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Coffee with Moravian Ancestors: Introduction

BCM Spotlight BannerBY WILLIAM NEEDS |

Note: This is part of a multi-month blog series, “Coffee with Moravian Ancestors.” Bill will sit down with important figures in the Moravian church to have a cup of (Moravian) coffee, asking questions about his or her life and how they have impacted the church! Look for Bill’s other blog posts here. To accompany his blog posts, he has drawn the images from his trip to Europe on the Roots of the Moravian Church Tour. For more art, visit Bill’s website at BillNeeds.com.

I begin this year by stepping into the 21st Century.  I’m preparing a blog- actually a series of blogs – on a subject that had haunted me for years: “What happened between Hus and Zinzendorf?”.

I’m really not a historian and never particularly devoted to religious endeavors.  But I find advancing age ignites occasional nostalgia for times past when discourse was simpler and gentler; a sentiment based upon having been raised in a small midwestern community where rhythms of tradition, family and religion (for me, the Moravian Church), influenced everyday living.   

 

Photo via Unsplash.

 
Living in a community with no Moravian Church, I became curious about how little I knew about the church of my youth. I recall Sunday morning church rituals: reading the liturgy (boring to a pre-adolescent) or “page 11 litany” aloud; wandering between alto and bass as I attempted to harmonize in beautiful hymns;  sharing unique (candlelight and lovefeast) celebrations.  I squirmed a bit when asked, “what really is a Moravian?” Looking back, it appears many adult decisions were shaped by values and beliefs from this unique community.
 
I don’t know when I began to harbor a romantic desire to someday go to Europe to learn more about the church of my youth.  That opportunity arrived when Moravian Theological Seminary advertised a tour titled Roots of the Moravian Church.
 
That tour was memorable, not only for the content of the material presented but also for the spiritual plate upon which it was served.  It inspired me to sketch scenes (a talent discovered after retirement) which reflected what we saw or were told. The tour answered many questions, but provoked other questions: “How did this little group of men, each at his moment in history,  act (or react) to the notion that God had chosen him to change the direction of His church, and thus fulfill a message of hope, love, and redemption?” That question prompted more research. 
 
Now I squirm again.  Near the end of my research and art renderings, I’ve decided to share my findings in a series of “Spotlight Blogs” through BCM. Rather than composing a boring travelogue or historical lecture, however, let me test my imagination (and yours too).  Imagine sitting down to share a cup of coffee and conversation with some ancient leaders who responded to that unique calling to establish and develop a new church to be called the Unitas Fratrum. 
 

Charles Bridge entering Old Town Prague. Drawing by Bill Needs, visit BillNeeds.com for more!

 
Framing this conversation as a “love feast” of sorts, I hope my blogs will offer imaginative encounters with these people, their times, their thoughts and experiences in a way that might stimulate you, the reader.  You may find some historical inaccuracies.  If so, please indulge me in this exercise,  or accept it as “artistic license”, or correct me if you wish. Will you join me over the next few months?  Pour a cup of coffee, make yourself comfortable, and join me in a very personal “love feast”. 
 
We will start our conversations with church founders by coffee with  Jan Hus in Prague, the Czech Republic (then known as “Bohemia”).  Stay tuned.
 
Note: This is the start of a multi-month blog series “Coffee with Moravian Ancestors”. Bill will sit down with important figures in the Moravian church to have a cup of (Moravian) coffee and ask questions about his or her life and how they have impacted the church! Look for Bill’s first coffee meeting with Jan Hus on February 8th. To accompany his blog posts, he has drawn the images from his trip to Europe on the Roots of the Moravian Church Tour. For more art, visit Bill’s website at BillNeeds.com.
 

About the Author

Photo courtesy of Bill Needs.

Raised in the Moravian Church in Dover Ohio, Bill graduated from Moravian College in 1962. A drop-out of Moravian Theological Seminary, Bill now lives with his wife, Sara in Marietta, Georgia. Bill’s career served disabled individuals and employers in providing realistic vocational choices as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. After retirement in 2004, Bill discovered he had a previously unknown artistic talent for drawing.  Now, when Bill and Sara travel, he supplements his photography record with art inspired by the scenes and experiences. For more art, visit Bill’s website at BillNeeds.com. For discussion about art or blog content, email [email protected].


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