Email Tips: CC, BCC, and Reply All

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Emailing is simple enough, but there is a lot about this great service that can seem to fall by the wayside, as its professional potential is sometimes taken for granted.

Most noticeably, some email users often ignore using CC, BCC, and “reply all” functionality with email. That or users don’t understand their purpose. It is generally frowned upon to regularly send out emails with long CC or BCC lists… especially for regular newsletters or other related mass-marketing/contact purposes. If you send an email out through Outlook or Gmail with a massive list of recipients in the “to” or CC line, the recipient will have to scroll down the massive list before they reach the content of the email.

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Using An Online Email Marketing Service

To send out your regularly published church newsletter, use an online service. The Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) utilizes iContact for its weekly e-newsletter needs. BCM also puts iContact to use for sending out bulletin inserts and other content or notices. The service, which is free to qualifying NC-based non-profits, includes easy-to-use “drag and drop” design templates. There are plenty of other services, paid and unpaid… Mail Chimp and Constant Contact being two of the most recognizable brands. As Church Marketing Sucks points out, Mail Chimp’s service is free to use if you send under five thousand emails per month.

What are CC and BCC?

CC, BCC stand for carbon copy and blind carbon copy, respectively. The terms carry over from their use in letters prior to computers and email. Quora user Andrew Hennigan, who teaches workshops on email, writes, “[BCC] comes from the time when letters were written on a typewriter and extra copies were made using carbon paper. You would put in the typewriter one sheet of paper for each person with sheets of carbon paper between them. In the original sense it meant a person who was to receive a carbon copy of a letter but without being visible in the distribution list.”

Diffen defines each of the address lines of an email as such:

  • To: field recipients are the audience of the message
  • CC: field recipients are others whom the author wishes to publicly inform of the message (carbon copy)
  • BCC: field recipients are those who being discreetly or surreptitiously informed of the communication and cannot be seen by any of the other addressees

When composing an email, the “to” line is reserved for the individuals the message is directed towards. Those in this line can see who sent the email, who all else is in the “to” line, and who all received a carbon copy. The CC line is for those for whom the message is relevant but not directed at or addressed to. Anyone in the CC line can see who the sender is, who is in the “to” line, and who else received a carbon copy.

The BCC line is for those whom the sender wants to have a copy of the message, but without the individual(s) the message is intended for, or those in the CC line knowing about these recipients. Those in the BCC line can see who the sender is, who is in the “to” line, who is in the CC line, but cannot see who all else received a blind carbon copy. The only individual who can see who received a blind carbon copy is the sender. This can be double-checked by the sender by viewing the sent message in the outbox.

“Reply All” and Privacy

“Reply all” is pretty straightforward, however it needs to be clear, especially as to how it pertains to BCC within emails. When you receive an email, you can respond just to the sender (“reply”) or you can respond to the sender and all of the other recipients of the message (“reply all”). If your response is relevant to all recipients, always reply to all, if your email address is included in the “to” or CC fields.

BCC recipients will not receive any replies to the original email as outlined by University of Pittsburgh’s Information Technology. However, a BCC recipient can reveal their presence to other recipients should they reply all, rather than just replying to the original sender.

Dave Johnson writes for CBS News’ Money Watch that blind carbon copy recipients should always take the designation seriously and should “never violate the trust… never, ever reply-all to a message for which you are in the BCC line.” If you’re worried about this, Johnson suggests it is best to just send the message separately to the would-be BCC recipient, especially if the subject concerns bad news. Lastly, how do you tell if you’re a BCC recipient? If your email address is not in the “to” or CC line, you have been blind carbon copied.

Email may seem outdated in the social media era, but while it is still used in professional settings, it helps to know as much as you can about how to use it effectively. Knowing basic functionalities like CC, BCC, and “reply all” is good place to start.

Sources 

“Bcc vs Cc.” Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 26 Jun 2016.

Hendricks, Kevin D. “Church Email Marketing Tips.” Church Marketing Sucks. Center for Church     Communication, 27 May 2015. Web. 27 June 2016.

Johnnson, Dave. “4 Things You Need to Know about Email’s BCC Field.”CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 30 Mar. 2012. Web. 27 June 2016.

“Using the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) Feature to Protect the Privacy of Email Addresses.” Information Technology. University of Pittsburgh, n.d. Web. 27 June 2016.

“What Are CC and BCC in Gmail? How Do I Use Them?” Quora. Quora, n.d. Web. 27 June 2016.

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Questions? Or need assistance with your church’s communications and social media efforts? Contact Andrew David Cox at acox(AT)mcsp.org or call (336) 722-8126 Ext. 404

Andrew David Cox is the Communications Project Manager for the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM)

 

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Living Faith Small Group Ministry: Part Four

This is 4th post in our series about Living Faith, a model of congregational life being designed by the Board of Cooperative Ministries of the Moravian Church, Southern Province. You can read the first post (click here)second post (click here), and third post (click here) at the preceding links. I’ve been writing about the need we have in our churches for a more focused approach to spiritual growth. Much of this has centered on the key components that make Living Faith an effective model to generate spiritual growth in the people of our churches. I hope you have found this interesting. We’ve gotten some response from some readers, and we would like to hear from a lot more. Your feedback and questions are welcome.

In my last post, I promised that I would write this time about the final key component that makes Living Faith succeed as a model of church life. I also wrote that this final component is the hardest for us to embrace, so here it goes.

In my last post I referred to Luke 10 as a good example of how Jesus worked with his disciples and how they are guided toward spiritual maturity and trained for outreach. When the time came, they didn’t go out as a single group. They divided into groups of two.

A similar thing happened in Acts 8. However, this time it was forced on them by persecution. In Luke 10 the disciples were ‘scattered’ by Jesus’ direction. In Acts 8 they were scattered by necessity following the death of Stephen. No doubt they mourned Stephen’s death and mourned the loss of fellowship they had with each other. But the rest of Acts 8 gives an example of the benefit of this forced dispersal. Phillip goes to Samaria and shares his faith there. Soon he finds himself in a remote area where he encounters the man from Ethiopia and shares his faith with him. And he is just one of those who left Jerusalem to escape persecution. Lots of others did the same thing.

It would have been nice to stay as one joyful, thriving community in Jerusalem; and they might have if given the choice. But the plan was to “go to all the world.” The persecution made clear that the time to start this had arrived. The cocoon phase of the church had ended.

When we discover a community, large or small, which nurtures us, we cling to it. Groups have formed and provided such blessing that they lasted for years. Often this is wonderful for a while. Then it stops being wonderful and begins to become inward. The members of the group find the group loving and accepting, and they sometimes wonder why others don’t join. They don’t see the barrier than has developed naturally around the group. Sometimes they begin to find it less beneficial even for themselves as the dynamics change.

Living Faith seeks to avoid this hardening of the wall around the group by periodically birthing new groups. When a group is begun, members are asked to agree to a covenant. A part of that covenant is to be open to the possibility of birthing a new group or helping to birth a new group after several months. This time period varies depending on the dynamics of the group. Not everyone will agree or be able to help birth a new group, but each group member is asked to consider doing so.

Those who have been part of close knit groups will recognize how hard it would be to depart from the blessings of such a group. You look around the circle of dear friends who have shared so much together, and its hard to imagine losing that. But that’s the way the church thrives, and that’s the way the church avoids stagnation and decline. Often when the church has plateaued or become corrupt or has become identified with empty ritual, some type of upheaval was needed to clear the way for fresh life. That’s true in congregations, in small fellowships, and in denominations. Birthing new groups helps to provide this renewal that prevents stagnation.

Moravians of the Renewed Church were regularly changing residence to other parts of the world, and we admire them for that. If we feel that way about the way they followed Christ, why do we find change in our own church routines so difficult?

One of the richest Moravian practices of the 18th century was the prayer bands–small groups that met frequently to encourage each other in their spiritual journeys. They became transformative and invaluable to the vitality of the Moravian Church. And members of these bands were sometimes shuffled or re-organized to make them more effective.

There is a lot of detail about how this works in Living Faith that I’m not including here. But birthing new groups is vital to the effectiveness of Living Faith and to the vitality of our churches.

A popular dish in coastal North Carolina is the blue crab. It’s especially sought after when it’s a soft shell blue crab. The fisherman (sometimes woman) catches the crab in a pot (more like a cage than a cooking pot) and watches for the crabs that are ready to moult (sometimes spelled molt). These crabs, called peelers, have grown and no longer fit comfortably in their shells. The peelers are set aside in a tank with flowing salt water. When the crab sheds its shell, it is chilled and sent to market before the new shell hardens. These softshell crabs are a delicacy. If the crab lives, it develops a new, slightly larger shell so it can grow larger.

This moulting is necessary to allow the crab to keep growing. If it didn’t do this, it could not thrive. As important as our groups are where we find fellowship, maybe they, too, need a transformative cycle built into their routine.

Questions? Or want to learn more about Living Faith? Contact Tim Byerly at tlbyerly1971(AT)gmail.com.

The Rev. Tim Byerly is the Special Project Manager for Living Faith Small Group Ministry under the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM)

Tim Byerly

Is Your Life a Maze or a Labyrinth?

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Is your life more like a maze or a labyrinth?

Life as a maze finds you off the path feeling that success is not assured or that it comes only with luck and struggle. You see many decisions and events as dead ends, time wasted, money lost, opportunities missed.13445375_10153729745910875_3685864417383558769_n

To live life as a labyrinth, you reevaluate your identity and apply a new context to your life. All paths are part of God’s path where despite your appearances and differences, you all will meet.  A maze contains multiple paths and directions; a labyrinth finds us on a single path leading to the center.

A labyrinth is an ancient design used for hundreds of years within the Christian tradition. The church began to create places, like the labyrinth, to represent a spiritual journey. The labyrinth is a walking tool for prayer. It is a way of seeking the presence of God, connecting, opening up to what God will bring to you during the journey. Many cathedrals in Europe designed labyrinths grooved into walls as finger paths or into floor tiles. In the Middle ages, crusades and pilgrimage to the Holy Land added spiritual energy to the church for the wealthy. The farmers, women, and poor also wanted to make pilgrimage. The labyrinth provides a spiritual discipline for us to contemplate our journey.

As you approach the labyrinth walk, consciously slow your breathing and clear your mind. You are beginning an inner walk of the heart. Perhaps you are hoping for a definite experience of God amid the hustle and bustle of life. Perhaps you bring a 13428650_10153729745900875_5088153784633668800_nburden, a hurt, a joy, or seek clarity. The journey may be tearful or joyful. Bring to the center either a gift to God or a surrendering to Him. Stay in the center as long as you wish. You will find God’s peace, love and blessings in your journey in and then back out. Draw close to God, touch him. He will touch you, trusting in the unspoken. Take time at the end to remain in reflection and stillness at the fringes of the Labyrinth. Are you different after the walk? How can I be different in the world with God walking beside me?

I have had the privilege of walking many labyrinths at events and personally in my spiritual journey. Each time I am amazed at what God says to me through the experience. I have dreamed that one day Laurel Ridge Camp would have a labyrinth, which would have been so beneficial to me, particularly during my Gemeinschaft days. Now this dream is fast becoming a reality. Thanks to the staff at Laurel Ridge, Matt Pace from Christ Moravian (who has a heart for this wonderful camp), and the EcoMission 2016 staff and campers, the site has been cleared labryinth blog photo3right out the back door of the old entrance to Higgins Lodge. It is back in the woods in a beautiful serene setting. The labyrinth is now sketched out and in the next months will be completely finished for groups, congregations, individuals, campers, youth groups, and many more to experience. You’ll find books about labyrinth walking, bookmarks, prayers, ideas for reflecting, as well as some very simple directions in Higgins Lodge.

There is a possibility of an experience to put the finishing touches on this project. JOY camp is scheduled as an adult summer camp opportunity for August 1-4, 2016. We will spend the mornings working on landscaping the site to make it more beautiful. In the afternoon, there will be plenty of free time for short day trips around Laurel Ridge area. We will come back together after dinner for some intentional experiences using the labyrinth and close with vespers. If you are interested in giving back to Laurel Ridge, join us for this camp. Register before July 10. We have to have a certain number of people interested for this camp to actually take place.

Take time to enjoy this experience. Use it for your congregational retreats. Ask the BCM staff to coordinate some retreat plans for you to use the labyrinth. Bring your campers and youth groups there. Remember to give thanks for where your walk has brought you.Beth Hayes portrait

If you have questions or need additional information, email (bhayesATmcsp.org) or call the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) 

Photos: Laurel Ridge, Beth Hayes

Living Faith Small Group Ministry: Part Three

This is the third post in this blog. In the first post, I shared my view that opportunities for spiritual growth are one of three foundational assignments which God has given to the Church along with outreach and worship. I suggested that our Church needs a more concerted focus on spiritual growth opportunities for our members because much of what we do in our churches doesn’t achieve this objective.

In the second post, I wrote about the key elements that make spiritual growth possible. These key elements are incorporated into Living Faith, a model of congregational life which is being developed by the Board of Cooperative Ministries. In introducing this model I mentioned that a group that focuses on spiritual growth must be small to allow all members to share. I stated that there must be confidentiality within such a group. And I wrote about accountability for personal daily devotions and attendance in group gatherings. This post continues this discussion of the components that make spiritual growth possible.

In addition to small size, confidentiality, and accountability, there are a few other key components that a Living Faith group needs to allow spiritual growth to happen.

Leadership. Ideally, the group leader has had previous experience in a group focused on spiritual growth. That person helps the group remain faithful to its covenant. The leader keeps the group on track so that the group’s discussions don’t drift into conversations about theology, society, politics, sports or a host of other topics that are enjoyable but not consistent with the group’s purpose. The leader also guides the group as it explores the study materials that are covered. Keep in mind the leader is not an expert or teacher. The leader discovers new things about faith along with the other group members. The leader’s task is not to enforce rules but to encourage the group to stay on track. Basically, the leader has become familiar with the Living Faith model and seeks to follow this model with the group.

There are two other key components to Living Faith groups. The first of these is described in the rest of this post. I’ll save the last one until the next post. It’s the hardest one.

Outreach. In my first post I mentioned that there are three foundational assignments which God has given to the Church. They are to provide opportunities for spiritual growth, outreach into the world, and worship. In Living Faith, outreach is an outgrowth of the small group experience that produces spiritual growth. This follows in a general way the model that we find Jesus using in Luke 10 with 70 disciples. If we see that passage as a summary of an extended period of preparation, we find that he spent time training them in the context of their community. They then went out, working together on their various outreach efforts. Afterward, they came back together to celebrate and reflect on what they had done. Imagine the bonding and the growth they experienced as their community developed through sharing with each other and then through serving others.

Living Faith groups undertake outreach as groups. This can vary widely, but each group discerns God’s leading toward a specific type of outreach and then pursues it together. In Luke 10 the disciples went in groups of two, whereas Living Faith groups serve as slightly larger groups. Just as the fellowship of the group binds its members together as it focuses on spiritual growth, so the bonds that develop through outreach are no less powerful.

Initially a group develops its small community through talking and sharing. In outreach the group develops unity through doing. Both are important. Both are found in Jesus’ method of training his followers. Henri Nouwen in Spiritual Direction-Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith suggests that this experience of community and outreach are two of three disciplines–along with solitude–to which Christians are called. “These are the three disciplines we are called to practice on the long journey home: (1) solitude or communion with God in prayer [a form of worship; although Nouwen is focused on solitary worship rather than corporate worship (my comment)]; (2) recognizing and gathering together in community; and (3) ministry or compassion in the world.” The second and third of Nouwen’s disciplines match these components of Living Faith which provide a balance of being faith and doing faith. This makes our faith whole.

A lot of people have undertaken outreach together which led them to live their faith journeys alongside others. Those experiences cemented those friendships. What was the outreach project that brought you close to someone who remains a close friend now?

Next time I’ll write about the hardest component of a Living Faith group.

Questions? Or want to learn more about Living Faith? Contact Tim Byerly at tlbyerly1971(AT)gmail.com.

The Rev. Tim Byerly is the Special Project Manager for Living Faith Small Group Ministry under the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM)

Tim Byerly

 

Youth Matter!

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June 14, 2016

I work with many special groups in my role as Director of Youth, College and Young Adult Ministries.  Two of them are our Regional Youth Councils (RYC).  Due to distance, one Regional Youth Council is composed of representatives and adult advisors from our Moravian churches in North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. The other Regional Youth Council is composed of representatives and adult advisors from our Moravian churches in Florida. While I work throughout the year with the RYC for North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, I also visit our Florida churches at least two times a year for their youth events, and when there, will often meet with the Florida RYC.

Regional Youth Council

Each Regional Youth Council works to:

  • Glorify God through service and mission to/for youth groups in the province with an attitude of selfless love an acceptance for each other and those we serve.
  • Be a representative council serving the province by providing the communications link between churches.
  • Develop unity and friendship within the province among youth, thereby striving to unify the youth ministries program of the Southern Province.
  • Assist with the planning and coordinating of provincial youth activities.

(from the Regional Youth Council Constitution)

Our NC/VA/GA Regional Youth Council has monthly meetings during the school months and an annual Winter Retreat at Laurel Ridge. They carry out mission projects, plan provincial youth events, and help plan the Senior High Camp at Laurel Ridge. Our FL Regional Youth Council meets two to three times a year. They also plan youth events for the Florida District, including their Winter Youth Retreat, a Beach Bash & service project, and Christian music events such as Night of Joy at Disney or Rock the Universe at Universal Studios.

Florida Regional Youth Council

Both Regional Youth Councils are active and important groups in our province. Both provide great opportunities to keep our youth connected, to give them opportunities to serve, to help develop leadership among our youth, and to let them make a difference in our province and for the Lord! They also provide a lot of excitement, a lot of fun, and a lot of joy to the ministry of our province!

If you have questions or need additional information, email (drightsATmcsp.org) or call the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries at (336) 722-8126.

The Rev. Doug Rights is the Director of Youth, College, and Young Adult Ministries at the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). 

Living Faith Small Group Ministry: Part Two

This is the second in a series of posts that share the development of a project which I’ve been working on since June of 2015. (Read Part One here.) The Board of Cooperative Ministries has sponsored and overseen this work. I didn’t think it would ever have a name, but finally we found one that rang true for those involved in this process. We now call it Living Faith.

This blog starts with my comments regarding the development of a model of church life that we believe can invigorate our congregations. You may find that some of my comments ring true for you, while others might have you objecting out loud. I hope you share both in response to this blog.

In my first post, I suggested that much of what we do in our congregations focuses on things other than what we need to enable our members to experience spiritual growth. These are important things, but they are designed to achieve objectives other than spiritual growth. If you look back at that post, I write about Sunday School classes and the good that they do. I mentioned that Bible studies also serve an important purpose but often lack the elements that they need in order to enable participants to experience significant spiritual growth. They may learn about spiritual maturity, but they don’t necessarily experience it. This probably raised questions in the minds of many readers as to what factors do I think are needed to make spiritual growth possible. That’s what this post is about.

A key element that helps to make this happen is face-to-face interaction on a regular basis in which we share our spiritual journeys with each other. In Living Faith, this involves sharing our responses to two questions while a few are gathered together:

  • In what ways has God moved in your life since we last met?
  • In what ways has God been silent in your life since we last met?

This makes two things necessary:

1) One is that the group must be smaller than many Sunday School and Bible study classes that exist in many of our churches. If there is a group of seven or more, time just doesn’t allow meaningful responses to these questions by each participant. Smaller than seven is actually preferable.

2) The second thing that becomes necessary in order to respond honestly to these two simple questions is an agreement that things shared must be kept in the strictest confidence. Most of our gatherings in church are not understood to be in confidence. They are good groups, but they aren’t seen as places of confidentiality. This is not to suggest that people must share deep, intimate secrets in such a setting in order to achieve spiritual maturity; but some level of privacy is needed in order to develop close relationships and accountability.

Speaking of accountability, in addition to face-to-face interaction on a regular basis, another element that is essential to spiritual growth is attendance at the weekly to bi-weekly Living Faith group’s gatherings and also personal daily devotional practices. Group members don’t confront each other but encourage each other to remain committed to these parts of their group covenant. This binds the group members together in a way that few other things can do.

Many Moravians have participated in a Gemeinschaft group. This movement began in the Southern Province of the Moravian Church, but it has been used beyond Southern Province churches by many who have found it beneficial. Those who read this and who have participated in such a group will notice some of the similarities between Gemeinschaft and Living Faith. (I should point out that there are significant differences, too.) Most have found that the experience of sharing their faith journey in regular gatherings develops strong, long-lasting relationships. That group becomes an important faith community for them.

The development of one’s faith is not meant to be pursued in solitude. It is intended to be found in the fellowship of others who are seeking the same walk of faith toward spiritual maturity in Christ. That’s what Living Faith is all about.

When has ongoing fellowship in the faith with others enabled you to move closer to Christ. Anyone care to share?

Questions? Or want to learn more about Living Faith? Contact Tim Byerly at tlbyerly1971(AT)gmail.com.

The Rev. Tim Byerly is the Special Project Manager for Living Faith Small Group Ministry under the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM)

Tim Byerly

It’s Time to Be Bold Again

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Let’s face it: we are anxious. Nervous, tense, uptight, some perhaps even scared, frightened, terrified. Life is not the same. We seem busier, more disconnected from each other, less safe, less secure financially, and more uncertain. The world is polarized – pro this, anti that, with very little room for compromise. Violence, intolerance, and xenophobia seem to be on the rise as well.wsquote

Even worse, a new report from the Public Religion Research Institute describes “mainline Protestants” as less optimistic, less hopeful. “Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants are markedly more pessimistic than other groups,” the report notes, “with majorities believing that America’s best days are behind us (60% and 55%, respectively).”

It all sounds so grim. Where is Jesus in all this? How did we, the Easter people, become gripped by fear, rather than inspired by hope? We appear to have hunkered down in our beautiful buildings and left the real world behind. Now the world has found us and is beating at our door. Will we answer the call? Can the church today help us build each other up in faith, love, and hope? This should be a frequent topic of conversation among Moravians.

On November 7, 2015, Moravians got together at Clemmons Moravian Church to talk about making bold choices for Christ. We heard from some pretty sharp folks, including Brother Thomas Fudge, preeminent Hus scholar and Professor of Medieval History at the University of New England in Australia. Dr. Fudge was a visiting professor during the fall of 2015 at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he taught a class about heretics and delivered the Moses Lectures. He helped us understand what it means to be a Hussite 600 years after the death of Jan Hus. Brother Craig Atwood spoke about the ways our Moravian ancestors made bold choices for Christ through the generations, from Gregory the Patriarch in 1457 to Comenius to Zinzendorf until our settlement in what is now Winston-Salem, NC. Brother Sam Gray reminded us that, in many ways, our Moravian brothers and sisters around the world are making bold choices for Christ every day, making tremendous sacrifices to live out their faith in places like Cuba, Peru, Honduras, Albania, and Nicaragua, to name a few. (Visit The Board of Cooperative Ministries YouTube channel to view these inspiring, thought-provoking presentations.)

Our history speaks for itself. The courageous witness of Jan Hus, who gave his life so that the truth would prevail, has inspired Moravians for hundreds of years. Gregory the Patriarch and the early “Unitas Fratrum” (or “Unity of the Brethren”) broke from the established state church in 1457, when it was illegal and even life-threatening to start such a radical movement. Our spiritual ancestors went back to the basics of following the way of Christ from the New Testament, believing that many in the church had lost the true spirit of Christianity. According to the Ancient Unity, the New Testament tells us clearly what is essential: faith, love, and hope.

bonhoefferBishop John Amos Comenius helped keep alive the faith of his church in its darkest hour, and provided inspiration that led to its subsequent revival as the Moravian Church during the Zinzendorf era. The renewed Moravian Church of the 18th century followed Zinzendorf’s bold assertion that “there can be no Christianity without community.” For the refugees in Herrnhut, this profound experience of Christian community developed into a passion for living each day for Christ, regardless of occupation or station, and led our brothers and sisters to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those most marginalized throughout the world.

And so the wisdom of the Scriptures and the faithful example of the Ancient Unity and the Renewed Church provide a way to understand our Christian experience today. God creates; God redeems; God blesses. And we respond in faith, in love, and in hope.

The Rev. Dr. Craig Atwood, Professor of Moravian Theology and Ministry at Moravian Theological Seminary and the Director of Center for Moravian Studies, spoke to the European Synod in Bad Boll, Germany, on May 24, 2016. European Moravians are feeling much the same as their North American counterparts – challenges abound at every turn. You may read Brother Craig’s complete address (and it is worth the read), but this passage stood out in particular:

I believe that in our world today, what we need is hope. And in our churches: we need hope. We need to hold on the hope that is within us. Yes, we experience conflicts in our congregations. Yes, we are facing financial difficulties. Yes, we may be facing the decline or even death of our traditional church life. But these things should not rob us of our hope and courage. Our church has died before. Our church has faced worse challenges than these. We have thrived when we have been the most radical and courageous, when we have embraced the teachings of Jesus most passionately, when we have looked into the future with courage and hope because we know that we belong to Christ and that Christ has called us to love his world with the same passion that he loves the world.

We do have much about which to be hopeful. Certainly, our rich history provides example after example of Moravians acting with boldness and courage in the face of much adversity. We know that our past can inform our future, but how do we bridge that gap between knowing and doing? How do we as the church best respond in these uncertain times to ensure that God’s grace is known far and wide through our witness and action?

Stay Tuned.

(Update 7/5/2016 – Part Two of this post is now available.)

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Questions?  Contact Ruth Cole Burcaw at rburcaw(AT)mcsp.org or call (336) 722-8126 Ext. 401

Ruth Cole Burcaw is Executive Director, Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM).