal. The food was tasty and abundant; the fellowship was warm and inviting.
Our meeting days were followed by days visiting Moravian Churches and Fellowships in and around Miami, including New Hope, Margate, King of Kings and the Suriname Fellowship. On Sunday evening, the area Moravians gathered at Prince of Peace for a service of worship and sharing of talent, complete with choirs, dancing, poetry readings and a steel drum band.
The churches in Southern Florida, many of whom were established following the war in Nicaragua in the 1980s, share a membership of people from all of the various islands, Suriname, as well as many Nicaraguans. All call Miami, “their home away from home.”
On the day before we left, Rev. Ted Wilde and Margaret, his wife, took us to the Everglades for a stroll among the crocodiles and blue herons, followed by a meal at a locally-owned Nicaraguan Restaurant called: La Hormiga De Oro (The Golden Ant). I recommend it!
UCOT is grateful to the Unity Board and the Moravian Foundation for its commitment to promoting and encouraging ongoing theological conversation in service to the Unity. It is a privilege to the greater Moravian Church to meet many Moravian sisters and brothers from around the globe! ■
The Rev. Dr. Amy Gohdes-Luhman, Chair of UCOT, is pastor of Waconia Moravian Church, Waconia, Minnesota. Photo below: UCOT members were hosted by Prince of Peace Moravian Church in Miami.
From the April 2015 Moravian Magazine