On March 1 of this year, a new kind of personal photo began appearing on social media channels like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. While these new types of photos won’t replace the “selfie” any time soon, they do show a very positive face of the Moravian Church around the world.
These new photos, called “Moravian Servies,” sprang from the minds who created Moravian Church Without Walls (MCWW). In one day, hundreds of these images appeared, each with the hashtag #moravianservies, to share the good work of our church.
Stewards of technology resources
“In general, Moravian Church Without Walls is an attempt to be a steward of the technology resources at our fingertips to point people to Jesus in the same way the Moravian Church has been doing this with other resources in past centuries,” says Dan Miller, a soon-to-be-graduating student of Moravian Theological Seminary. “MCWW came to be through a series of experiments; this event, #MoravianServies Day 2016, was one of these experiments.”
“The idea began with MCWW’s mission of being ‘a creative, collaborative community forming connections that let us be bold in faith, be strong together and serve the world as we feel called,’” says Justin Rabbach, a founder of MCWW and currently director of mission engagement with the Board of World Mission. “In brainstorming ideas, we thought about how a ‘selfie’ is really about as self-centered as you can get. So, what would be the opposite of selfie? How about selfless? Service? This led us to the idea: what if we flipped the script by recording ‘servies’ instead of ‘selfies?’”
“With our experience on social media, we recognized how certain hashtags connect people together as they talked about a certain topic,” says Dan. “As we began speaking about the idea of hashtags, it jogged our memories of the many times we’ve heard Moravians that we know yearn to feel more connected to other Moravians.
“The physical distance between us can enhance that yearning,” continues Dan. “We heard Moravians in Wisconsin want to know what Moravians in Pennsylvania are doing and Moravians in North Dakota want to know what Moravians in North Carolina are doing. We felt that collecting pictures, stories, and videos through “#moravianservies” would allow many different people to catch glimpses of what the Moravian Church is up to all over the world.”
A good day to start
The MCWW team chose March 1 – the anniversary of the start of the Unitas Fratrum – as the day to focus on #moravianservies.
“Being relatively well connected in the Moravian world, we see service pictures come across our Facebook feeds every once in a while,” says Justin. “Dan’s idea of focusing on a specific day, with a specific hashtag, was a great way to tie those images and stories together—to recognize that others have had similar life changing and faith shaping experiences and to share the great variety of ways you can find opportunities to engage in service.”
The team shared details of the day through Facebook and other channels about a week before the event. “Our goal on March 1 was to see 559 pictures, videos, and stories tagged as ‘#moravianservies’ for the 559th anniversary of the Unitas Fratrum,” says Dan. “We thought this was a lofty, but achievable goal for us.”
“A strong one day push really filled newsfeeds, and throughout the day I couldn’t believe the variety of service we saw displayed from more than a dozen countries and five continents!” says Justin. “We saw and heard Moravian music, Vacation Bible Schools, construction efforts, mission trips, camps, retreats, congregational activities, games and sermons. I am glad we didn’t try to put any hard boundaries on the definition of service. I think everyone was enriched by the wide variety of service displayed.”
“We saw that people jumped at the chance to share their stories,” adds Dan. “Through these pictures, we saw glimpses of some of the most memorable and influential moments in the spiritual lives of many.
“We also saw that there are Moravians out there just waiting to explore what being “Moravian” looks like in the 21st century. From the responses we got online, this was an effort that brought energy to translating and applying our rich history from one century to this one.”
“The real dream of this effort was to help form connections to ‘be bold in faith and serve the world’ as people feel called,” says Justin. “When asked what makes the Moravian church unique, I often hear ‘our history of missions.’ MCWW’s strongest desire is that our future not be just about our past! All of the photos, videos and stories show that ‘our history of mission’ is not a blip in the past, but a continual, ongoing and ever unfolding story. If even one person’s response to this effort was to consider deeply how God may be calling them to action, we would call it a success.
“I hope that #MoravianServies continues to be used, and is seen as a statement by individuals that they want their service to be a part of the shared history of the Moravian Community. You never know how a ‘bright idea’ will go. Some from MCWW have been flops, this one was fun, and inspires me to try and find other ways to claim our older traditions in new ways!”
Want to share your service? Use hashtag #Moravianservies when posting photos of your church activities on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. And to see some of the many images from around the world, search “#Moravianservies” on your favorite social media site. For more on Moravian Church Without Walls, visit their Facebook Page or mcwithoutwalls.org.
From the April/May 2016 Moravian Magazine