A deep commitment to world mission has characterized the Moravian Church since its earliest days. A small 300-member Moravian community in Herrnhut, Germany sent missionaries to the Danish West Indies in 1732. Since then, God’s call to proclaim the good news of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ has taken hundreds of Moravian missionaries from the mountaintops of Ladakh, India to the savannas of La Mosquitia, Honduras. Today, Moravian churches or societies worship and minister in about forty nations and number over 700,000 believers.
The Board of World Mission (BWM) is the overseas mission sending and support agency of the Moravian Church in America. It continues the work begun in 1745 by the Society for Propagating the Gospel, North America’s oldest Protestant mission society. Founded in 1949, BWM acts on behalf of the Northern Province, Southern Province, and Alaskan Province of the Moravian Church and its affiliate Unity of the Brethren.
A representative Board of Directors oversees the work of the Board of World Mission, which is also accountable to the synods of the Moravian Church in America. Meeting biannually, the directors determine BWM’s goals, policies, and areas of mission involvement and appoint all staff and overseas personnel.
The Board of World Mission has two offices. The office of the Executive Director is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Winston-Salem, North Carolina is home to the office of the Director of Intercultural Ministries and Communication and the Director of Moravian Volunteer Resources.
BWM nurtures historic and vital partnerships with Moravian Churches in Alaska, Costa Rica, Eastern West Indies, Guyana, Honduras, Labrador, Nicaragua, and Tanzania.
In addition, the Board of World Mission is supportive of cross-cultural outreach of Moravian partners in Belize, Burundi, Cuba, Honduras (Garifuna), Haiti, Kenya, Peru, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.
The Moravian Church in America is a member of the National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA, and the World Council of Churches. The Board of World Mission currently is working in active partnership with Church World Service and Witness (CWSW), Action by Churches Together (ACT), and the Reformed Church in America.
The content and purpose of the mission of the Board of World Mission is best expressed in words taken from the Ground of the Unity, the doctrinal statement of the Moravian Church:
The Lord Jesus Christ calls His Church into being so that it may serve Him on earth until he comes. The Unitas Fratrum (Moravian Church) is, therefore, aware of its being called in faith to serve humanity by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It recognizes this call to be the source of its being and the inspiration of its service. As is the source, so is the aim and end of its being based upon the will of its Lord.
The BWM is about the work of God in the world through serving and sending God’s people to bring others to know and follow Christ. We disciple people in mission by walking with individuals, churches, and global partners so that together we may provide opportunities for people to be God’s instruments of grace, peace and justice in the world.
We serve as the mission arm of the North American Moravian Church, representing the Northern, Southern Provinces, as well as the Alaska Province. The Moravian Church has historically been a church dedicated to bringing people to our Lord and to sharing Christ’s love and Word throughout the world, and the call to our church today is no different, even though how we do that may be very different. Through our mission the church participates in God’s action within the world.
As declared in John 20:21, we are sent as Jesus was sent. Our lives are modeled on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, who crossed political boundaries, reached out in compassion, challenged the status quo, shared the good news and brought transformative life and grace to all he met. In Christ we are bringers of this life to others, both locally and globally. This is the mission to which we are called.
We carry out this call in a variety of ways:
- We are sending people in mission through Antioch, which provides opportunities for North Americans to share their gifts in service as they broaden their own understanding of the issues that face our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
- We are serving people through our Moravian Volunteer Response—continuing to provide disaster relief, as well as work crews for specific projects.
- We are working with our Partner Provinces to promote leadership development and sustainable churches that continue to share the gospel to the unreached.
- We are exploring areas of New Work within the worldwide Moravian Unity, with a focus on outreach in Sierra Leone, Cuba, and Peru.
Core principles of our mission engagement include building mutual relationships that promote transparency and effective communication; equipping others in discipleship, leadership development, and principles of favored practices in mission involvement; and being good stewards of the resources provided for this work. In all of this we are centered on Christ, who loves us, calls us, and transforms us to be his agents of love and grace in the world.