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Write Your Own Spiritual Autobiography

Moravians have traditionally kept meticulous records—of the weather, of the environment around them, of meetings, of events in the life of a community or congregation. We also ought to examine our own spiritual growth, our paths, by writing and reflecting on them. It’s a way to turn our hearts outward, to offer a legacy to family and community, to make the “invisible church visible.”

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, each member of the Moravian church was to write out a brief spiritual autobiography, called a lebenslauf, some time in midlife. When that person passed away, the pastor finished this sketch, and read it at the person’s funeral, or at a lovefeast held shortly thereafter in their memory. This practice continues in many Moravian congregations, though now in most cases the pastor writes this sketch, and after reading it at the person’s funeral, sends it to the church archives. Many of these lebenslauf can be found in the various archives of the worldwide Moravian Unity. In our Moravian Archives in the Southern Province, more than 14,000 memoirs of Moravians from 1753 to present are stored, including a number of lebenslauf written by church members.

A 4-Part Learning Series

Explore and experience the Moravian tradition of writing a lebenslauf in four sessions. Moravians wrote the story of their own journey with God often around mid-life.  You do not need to consider yourself a writer to experience this workshop, and you may find reflecting on how God has worked in your life a thoughtful spiritual practice.  This series might also be experienced in a small group setting.

These sessions are led by Kay Windsor, a member of New Philadelphia Moravian Church, a writer, a writing group leader, and a retired teacher. She leads writing sessions for Trellis Supportive Care, a local hospice, her church, and community groups. Her writing is included in Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers.

  • Your Spiritual Autobiography: Session 1

  • Your Spiritual Autobiography: Session 2

  • Your Spiritual Autobiography: Session 3

  • Your Spiritual Autobiography: Session 4


Other Resources

  • A Lebenslauf History (PDF)
  • The Moravian Memoirs Project (website)
  • The Moravian Archives – Bethlehem, PA (website)