District Developments February 2019

 “I Was in Prison and You Came to Me…”

At the 2016 Synod of the Eastern District of the Moravian Church, Northern Province, criminal justice reform was identified as an area of engagement for our churches and communities.  Following Jesus’s commandment to see the presence of God in the prisoner (Matthew 25:34-36), Moravians were encouraged to engage in the needs of those in prison: in questions of justice, dehumanization, and the needs for reform.   

Prisons are often difficult and daunting places to visit, and the ED Church and Society Ministry Team asked themselves how we could engage in “visiting the prisoner.”  We identified an engagement with art as a transformative way to see the humanity of the incarcerated and be engaged in the needs for reforms that their art and stories can raise.   

Art for Justice (, a local non-profit, made an ideal partner to accomplish these goals as they are committed to:

  • Promote public dialog on ways to prevent crime 
  • Reduce levels of incarceration
  • Find effective, humane ways to improve the criminal justice system.

We are also proud to partner with our host ArtsQuest’s Banana Factory, a nonprofit committed to providing access to art, culture and educational programs in our community.   

From March 1 – April 7, the Banana Factory (at 25 W. 3rd St., Bethlehem, open Mondays – Fridays 8:00am-9:30pm, and Saturdays & Sundays 8:30am-7:00pm) will host an exhibit called Hope in Hard Times:  Prisoners’ Art for Social Justice. This exhibit will be complemented by the following special openings and events: 

March 1 and April 5, 6 – 9 p.m. First Fridays at the Banana Factory. Special speakers, projects, and engagements.

March 19, 7 p.m., Lecture at Moravian College’s Prosser Auditorium. Speaker: Tyrone Werts, Soros Fellow, PA Lifer commuted by Gov. Rendell. We encourage you to register for this free event at the following site:

March 24, 2 – 4 p.m., Vigil for Hope in the Criminal Justice System at the Banana Factory. Our keynote speaker, Chester Hollman, Jr. tells the story of his son Chester Hollman III’s wrongful conviction and sentence of life without parole in PA.      

We hope that you will visit this exhibit “Hope in Hard Times” to learn more about the current situation of the prison system, advocacy issues, and areas of criminal justice reform. We also hope that you will take a moment to look through the artwork at to learn more.     

As one of the artists Daniel Gwynn writes, “Painting has enriched my life – I’ve been blessed to able to use my art to work through my pains and accomplish great things to help others. Where I once thought that all hope was lost, I’ve been able to open my heart to a variety of good people who had the courage and compassion to take a chance on me. I don’t believe I could have survived this situation on my own. I am so grateful for my friends, my surrogate family. They have embraced me and supported my fight for justice.” 

(Thank you to Rev. Janel Rice, Pastor of Calvary Moravian Church and member of the Church in Society Ministry Team for her contribution of this article).

 that the work in some of the areas of Eastern NC after hurricane Matthew and Florence continues? Rev. Chris Thore, of Clemmons Moravian Church, has informed us that “After a much-needed rest, our partners in Lumberton, NC (United Methodist Church disaster relief) report that they have just started working on the “Step Program” which is 75% funded through FEMA and 25% funded through the State. We get a pre-approved list from FEMA that gives us the survivors that are eligible for this program. This program allows you to go in and do the muck out (tear out) and you only fix the home enough to get the survivor back in and living. You can only do a few things to make this happen and its really complicated, at first. You can only put in a sink held up by a piece of wood to keep it in place, you only have a door on the bathroom, no walls are done, no floors are done except to make sure the sub flooring is in place.”

So, what this means is that new work will be different than what we have typically done in the past; however, volunteer labor is still needed. This funding from FEMA is for materials only.          

We have been told there are over 1600 approved survivors in Robeson County alone out of approximately 7000 total homes affected by Florence in Robeson County. That number is just mind boggling!  Hopefully this gives you some insight as to what is going on in that area. We hope to have start dates for the next teams soon. Please contact Chris Giesler, Director of Mission Engagement for the Board of World Mission, if you would like more information about joining or forming a team. [email protected] 

Crossroads Lay Leadership will be holding an Info Session about our program on Saturday, Feb 9 at 10 am. Those interested in learning more about our courses can either come to Moravian Seminary, Bethlehem PA or attend this session online through Zoom from anywhere.  To participate through Zoom, please contact Jill Peters ([email protected]) at least 24 hours before to get the Zoom log on info.  You will need a computer/laptop or smartphone, mike, camera and a quiet place.  Log on time is 9:50 am.  Hope to see you in person or onscreen!

Crossroads Lay Leadership program at Moravian Seminary is running our Unpacking the Scriptures: Preaching course with the Rev. Dr. Sue Pizor Yoder for eight weeks starting March 11.  Learn about constructing a sermon, how to speak to different generations, and polish your public speaking skills.  Sue is a gifted pastor, preacher and teacher. Also starting in early March on the 7th is Traveling Mercies with the Rev. Maggie Wellert.  This is a congregational care course with Maggie and several other speakers who address issues of communication skills, addictions, teens, spirituality and caring for those at the end of life.  Great course for church teams.  For exact dates, details and registration go to: 

or contact Jill Peters at:  [email protected]

Saturday, February 9 – Camp Hope Season Kick-Off Dinner.  East Hills Moravian Church.  For ticket information see:

May 3-5, 2019, Confirmation Retreat at Camp Hope. To find out more about these events please visit:

Winter Wisdom Weekend March 1-3, 2019: Prepare your spirit, mind and body for the upcoming Lenten Journey! Together we will explore the ancient Wisdom practices that seek to harmonize our three centers of knowing: heart, mind, and movement. The retreat will offer a gentle rhythm of ora et labora (prayer and work), including centering prayer, chanting, body prayer for all abilities and performing light work with intention. Our hope is to bless you with new and renewed wisdom practices that can be incorporated into your daily walk. 

Cost: $110 ($50 deposit), Adults 18 and up. Check-in Friday evening, 7-8 p.m. Check-out Sunday at noon (Sunday brunch provided). Limited to 24 people. To register please contact Hope Conference Center at: or call 908-459-4435. Facilitators: The Rev. Laura Gordon, pastor of Palmyra Moravian Church; The Rev. Cynthia Rader Geyer, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Eastern District, Moravian Church; Linda Toggart, Spiritual Director, member of College Hill Moravian Church.

Workshop Schedule & Sites:



Washington, DC





Valley North





Lehigh Valley South




Penn Mar




Delaware Valley








Metro NYC

John Hus



Staten Island

Castleton Hill



Participants in this workshop will explore the biblical basis for serving others; hear from churches that have conducted successful “Be the Church” days; learn the basics of Mission Insite for understanding the community around the local congregation; and receive guidelines for conducting your own “Be the Church” day! Please see District Developments January 2019 Issue for full details of the workshop.  Questions? Call or email: Marie Couts- [email protected] Cell: 330.401.1212.

“Unleash Your Power!” 2019 Moravian Women’s Conference

 “Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

June 20-23, 2019- Embassy Suites 425 North Cherry Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101-Presented by The Inter-provincial Women’s Board Moravian Church in North America.

Keynote Speakers: Best Selling Author Rachel Held Evans, The Rt. Rev. Kay Ward, The Rev. Dr. Heather Vacek, The Rev. Christie Melby-Gibbons.

For more information or to register:

Preview Day with Beth Hayes, Resource Director, Moravian Church, Southern Province and Marie Couts, Director of Christian Education, Moravian Church, Eastern District

Event to be held at College Hill Moravian Church, February 16, 2019 9:00 a.m. – 12 noon

  • Learn the history of VBS
  • Hear tips for selecting appropriate VBS material for your church
  • Hear specific focus of each VBS curriculum and have opportunity to review curriculum
  • Receive details for planning a one or two-day intergenerational VBS

No charge, but please register your attendance by contacting: Marie Couts – [email protected] or cell: 330.401.1212

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