Book Review—Forged: Following Jesus Into a New Kind of Family

What do a former foster child, the only child of a schizophrenic single mother; an 18th century German hymn writer/deaconess and a high school dropout-turned-Moravian pastor have in common? All three of us have found ourselves at the intersection of a “forged family,” a non-nuclear collaboration of people who love each other, care for each other’s needs, and follow our Lamb into joyful service through community.

The former foster child, the Rev. T.C. Moore, pastor of Roots Moravian Church in St. Paul, Minn., explores these ideas in his new book, Forged: Following Jesus Into a New Kind of Family. The hymn writer, Henriette Maria Louise von Hayn, also wrote about this beautiful forged Moravian family when she commented in her memoir, “I left a pair of loving parents, but here (Herrnhut) it was as though I found a hundred fathers and mothers all at once.” I, the high school dropout-turned pastor, had the honor to review T.C.’s book before it was released to the general public. I found in the book even more ties that bind myself and my “fictive kin” throughout Moravian history and into my present experience in the Moravian Church.

Rather than a tired call for ill-conceived “unity” among Christians who often can’t agree on a place to eat breakfast, much less find common ground among themselves in doctrine and theology, “Forged” references and calls our attention to cultivate relationships that already exist. Rather than just observing what a forged family looks like, Moore expounds on the idea. The early chapters in the book explain that the foundation for our relationships is always rooted in the Gospel of Christ. Moore describes a “collective culture of the kin(g)dom of God” and rather than finding ourselves craving this type of community, we find ourselves identifying with marks of it already present in our own local churches, our relationships with those outside our congregations and with those across the world who share our bond of being “Moravian forged family.”

Forged family subverts Empire. We read of Jesus’ radical ideas behind forging a new kind of family centered around his justice-driven mission and ministry. Brother T.C. calls us to remember that we are not a forged family made up of lazy, lethargic, negligent people. Rather, we are called to resist harmful relationships and institutional structures and instead, build up a community of passionate, faithful justice-centered disciples who bind ourselves not only to one another, but also to our Lord.

We read in the book of T.C.’s dysfunctional, biological family, and the echoes of financial hardship, neglect and unhealthy relationships with biological family members ring true in my own life as well. Though I never joined a street gang, my heart ached in reading T.C.’s story with a shared experience of children whose parents cannot love them properly. T.C. shifts effortlessly from describing his own personal experiences with forged family and sharing reflections and stories from the Scriptures of Jesus’ experiences. When T.C. describes his own baptism and the desire to share the love of God in his own heart with his mother, I felt the agony in his expression of care for the person who should have cared for him most, and yet could not.

Discussing realistic ways to deal with inevitable conflict in our forged family, T.C. resists the “toxic, traumatizing” type of conflict and, instead, leads us to a gentle, Spirit-filled discussion on how to love one another through conflict, not just in spite of it. He talks of conflict and confrontation being opportunities to grow in Christ and not just threats to divide our forged family. He speaks of reconciliation, repentance and relationships with practical, heartfelt advice and thoughts.

Weaving in personal stories and experiences with advice and practical wisdom, Forged takes us on a journey through the wilderness of loneliness into the hope of a bright future for Moravians and all believers in Christ when we work to strengthen and uphold our forged family. He prioritizes inclusion and diversity in this forged family, reminding us that we are all God’s beloved children together in this household. He speaks of grace and covenantal relationships, of discipleship and the “transitive property of love.”

I believe that Forged shows us a picture of the future of our Church: a renewing of the old ways of depending on one another through all aspects of life, of leaning into an uncertain future while knowing that the inevitable decline that comes to all denominations is not the end of our existence together. Moravians are, after all, the hidden seed protected throughout the centuries by faithful ones who remember the old ways. We are accustomed to working together in forged families, drawing from our traditions of active cultural lifestyles with one another. We need reminders to cultivate “space at our  tables for those who have been left out, cast aside and pushed around.” After all, T.C. says, “It often literally requires hosting a dinner and inviting people over. The kin(g)dom of God is a family in which  there is literally always room for more.”

May we always make space, create bonds and forge ahead together, a messy, rag-tag, chaotic little family who loves each other, loves our neighbors and our Savior, and looks forward to the day when our kin(g)dom table gets bigger and bigger! 

The Rev. Dana G. Myers is a Moravian pastor serving with Come and Worship Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Forged is now available from the IBOC at