On the cover: Moravian clergy sing during worship at the Interprovincial Clergy Retreat in Harrisonburg, Va. Photo: Mike Riess
In my last Ponderings, I wrote of sad changes in my family’s life. This month, I get to write about happier change and introduce you to new people here at the Interprovincial Board of Communication (IBOC).
In the past two months, we welcomed Arlene Clendenning as our new customer service/business assistant, followed not long after by Renee Schoeller as our new communication assistant. While this much change in staffing can be daunting — two-thirds of the IBOC office team is now new — I’m seeing it as an opportunity to continue our work, while bringing in new skills and perspectives.
The magnificent mountains surrounding the Laurel Ridge Conference Center rang with joyful sounds during April’s Southern Province Women’s Spiritual Life Retreat, led by the Rev. Dr. Nola Reed Knouse, director of the Moravian Music Foundation.
“Jesus-God With Us,” the theme of the retreat, and was illuminated in every session. Friday night’s group session included views of many pieces of artwork depicting Jesus. We could see how every culture that believes in Jesus pictures him in their image and in the context of their culture. Every participant had her favorite image.
Lent 2013 was an especially important season for New Philadelphia Moravian Church as it launched a new project to enhance its members’ personal and corporate Lenten journeys. A Lenten Devotion Guide was produced, with each daily entry written by a church member. Members of the Trustees and Board of Elders led the way, writing more than half of the devotions. The remainder of the submissions came from other church leaders and volunteers.
The Rev. James L. Johnson, husband of Edith Tesch Johnson, joined the heavenly church triumphant June 29 after a time of illness. Jim served as associate pastor and then pastor of Little Church on the Lane, in Charlotte, N.C. from 1959 to 1972, followed by 27 years of community leadership with United Family Services in Charlotte.
In 2002, Jim was recognized for his ministry to the needs of families and his community in receiving the John Hus Award from Moravian Theological Seminary.
Brother James O. Bruckart died in Riverside, New Jersey, June 19, 2013, at the age of 87.
Born April 1, 1926 in Lancaster, Pa. he was the son of Albert and Susan (Huber) Bruckart. Brother Bruckart attended public schools in Lancaster, graduating from J. P. McCaskey High School in 1944. He graduated from Moravian College in 1947 and Moravian Theological Seminary in 1949. He was ordained a Deacon in the Moravian ministry September 11, 1949 and consecrated a Presbyter September 6, 1955.
Recently at the Interprovincial Ministers Retreat in Harrisonburg, Va., our main presenter, Will Willimon, spent some time talking about his observation that we live in an age where the church as we know it is being changed and reassembled in dramatic fashion. This idea is not new; according to recent Pew Research statistics and others, many confirm Mainline Denominations are changing and shifting in dramatic ways.
For the first time in more than a decade, Moravian pastors from the Northern and Southern Provinces came together for three days of learning, relaxation, worship and spiritual refreshment.
In late May, more than 60 active and retired Moravian clergy from congregations in the United States and Canada gathered on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., for the event.
“When learning to drive, my parents urged me to be especially alert when going through intersections. “Slow down, look both ways and be alert” were advisory words I heard often before and after I began to drive. Little did I know then that my parents were giving me a life lesson, not just driver advice. As I have aged, I have become convinced that it is in life’s crossroads — life and death, sickness and health, youth to aging, grief and hope, caregiver to care-receiver, school to work, belief and doubt, or from innocence to loss of innocence — that one needs to slow down, look both ways, and be alert.” — from the preface of Crossroads: Stories at the Intersections.
The 2013 Moravian Unity Brass Festival was held May 17-21 in the Moravian community of Bad Boll, Germany. This year’s festival, known as “Bläsertag 2013,” was the second Unity-wide gathering of brass players; the first event was in 2007 in South Africa and coincided with the 550th anniversary (1457-2007) of the Unity.
About 350 brass players attended the long weekend (Friday-Tuesday) festival, representing five countries: Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United States (my wife, Nola Knouse, and I “represented” the U.S.). This year’s festival was held on Pentecost weekend, with special services on Sunday and Monday.
Prayer Day for World Peace and Nuclear Disarmament August 4, 2013
In accordance with legislation enacted at the 1982 Synod of the Northern Province and affirmed by the 1990 Synod, the first Sunday in August has been designated as a day of prayer for world peace and nuclear disarmament.
Prayer Day for Public EducationAugust 25, 2013
Congregations of the Northern Province are asked to observe Public Education Awareness Day on the last Sunday in August. Prepared liturgies, intercessory prayers for students and all who teach in and administer public schools and sermons at worship may call attention to our responsibility for public education and seek the blessing of God upon these endeavors.
Moravian Theological Seminary celebrated the conclusion of its 206th academic year with a commencement ceremony on May 11, 2013. The service was held in Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pa., with retiring President Christopher M. Thomforde presiding and presenting the Commencement Address.
Twenty-six graduates received master’s degrees and certificates including the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling (MAPC), Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS), and Certificate in Formative Spirituality.
So you’ve just bought a new songbook, or just found the perfect new hymn that fits the theme of an upcoming service. And you’re so excited about hearing your congregation sing a new song!
But you’ve heard horror stories about a new song “falling flat,” where people just fold their arms and refuse to try to sing it. Or the comments you’ve heard after worship show that the new song didn’t “fly” like you’d hoped it would, and now you’re not sure they’ll ever sing this one. Or try another.
The United Brethren’s Church of Staten Island Board of Elders, to the Moravian Church of the Northern Province and the Southern Province:
“Grace to you and peace.
“We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The opening words of Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica seem an appropriate way for the Moravian congregations of Staten Island to share our thanks with you, our sisters and brothers across the Northern and Southern Provinces, for your amazing response to the needs generated by Superstorm Sandy!
Many of us think of Moravian music as rich old hymns from hundreds of years ago. But today, there’s a creative spark alight in Moravian musicians bringing a new glimmer to the jewel of Moravian musical tradition.
To celebrate the musical gifts of today’s Moravian Church in North America, the Moravian Music Foundation and the Interprovincial Board of Communication have introduced Sing to the Lord a New Song: A New Moravian Songbook.