Moravian Church in North America

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Moravian Church in North America
North: Bethlehem, Pa.
South: Winston-Salem, N.C.

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A Feast of Song: Central Moravian Church choir tours Jamaica

jamaicaintroAs the new year 2012 approached, a group of 24 Moravians from Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem brought their voices — and appetites — to the sunny climes of Jamaica. Central Moravian organist and music director Rebecca Kleintop Owens shares her thoughts on the hymns, Moravian traditions and amazing Jamaican food made for a fabulous feast of a trip.Our group of 24 Moravians arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica after seven hours travel from Bethlehem. That first day, we enjoyed the beautiful Jamaican sunshine, sand and ocean; on Wednesday, we traveled in two vans and enjoyed a pig roast in St. Leonards.

That evening, we presented our first concert in St. Elizabeth at the Springfield Moravian Church, a beautiful church on the top of a gorgeous mountain. The church was built in 1847, but was founded in the 1750s as a Moravian mission to the large slave population.

On Thursday, we had the unique experience of observing the enthusiastic celebration of the Jamaican National Election. Throughout the country, the Jamaican people wore green or orange clothing, depending on the candidate they supported. Since no formal public gatherings were allowed on Election Day, we were unable to present a concert, so instead, we traveled to the North Coast of Jamaica where many of the group climbed the scenic Dunn’s River Falls.

jamaica4That evening, our vans weren’t able to drive us back to the hotel because of the huge crowds of excited Jamaicans celebrating the victory of Sister Portia. Instead, all 24 of us walked the remaining distance through the crowds of celebrants and military from the heart of the city of Mandeville to our nearby hotel. We all agreed that the enthusiastic participation of the Jamaican voting process was absolutely inspiring!

On Friday morning, we visited the National Institute of Jamaica in Kingston and presented a concert at Covenant Moravian Church. Following the concert, we were treated to a delicious dinner at the Morris Knibb Moravian Prep School.

jamaica2On Saturday, (New Year’s Eve), we experienced Juici Patties, a Jamaican fast food establishment… it was delicious! Later that day, we performed at the New Beulah Moravian Church to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Bethlehem Moravian College. Returning to Kingston that evening, some of our group attended the Watchnight Service at Redeemer Moravian Church while others stayed back and enjoyed the fireworks display from our hotel.

On New Year’s Day, we celebrated a three hour worship service and Holy Communion (with Bishop Hopeton Clennon, who helped plan and lead the tour,  presiding) at the Harbour View Moravian Church. The choir sang several pieces as a part of this worship experience and I even got to play some hymns and play along with their praise band musicians. Following the worship service, we boarded our vans and traveled to Port Royal where we enjoyed yet another wonderful feast of seafood before heading home.

We were so thankful for the many months of planning by Hopeton and Alice and Craig Mosebach.  What a powerful team! Their joy, enthusiasm, warmth, guidance, and spiritual leadership were evident throughout the entire journey.

We drove over 300 miles and experienced all three counties of Jamaica. The food was extraordinary. Everywhere we went, we were treated to ackee and saltfish, boiled rice and peas, jerk pork, jerk chicken, curried goat, boiled bananas, and the group’s favorite, a Christmas drink called sorrel. What a Jamaican feast!

We were overwhelmed by the beauty of the country and most especially, the extraordinary energy, friendliness and hospitality of the Jamaican Moravian congregations. Not only were our physical bodies fed, but so were our spiritual bodies as we worshiped together through daily devotions, and singing hymns and anthems in different Moravian Churches. We were reminded of the privilege we have in being able to worship with our Moravian brothers and sisters, and that regardless of culture, distance, worship styles or language, “We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.

There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.” Ephesians 4: 4,5

Rebecca Kleintop Owens is choir director at Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pa.


From the March 2012 Moravian Magazine

Moravian Daily Texts


Wednesday, September 26 — Psalm 110
1 Samuel 16:14–17:31; John 3:16–26

The Lord will keep your foot from being caught. Proverbs 3:26

We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

O God, our guide and protector, as we follow the path that you have laid before us—some days we walk with difficulty, some days we run with ease and some days we dance with joyful abandon. You are right beside us through it all. Thanks be to God! Amen.

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