In August, a group of young Moravians from the Northern and Southern Provinces joined counterparts from across the Moravian Unity for the 2013 Unity Youth Heritage Tour. The Tour, which traced the roots of the Ancient Unity and renewed Moravian Church in Europe, offered an opportunity to visit the cradle of the Moravian Church.
We asked those who attended to share their perspective and insights into the meaning of this opportunity to them.
Jenna Nodine & Andrew Craver
Southern Province Representatives
Having the opportunity to take off two weeks and come together in fellowship with other Moravians at the birthplace of our denomination is not something that most of our sisters and brothers get to do in today’s world. Busy adult lives, travel expenses and the logistics of organizing a trip at this scale are realistic and often impassible barriers.
The Youth Heritage Tour was a chance for young adults across several provinces (British European, European Continental, East and West Indies, Jamaica, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa, USA Southern and USA Northern) to discover their Moravian roots. The Unity organized the Youth Heritage Tour, a 14-day conference from August 10-24, 2013, to show young adults exactly from where, and from whom, Moravians come.
We began the first week in Herrnhut, Germany. The second half of our tour consisted of visits to Dresden, Kunvald and the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic, historic Ebersdorf and Herrnhag (Germany), the close-knit community of Zeist in The Netherlands and the modern congregations of Amsterdam.
“Mission Possible” was the theme. Through a great deal of discussion, devotions, and tours, our diverse group of 28 walked through the same fields, trails and rooms that our Moravian ancestors wandered. The Youth Heritage Tour fell at a special time in the historical records of Moravians, and it was an eye-opening experience to celebrate the renewal of the Moravian church in the same sanctuary as those present in Berthelsdorf on August 13, 1727.
Unifying qualities of the ancient Unitas Fratrum presented themselves throughout the tour as we recognized the likenesses between things as simple as the classic white uniformity of European sanctuaries and as powerful as sharing the Daily Text in our diverse native tongues. We also embraced the variety in our congregations and provinces. It was a celebration to learn about the cultures that Moravians all over the world come from.
By the end of our short time together, it is safe to say that we were all aware of our mission as young adult Moravians to function as a model of Christianity. This serves a combination of both a uniform belief system as well as a flexibility to mesh into different cultures. The time we all shared together in work, play, and travel reflects the successes of the Moravian church today. It continues to grow out of a deep heritage that reshaped the history of the Christian Church.
Northern Province Representative
The Youth Heritage Tour of 2013 is an event that I will continue to value. I am drawing from my experiences there to better understand some of our Moravian traditions that I come across on a regular basis in the Northern Province. I cherish the international relationships I made with the other people on this trip and I have no doubt that in time, these relationships will be renewed as we continue to work as brothers and sisters of the Unitas Fratrum.
Throughout our travels in Germany, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands, some of my favorite moments occurred in Herrnhut, Germany. To stand in God’s Acre, in Zinzendorf’s workroom, at Zinzendorf’s table (where the Daily Text are created each year), and to have communion at the same church and on the same date (August 13th) as our brothers and sisters did in 1727, committing themselves to a renewed church, was indescribable and extremely inspiring to me.
Thank you to those people of the Northern Province for sponsoring me on this trip and for your thoughts and prayers. I hope that opportunities like the Youth Heritage Tour continue so that other young Moravians may have the same kind of experiences.
Northern Province Representative
It was an honor to be one of the youth selected to represent the Northern Province on the Moravian Heritage Tour to Germany, Prague and the Netherlands. It was educational and a wonderful experience, one I will never forget.
The Moravian Youth Council of the Eastern District holds their Youth Rally each year; one of the highlights of the Rally is for churches to compete in a Quiz Bowl. For that competition, youth study Moravian history and a book of the Bible, so it was exciting for me to actually visit some of the places I studied when I represented my church. I spent the night in Count Zinzendorf’s castle, visited the Chalice Rocks and Kunvald, learned the history of the Daily Texts, saw the statue of John Hus in the square in Prague (my home church in Brooklyn is named for him), visited the Bethlehem chapel where John Hus preached, celebrated the August 13 renewal with Holy Communion in Herrnhut, and worshiped in different Moravian churches in different languages (not understanding the language sometimes but enjoying the experience).
The whole tour made a great impact on my life and made me view things differently. One of my favorite sites we visited was the Moravian forest which had many sculptures, including one with the different praying hand positions representing diversity. We all pray differently and in different positions but at the end of the day we are all praying to one God and that is important. God is the head, we are all different, but we come together to do his work.
I could go on and on about this trip but words cannot explain the wonderful feeling I got from being on this tour. I met Moravians from different countries; we had open panel discussions that allowed us to compare our worship experience. We learned how our worship varies in different cultures but in all cultures one thing remains the same, our love for music, so we had an opportunity to learn and teach new songs from our different backgrounds during our daily devotion.
New bonds were created and it was sad when the tour ended but I was happy to be a part of this experience and I will share my experiences with youth of the Province.
Unity Youth Steering Committee Representative
The Unity Youth Heritage Tour was an excellent experience not only to learn about the Moravian history but also to meet members of the tour who gathered from all over the world. For me there was a deep connection to my roots, especially in Herrnhut. I felt that the things I have been taught in today’s Moravian church are still very similar to what was taught in the early 1700’s.
This tour has helped me better understand where our Church came from and how we have been a part of God’s plan. Our church is built on love and we experienced that from the 26 other Moravians on this trip all of whom live in different cultures of this world. We all have many differences including our different languages but we all still experience and worship God the similar ways as we do here in the United States.
This tour was filled with young Moravians who have experienced and been a part of wonderful ministries all over the world. Many of these young adults have given much of their time and effort in their young lives and because of this tour will now be able to educate their friends, families and churches with a better understanding of the history of the Moravian church and how the Moravian Church is serving people in other parts of the world in 2013.