Herman Melville - Diarmaid MacCulloch TV - Moravian Church in North America online -
Are there no Moravians in the Moon, that not a missionary has yet visited this poor pagan planet of ours, to civilise civilisation and Christianise Christendom? Herman Melville, White-Jacket 1850
The Moravian Brethren: They had been persecuted by Catholics in their homeland, the modern-day Czech Republic, so they fled two hundred and fifty miles west to safe Protestant Saxony. Once here a Lutheran nobleman, Count Zinzendorf, headstrong, charismatic, rich, offered them his land and leadership for a new community ... Eternal salvation through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ ... It was an idea that would revolutionise Protestantism ... In Germany today they are famous for their Christian stars. Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, A History of Christianity, BBC 2009
For over five centuries the Moravian Church has proclaimed the gospel in all parts of the world. Its influence has far exceeded its numbers as it has cooperated with Christians on every continent and has been a visible part of the Body of Christ, the Church. Proud of its heritage and firm in its faith, the Moravian Church ministers to the needs of people wherever they are. The name Moravian identifies the fact that this historic church had its origin in ancient Bohemia and Moravia in what is the present-day Czech Republic. In the mid-ninth century these countries converted to Christianity chiefly through the influence of two Greek Orthodox missionaries, Cyril and Methodius. They translated the Bible into the common language and introduced a national church ritual. In the centuries that followed, Bohemia and Moravia gradually fell under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Rome, but some of the Czech people protested.
The foremost of Czech reformers, John Hus (1369-1415) was a professor of philosophy and rector of the University in Prague. The Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, where Hus preached, became a rallying place for the Czech reformation. Gaining support from students and the common people, he led a protest movement against many practices of the Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy. Hus was accused of heresy, underwent a long trial at the Council of Constance, and was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415.
The reformation spirit did not die with Hus. The Moravian Church, or Unitas Fratrum (Unity of Brethren), as it has been officially known since 1457, arose as followers of Hus gathered in the village of Kunvald, about 100 miles east of Prague, in eastern Bohemia, and organized the church. This was 60 years before Martin Luther began his reformation and 100 years before the establishment of the Anglican Church.
According to Gregory the Patriarch, considered the founder of Unitas Fratrum, what made a Christian was not doctrine or what he or she believed, but that a person lived his or her life according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. He described these first Moravians as ‘people who have decided once and for all to be guided only by the gospel and example of our Lord Jesus Christ and his holy apostles in gentleness, humility, patience, and love for our enemies.’ (Rican, History of the Unity)
By 1467 the Moravian Church had established its own ministry, and in the years that followed three orders of the ministry were defined: deacon, presbyter and bishop. Moravian Church in North America online