Because you’re reading this letter in this magazine, we’ll presume that you have affection and appreciation for the Moravian Church. We’ll also presume you want to thrive in your faith, and you want the Moravian Church to thrive in carrying out Christ’s mission as it has been doing for centuries. But because you’ve been paying attention, maybe you have noticed that the Moravian Church, at least in North America, has gotten smaller over the last few decades. Maybe you’ve also noticed our beloved church doesn’t seem as effective as it might have been in its storied past.
We’ve noticed the same thing. And we want to address it.
We are members of the IPO Task Force, a working group whose abbreviation stands for “Identity, Purpose and Organization.” We were appointed by the Provincial Elders Conference to follow up and carry out work begun before the 2014 Northern Province Synod and voted upon at that gathering.
Synod Resolution 18 calls for the development of a process that allows everyone to engage in listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and participate in conversations to discover just where it is the Holy Spirit is inviting the Moravian Church, Northern Province, to go. Designing a method for accomplishing this before the 2018 Provincial Synod is one of the key jobs of our Task Force.
We have been meeting and making preparations, and will introduce the process we’ve designed at each of the upcoming District Synods (Ed. Note: See article on the Western District Synod April 28-May 1 on page 14 and the Canadian District Synod May 12-15 on page 13; information on the Eastern District Synod, June 22-25, will be shared in our May issue.) After these Synods, look for regional gatherings where we’ll all have a chance to express the ideas, understandings, and dreams about what God has in store for the Moravian Church.
We are proud of our church’s heritage and enthusiastic about our church’s future. (Please see the Key Affirmations from the original IPO report in the box above.) We hope you will join us in this important conversation. As Count Nikolaus von Zinzendorf once said, “There can be no Christianity without community.”
With All Hopefulness,
The IPO Task Force: The Rev. Margaret Weller, Convener; Gregory Behrend; the Rev. Christine Johnson; the Rev. Gary Marsh; the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Miller; the Rev. Tracy Pryor; Justin Rabbach; the Rev. Eric Renner; and Linda Schaffer
The Rev. Christine Johnson is pastor of Fry’s Valley Moravian Church in New Philadelphia, Ohio and a member of the Northern Province IPO Task Force.
Key Affirmations Guiding the Conversation on Identity, Purpose and Organization
- God is at work in the world, through the movement of the Holy Spirit among individuals, congregations, agencies and denominations.
- God called the Moravian Church into being centuries ago, as a people whose identity emerged out of faithfulness in the midst of persecution, exile in the midst of political and religious conflict, and a love for Jesus that sent us out of nurturing communities to bear witness to God’s amazing grace to those whom the world had forgotten.
- God has been in the midst of the Moravian Church Northern Province throughout its life, leading it to engage in meaningful ministry in the name of Jesus.
- God is continuing to lead the Province today in the midst of significant change taking place within the church and the world around us, requiring us to engage carefully and reflectively in mutual discernment as we continue our journey in ministry.
From “Recommendations of the Task Force on Identity, Purpose and Organization (IPO),” report prepared for the Provincial Elders’ Conference, December 2013