Engagement Mission Awards News

2023 Herrnhut Congregational Affirmation

At a special worship service on Sunday, January 28th, 2024 at Trinity Moravian Church in Winston Salem, North Carolina, the Board of World Mission presented the Trinity congregation with the 2023 Herrnhut Congregational Affirmation.

In 2019, the Board of World Mission voted to recognize congregations in North America who were doing exemplary mission and service work both in their local communities as well as in global mission efforts.  After discussion among board members, it was decided to name this the Herrnhut Congregational Affirmation for Dedicated Mission and Service.  Why Herrnhut, you might ask? Many of you already know the answer.

In 1731 the small Moravian community in Herrnhut, Germany, was introduced to Anthony Ulrich, a man of African descent who was the slave of a Danish nobleman.  Anthony told the community about the conditions under which several of his family members lived as sugar plantation slaves on the island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. On that day, hearts were stirred to action, and within a year, Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann were on the ground in St. Thomas, seeking to be the light of Christ to the enslaved persons on that island.

Within ten years of that event, the Herrnhut community had sent missionaries to Greenland, Lapland, Georgia (US), Guinea Coast (Africa), South Africa, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Dutch Guiana (now Surinam), Algiers (Africa), St. Croix (Virgin Islands), Pennsylvania and New York (US).  Those who were actively serving on mission fields were supported by the prayers and encouragement of the community back home and by the financial support received from the industries set up to raise funds for this endeavor.  This is a remarkable story of Christian compassion and determination to see that the oppressed would know of God’s love for them.

The Herrnhut Congregational Affirmation for Dedicated Mission and Service goes to a Moravian Congregation in either the Northern, or Southern Province that is in some way following the example of the Moravian community in Herrnhut by actively giving of themselves in terms of time, talent, and treasure to be the light of Christ to others. We are thrilled to name Trinity Moravian Church as the second recipient of this affirmation.

Here are just a few of the ways Trinity Moravian Church is involved in mission:

  • We can certainly begin with Trinity‘s leadership in the Medical Debt relief partnership with RIP Medical Debt that has enabled well over a thousand families to escape the prison of medical debt. Their work has inspired people like Casey McIntire and her husband Gregory to raise over $700,000 in Casey’s final months of fighting ovarian cancer. This effort forgave over $70 million dollars of debt in New York City. They heard about the good work of the Trinity congregation and wanted to follow that example. And they inspired Moravians from across North America to surpass the stated goal of raising $50,000 in 50 days to raising over $102,000.  This provided the Moravian Clinic in Ahuas, Honduras with $25,000 that they would have never received for the ministry they provide. It also forgave over 10 million dollars of medical debt in the states of Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. The good work of Trinity Moravian Church inspired all of that and more.

  • Trinity was instrumental in the organization of Sunnyside Ministry and continues to be a key part of this dynamic ministry as it has long outgrown the little house across the parking lot from the church.

  • Trinity has also been instrumental in the formation of the Anthony’s Plot ministry housed right next door in their parsonage. This ministry, by the way, was named after the Anthony who inspired that first Moravian Mission to St. Thomas.

  • Trinity is actively involved in the City With Dwellings organization providing meals and safe shelter to Winston-Salem’s homeless population.

  • Trinity gives children a place to learn, grow, and experience Christian community each Wednesday evening with the Logos Program.

As recorded in the latter half of Matthew’s 25th chapter, Jesus teaches that when you do this for the least of these, you do it also unto me. With deep appreciation for the ministry of the Trinity congregation, and with gratitude for all of the ways they are meeting the basic needs of the “least of these” in their community and beyond, the Board of World Mission is honored to present Trinity Moravian Church with the 2023 Herrnhut Congregational Affirmation.

The service was livestreamed on Trinity Moravian Church’s Facebook page and can be found at the following link: https://fb.watch/qoFCS8yZZy/. Rev. John Jackman begins speaking about the Debt Jubilee Project at the 34:00 mark, and the Herrnhut Award presentation begins at 41:45.

A wise person once wrote: At the end of life, what matters most is not what we’ve bought, but what we built. Not what we got, but what we shared. Not our competence, but our character. Not our success, but our significance.