Stars “lighting the way” for Moravian girls and women

Nearly 200 green and purple stars from Herrnhut Star Factory in Herrnhut, Germany, traveled about 4500 miles distance and arrived in Winston-Salem in 2023.

The stars, donated by Herrnhut Star Factory to the Unity Women’s Desk (UWD), were assembled by volunteers during a two month’s long assembly, carried by “star walkers” through Salem from Home Moravian Church to the Old Salem Museums & Gardens Visitor Center in Winston-Salem, and were displayed in the tall windows of the center during October.

Posters that included tributes and bios in honor or in memory of women who shared hope or worked for justice in their homes, churches, communities and the worldwide Moravian Church were displayed with the stars. Tributes to Elizabeth Marx, who influenced the lives of thousands of students at Colego Morava in Bluefields, Nicaragua, to Virginia “Pete” Crater, the heart and soul of the Chicken Pie group at Fries Memorial Moravian Church, and to Joyce Carter, “shelter paraclete” who “through her gift for guiding others led throngs of people to love boldly and reach out to the disenfranchised children of God” were included in the nearly 200 bios and tributes that lined the windows of the Old Salem Visitor Center in October.

Donations from individuals, organizations, groups and churches for the stars help to provide support for women through scholarships for education, access to food, healthcare, economic security, human rights and leadership in families, churches and communities all over the world.

Now these stars have been dispersed, and they hang in churches, homes and offices, most in the Southern Province in North America. Light shines through the green and purple paper points, honoring and remembering a constellation of women and lending support, inspiration and hope to women in 27 provinces, mission provinces and mission areas.

The “Lighting the Way for Moravian Girls & Women” fundraiser-celebration of the Unity Women’s Desk of the Moravian Church celebrated women with these stars that have been the colors of the International Women’s Day Movement since the early 1900s: green symbolizing hope and purple symbolizing justice.

UWD, officially established in 2011 by Unity Synod works to empower Moravian women for global change and works for gender justice and human rights for women.

Three UWD scholarship recipients — Dorcas Wood, Jheanelle Harvey and EmmaGrace Stevenson—spent several days before the October reception and celebration dinner in Winston-Salem, helping to hang the stars in the Visitor Center, speaking at mission moments in worship at Winston-Salem congregations, meeting with church groups and circles, participating in a Salem Walk, meeting with Estamos Unidos, working at Sunnyside ministries and speaking at the “Lighting the Way” dinner to share experiences and hopes made possible by the UWD scholarship support.

Dorcas Wood, a nursing student from Trujillo, Colon, Honduras (pictured at far right) said that she hopes to use her nursing degree to help women and girls in rural Honduras. She volunteered for the UWD as interpreter during the 2021 Latin America/Caribbean Moravian Women’s Conference and the 2022 Spanish-Speaking Connections Conference in Panama and helped women in Honduras with digital connections and with completing online applications.

Jheanelle Harvey, from Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, earned a degree in electrical engineering and computing in October 2023 and helps other women with language and computer skills.

EmmaGrace Stevenson is a senior at Brevard College in western North Carolina studying Wilderness Leadership & Experiential Education. EmmaGrace will use her knowledge and skill to help others appreciate and care for God’s world.

For Dorcas Wood, Jheanelle Harvey, EmmaGrace Stevenson and more than 200 other young women, the Unity Women’s Desk scholarships have been bridges and connectors to prepare for their own careers but also to help others, both those in their provinces and for the global ministry of the Unity Women’s Desk.

Safie Braima, who administers two Moravian secondary schools in Sierra Leone, also spoke at the “Lighting the Way” dinner. Each year since 2014, UWD has provided scholarships at the schools that Safie administers in Sierra Leone. In 2023 UWD is supporting 17 secondary school students as well as five college/university students. The Unity Women’s Desk is a ministry of the worldwide Moravian Church. Its purpose is to positively impact the lives of women and girls by coordinating the spiritual, financial, educational, and material resources that exist throughout the Moravian Unity. Julie Tomberlin, PhD. is the coordinator for Unity Women’s Desk and the only full time staff. Jean Richardson of Dover, Ohio, serves part time as treasurer, and Liz Venable of Winston-Salem volunteers as secretary. Dozens of volunteers and hundreds of donors worked to make the Lighting the Stars Campaign a great success, supporting the continued ministry of the Unity Women’s Desk.

Kay Windsor is a member of New Philadelphia Moravian Church in Winston-Salem and volunteered for the Unity Women’s Desk “Lighting the Way” celebration.