About six years ago I began searching for Moravians in and around Greenville, South Carolina. I was raised and confirmed in the Moravian faith in Wisconsin, attending the Freedom Moravian Church in Appleton with my parents, brother and two sisters. However, after graduating high school I left the area and lost touch with the Moravians.
Many years passed before I felt the pull to return to what I still considered my faith. After having lived in various locations around the country and then settling in Mauldin, S.C. (not far from Greenville), I decided to begin my search for a Moravian church on the Internet which reaped the result of locating a “Moravian Fellowship” in Spartanburg, not far from Mauldin. One weekday afternoon, my daughter and I put the Fellowship’s address in my GPS and headed to Spartanburg.
We found the Fellowship located in the Cannon Memorial Chapel of the Central United Methodist Church, Spartanburg’s oldest church. The Fellowship is the only organized group of Moravians in South Carolina. Central’s pastor warmly welcomed us in and showed us the chapel where the Fellowship worshiped each Sunday morning. We were graciously welcomed here too and have been attending ever since.
A fellowship is born
The history of the Palmetto Fellowship begins in the fall of 1990, when a group of Moravians in the upstate of South Carolina met for the first time to share a meal and fellowship. The group decided that it would meet one Sunday evening each month alternately in homes belonging to its members.
The meeting locations were rotated so that each family had a feeling of belonging. The group met in Walhalla, Seneca, Greenville, Taylors, Inman, Cowpens, and Spartanburg, S.C, and as far away as Hendersonville, N.C. They would gather for supper and afterward have a time of prayer and worship.
Not long after the meetings began, the Moravian Church recognized the group as an “official Fellowship.” It was then arranged for Rev. F. Herbert Weber, a retired Moravian minister, to travel from Charlotte, N.C., to Spartanburg, to lead worship at the monthly gatherings. A short time later, two services each month were held, and in 1993, worship services were held each Sunday morning.
Rev. Weber was known and well loved by many in the Fellowship due to their memberships in the congregations he had served over the years. A good number of the members knew him personally before he even started participating in the meetings. He was a strong supporter from the very start and made sure the group was kept updated about Moravian activities throughout the Southern Province. This was before the Internet, email, smartphones and even the common use of cell phones. Communication was achieved by writing letters! Many knew him as the most Christ-like person they had ever met.
A blessed place
The Fellowship was blessed with a generous gift along the way that was given by Central United Methodist Church—the use of their beautifully decorated Cannon Memorial Chapel, made available anytime the Fellowship wished. The Fellowship was even allowed to hang a sign outside the building which is along a major thoroughfare. The Fellowship is thankful for Central’s generosity and continued support.
Some of the ways the Fellowship reaches out to the local community is through the sharing of Moravian traditions. It hosts Lovefeasts in commemoration of Moravian events that are held in the chapel where the Fellowship still worships each Sunday morning. It takes part in local events such as the annual Spartanburg International Festival and shares the booth sponsored by the Czech Republic.
The Fellowship supports the local community and ministries through charities and hands-on-events. It supports Moravian Church foundations and foreign Moravian Church missions. It works with its fellow Moravian brothers and sisters through its membership in the Salisbury Road Regional Conference of Churches (RCC), Southern Province. Although the member churches of the RCC are located in and around Charlotte, N.C., about an hour’s drive from Spartanburg, the Fellowship takes part in as many events as possible. Some Fellowship members frequently visit Home Moravia Church in Winston-Salem especially on Easter weekend to take part in its Easter morning sunrise.
An invitation to visit
The Palmetto Moravian Fellowship is located in the Cannon Memorial Chapel of Central United Methodist Church, 233 North Church Street, Spartanburg, S.C., 29306 and worships each Sunday at 9:00 a.m. The Fellowship welcomes worshipers of all faiths. One of the Fellowship’s members, a retired Presbyterian minister, leads worship services two Sundays a month. The remaining Sunday services are presided over by local clergy or visiting Moravian clergy whenever they are available. The Fellowship extends an invitation to, and warmly welcomes, local clergy of all faiths and visiting Moravian clergy to lead their worship services. Holy Communion in the Moravian tradition is celebrated on a regular basis.
The Fellowship can be contacted at 864-582-7263 or through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find Palmetto Fellowship online: palmettomoravianfellowship.org.
Pat Bald is coordinator for Palmetto Moravian Fellowship in Spartanburg, S.C.
From the September/October 2016 Moravian Magazine