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MORAVIANS

by Katie Tucker

 

    Hi, my name is Katie Tucker, and I go to Fairview Moravian Church. First, I want to share some background information with you about the Moravians.

    Moravians are a Protestant denomination church. It started in Moravia, which today is known as Czechoslovakia. We think John Hus was the first Moravian. John Amos Comenius is another important Moravian. He is also known as the Father of Education. He was the first person who suggested field trips in school to help kids learn more. Comenius also said that girls should have a good education. He wrote many books and also put pictures in schoolbooks to make it easier to learn.

    Count Zinzendorf is another important person in Moravian history. He was the one who came up with the idea for people to share a simple meal together in church. Today, we call this a Lovefeast. Count Zinzendorf invented the Lovefeast.

    The Moravians first came to America in 1735. Their first settlement was in Georgia, but it failed. In 1741, the Moravians moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and in 1753, they came to North Carolina. You can visit the original settlements right here at Bethabara, Bethania, and Salem.

    As a Moravian, my favorite season is Christmas. I like Christmas best because I like the Lovefeast and trimming candles. Another thing I like about the Christmas season is Advent. I would like to share with you some of the traditions that make a Moravian Christmas special to me.

    Advent is a four-week period of getting ready or Christmas. Advent is basically waiting for Jesus to be born. An Advent wreath is like a regular wreath like the one you hang on your front door made out of greenery, but instead, it lies on the communion table and it has candles. The wreath reminds that God always loves us. The wreath has four different candles, and each candle has a different meaning. The first candle represents preparing for Jesus’ birth. The second candle reminds us of Jesus’ coming. The third candle reminds us of sharing Jesus’ love with the world and the fourth candle is for the great joy now at hand

    Outside the church, there is a Moravian Star. I also hang a star on the front porch of my house. This star has many points. The star came from Niesky, moravain_star-splash_background.jpg (52583 bytes)Germany in 1850. It is a reminder of God’s creation, of the star that led the wisemen to the manger where Jesus was born, and of Jesus himself. It can also be called the "Advent Star," or the "Star of Bethlehem." The star stays up until Epiphany (January 6). The actual inventor of the star is unknown, but we do know that Pieter Verbeek learned how to make the stars in school, and later he started making them to sell. His son, Harry, started the star factory in Herrnhut and they were shipped all over the world. During World War II, Moravians right here in Winston-Salem started making the stars.

    My favorite part of Christmas is the Lovefeast. A Lovefeast is a special service when Moravians share a simple meal together in church. We have this service to xmaslove.jpg (517631 bytes) sugar cake and coffee, but at Christmas, we serve a lightly sweetened bun instead. It looks kind of like a hamburger bun with an "M" on top. The buns and coffee are served by men and women, called Dieners. The ladies where white dresses, stockings, shoes and an apron. They also wear a little lace cap on their heads. They bring in big baskets full of the buns and pass them down the pews. When they are finished, they come back in with the men, who are carrying heavy trays filled with coffee mugs.

    At the Christmas Lovefeast service, after you eat, you have a candle service. During this part, the children’s choir sings a special hymn called "Morning Star," and the Dieners come back in with trays full of candles. The candles are made of lovefeats_candlew-holder.jpg (84752 bytes)beeswax and have a red paper frill at the bottom. The lit candles are passed out to everyone in the church. These candles were first used in 1741, in Marienborn, Germany. The pastor, Johannes von Watteville gave the candles to the children. Today, the candles are given to everyone as a reminder that the flame of Jesus’ love will burn forever. These candles were used for the first time in a Christmas Eve service in America in 1756 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. They were used in North Carolina for the first time in 1762 for the children’s Lovefeasts at Bethabara and Bethania.

    I enjoy being a Moravian. I am very proud of the church history, customs and traditions. I have been happy to share some of these special things with you.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Moravians Long Ago and Today; Jane K. Hoover; Copyright 1993
Customs and Practices of the Moravian Church; Adelaide L. Fries; Revised editon 1973
Moravian Church Publications:
    Moravian Christmas
    The Moravian Church History, Faith and Ministry