Erdmuthe: The Beloved and Blest “Lady Mother”

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FROM THE MEMOIR OF ERDMUTHE ZINZENDORF |

 

Erdmuthe

Erdmuthe Dorthea von Zinzendorf, also know as “Lady Mother” and the respected foster-mother of the Church

Bringing Herrnhut Into a Flourishing Condition

During the years, the heavenly Father had blessed and prospered our “Lady Mother” in every way, especially in this country, so that everybody watched it with amazement. He gave success to the service of her business assistants, especially the Brethren von Peistel and Sigmund von Gersdorf; and brought her beloved Herrnhut into a flourishing condition, useful to the Lord and to the country.

He also permitted her, and her son-in-law, and her husband to plan for the internal financial affairs of the Unity, so that when the Ordinarius of the Unitas Fratrum (Count Zinzendorf, and his son (Bishop John von Watteville) had effected the sacrifices undertaken for the people, the financial affairs of the Unity were brought into proper order and were conducted with blessing. These plans were so wonderfully supported and brought to pass that not only was the necessary fund fairly well established during the past years, but the current expenses, on a yearly average, were reduced by a ton of gold ($100,000.000).

Count Zinzendorf, perhaps the most instantly recognizable leader of the Moravian Church. He was married to Erdmuthe from 1722 until her death in 1756 | Photo by Mike Riess/IBOC

She spent more than 750,000 Reichstahaler for building and farming respectively, which was carefully used; and like the Unity debts, she not only paid the interest but reduced the five percent or six percent debts by over 600,000 Reichsthaler within a period of ten years.

Herrnhut, Germany - looking at the church | Photo by Mike Riess/IBOC

Herrnhut, Germany – looking at the church | Photo by Mike Riess/IBOC

For the large sums which she lent to the Unity, she never charged more than 1/8%, and that more as a matter of recognition than that she expected to collect it. In order to further this matter, she set aside so little for the support of herself and her children that it was hardly worth mentioning in view of her large possessions and many enterprises. Until her blessed home-going, that is for nearly thirty years, she was the benefactress of Herrnhut.

Page 12, paragraphs one through three 

Last Year of Life: 1755-1756

In short, her grace spent this last year with her family, as contentedly and as blessedly as any of her life. Moreover, according to her custom, she slept little, rising early. And though she was busy all day with others, for all had free access to her, and her room was always full of high and humble until late at night, yet by her activity in the early morning hours, she found sufficient time for consideration of the holy humanity of the Head of the Church. Then she offered her prayers for all the congregations; then she had the so-called Gemein Wochen and the Nachrichten read aloud in the room; and so she remained in uninterrupted touch with the entire Unity.

She had intended, after the Synod, to visit her 81 year old mother-in-law, who was ill, but was prevented by her own weakness. The Creator of her soul, and the Director of her breath, who had arranged that it should go well with her on earth, was now to make good His promise to make her a soft bed at the end.

She attended the first session of Synod as usual, and intended to spend several days there, which she did in alternating good spirits and weariness, looking to others more ill than she felt. No special symptom manifested itself in her illness, except the extraordinary weakness.

Anna Nitschmann

Anna Nitschmann, a leader of the Moravian Church in her own right. She would later marry Count Zinzendorf in 1757. | Image: Anna Nitchsmann painting. The Unity Archives Herrnhut: GS.67

Two days before her end, Anna Nitschmann, who had been her assistant for twenty years, paid her a quite ordinary visit, neither being conscious that it would be the last. The Countess kissed Anna’s hand tenderly many times during the visit, and continued to throw kisses to her as long as she was in sight. Then she continued in her usual routine of life until one hour before her release. Suddenly, in the presence of a large group of people, who had come as usual to visit her, she gently bowed her head and passed away.

Fortunately, it was Communion day, when the countless tears shed by the congregation over their loss could be mixed with tears of love and joy in their Redeemer; and truly this lessened a thousand-fold the pain, and enabled the congregation to take a share in the blessedness of their beloved and blest “Lady Mother.”

Page 13, paragraphs one through three

Herrnhut, Germany – God’s Acre | Photo by Mike Riess/IBOC

 


November 4: Leading the Way: Women in the Moravian Church Through the Centuries

What can Moravian women in our history teach us about being the church today?

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Erdmuthe picture

The above blog content is comprised of excerpts from the Memoir of the respected foster-mother of the Church Erdmuth Dorothea, who passed blessedly into the arms and bosom of Jesus at Herrnhut, June 19th, 1756 

Questions? Comments? Contact the BCM at BCM@MCSP.org


Read and/or download the full memoir here, courtesy the Moravian Archives, Southern Province: download [LINK]

Visit the Moravian Archives, Southern Province online at MoravianArchives.org


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Why Does the Church Struggle With Millennials? Young Adult Moravians Respond

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RESPONSES FROM YOUNG ADULT MORAVIANS |

We recently asked young adult Moravians to respond to this article by Sam Eaton. In the piece, Sam lays out the reasons why more than half of Millennials have dropped out of church. We also asked young adults to share with us their perception of church in general.

The New York Times defines Millennials as being between 20 and 35 years old, or born between 1980 and 1995, give or take a couple years. Below are six responses from Moravian Millennials and their thoughts on the church’s struggle to attract young people.

Young people


1

Many bloggers and church thinkers have written articles on why we Millennials aren’t attending church. I won’t presume to be any wiser than them, and my perspective is admittedly that of a Millennial who does attend church. However, I do know what draws me to the churches I’ve attended. Rather than a rock band and a coffee bar, the two biggest things that attracted me to my church homes have been community and challenging theology.

My wife and I attend churches whose members greet us with a warm, welcoming reception. Instead of us shuffling into an empty pew unchecked, our church homes had members who introduced themselves and invited us to sit beside them during the service (differing themselves from the common “my pew” phenomenon that often exists). Other church members not only excitedly welcomed us, but invited us to stay for fellowship after the service and introduced us among the congregation.

Radical, challenging theology is the other draw. Never have I felt more filled with faith than after a sermon that made me question myself. While there is certainly need for sermons that affirm our core beliefs and tenets, there’s no reason those same sermons can’t relate those to how we can be more radically Christ-like. While I’m hesitant to speak for all Millennials, I will venture to say that many of us quickly lose interest in sermons on safe topics. A pastor who lovingly challenges me to be more charitable, forgiving, and selfless will win my attendance quicker than anything else. Love me. Challenge and teach me to live love. That is what I desire in a church.

-Kyle Todd, member of Bethania Movarian Church, currently attending United Methodist Church Anacortes, Anacortes, WA

 


2

As a Millennial and self-professed Christian, I feel like I’m often tasked with answering for the sins of Christianity, both historical and ongoing. I think my generation struggles with reconciling actions and proclamations of people associated with the church with our values. I would really appreciate candor from the church regarding these discrepancies and guidance on how to actively address these differences while upholding truth and peace.

On another note, a part of the article that really resonated with me was the section on cliquey-ness and the call to “stop placing blame on individuals who struggle to get connected.” I’ve seen church communities fall short on this a lot, and I have failed on this front as well, but an atmosphere of authentic (not transparently forced) inclusion and acceptance (a.k.a. love) would be transformative in a way that appeals to Millennials, in my opinion.

-Alex Ford, (long-distance) member of Kernersville Moravian Church, Mokpo, South Korea

 

Young people


3

Valid points in the article, and I have seen many similar articles lately. I have been sad to see examples where we, as a community of faith, have drawn in, rather than reached out, when we have faced declining attendance and giving. Shouldn’t that provide for the great moments of faith we celebrate from our history? The moments where God calls us to go beyond our own ability to trust something larger may be in the works? Surely we can live like the community we read about in Acts 2-4, and that we hear about from the days of Zinzendorf.

Finally, the article ends with a section titled, “The Truth is, Church, it’s Your Move.” Here is where I disagree. As an older Millennial, but still in the club, I think now is the time for our move-ment. If we feel the lack of resources is driving a sense of deep seated fear drawing the church inward, then isn’t it up to us to take the action (“be the change you want to see in the world”) we are desperately waiting to see? If we want to be seen and heard, and valued, then we need to be willing to jump into the fray with words and actions that add value, and not just critiques to the system.

In many congregations, a group of 20 young adults could join, participate, and collectively wield a loud voice to help shape the growth and ministry of that community.

Yes, the things on the list are concerns to be faced… but the church needs us to be a part of the solution, and not just point out the problem.

-Justin Rabbach, Ebenezer Moravian Church, Waukesha, WI

 


4

The author’s number one reason as to why Millennials are not attending church speaks the loudest; no one is listening to Millennials. Most Millennials are adults (18+) now and they are tired of still being treated as if they were still kids. The church must be willing to implement new ideas from newer generations.

-Anonymous

 


5

I think I agree with most of what is said in the article.

My thoughts are that many perceive churches to lack authenticity, whether that is true or not. The idea of “practice what you preach” is disconnected as churches seem to only look inward with their programs and beliefs. Personally, I hate being lumped into these age group classifications. Sure, they exist and are a way to analyze data but generalizing that data is not healthy sometimes.

Finally, I like Justin Rabbach’s group, Moravian Church Without Walls. Constraining the church to four walls, a steeple, and worship on Sunday morning, is where you miss this large demographic. There are other ways to worship and serve our Lord. Think outside of the paradigm and maybe this “missing” demographic will reemerge; maybe not in the pews, but in other ways.

-Anonymous

 


Church Pews

6

I nodded my head in agreement so many times that I had a crick in my neck by the end of this article. I grew up in the church, my husband grew up in the church, but neither of us has been a regular church member for over a decade. Why? My excuse was always that life got in the way: college, moving away from home, jobs that required work on the weekends. But now we’re in our early 30s, we’re settled in a town we love, we bought a house, we’re off on Sundays, and we both admit that we feel like something’s missing and that something might just be a church family. Yet every time we get a “Welcome to the neighborhood!  Come visit our church!” postcard in the mail I find myself tossing the card in the trash. I’ve been thinking a lot about why that is–what’s really keeping us from finding a church home now?

I felt like every point made in this piece was spot on, but what resonated with me most were reasons 2, 3, and 5 (which I think are all connected). My last memories of church were the painful realization that, for many in my church family, the mission statements, the church politics, the cliquey-ness were more important than helping the people in this world who need it most. As I get older, religion has become more and more about showing kindness to strangers, giving to the poor, and reflecting Christ’s love through actions in my day-to-day life–the values I learned in Sunday school as a kid, but didn’t see the church practice once I got older.

I don’t need a church family to live out those values, and I’m not confident that I could find a church home committed to practicing what they preach. But, it would be so nice to find a place that did, and a place for my future children to learn those same Sunday school lessons that helped shape me into the person I am today.

-Anonymous (forever-a-Moravian-at-heart)

 


Questions? Comments? Contact the BCM at BCM@MCSP.org

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Kneeling and Patriotism: A Christian Perspective

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BY DEWEY MULLIS |

Picture of a football

Much of the country has been locked in yet another divisive battle. This time, the issue is NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

On one side, there are individuals who are seeking to address issues of racial injustice. On the other side are individuals who find the protest to be disrespectful and therefore invalid.

As both a Christian and an American, this troubles me deeply. What troubles me specifically is that nobody is paying attention and holding on to what isn’t being said.

Jesus would be concerned with injustice because it impacts humans at their core. To be primarily concerned with the symbols is nothing but idolatry.

In all of the conversations I have heard and had, nobody has denied the issue of racial injustice.

The individuals who kneel are obviously calling attention to it, but those on the other side are only expressing concern about the show of respect for symbols of our country. I have to conclude that patriotism is corrupting our ability to address and solve the issue of racial injustice.

If we ask ourselves the age-old question of “what would Jesus do?”, we can contextualize it as such: would Jesus be concerned about injustice or symbols of a country? Hint: the answer is not “all of the above”.

Jesus would be concerned with injustice because it impacts humans at their core. To be primarily concerned with the symbols is nothing but idolatry.

Yes, we have reached a point in this divisive discussion in which we worship the flag and the anthem at the expense of human issues.

It is unacceptable, as Christians and Americans, that patriotism has become the wall that prevents humans from uniting. Unity is indeed an essential.

Patriotism, like worship, should also be acceptable in many forms. This includes using the freedoms allowed in the Constitution.

Here is another way to think about it: Let’s think about the way Christians worship God. Is there a right and wrong way to worship God? People often get stuck on various non-essentials of worship such as the bulletin not being perfect, the musical selection of the choir, their seat being taken, someone’s “church-(in)appropriate wardrobe”, or the baby crying.

Do these things really define worship, or do they blind us from what worship should be?

Worship in the form of a quiet church and rigid order of service is valid. Christian rock music in a make-shift church or at someone’s home is valid. Two strangers smiling at each other and saying, “have a good day” or helping each other is worship. Praying every day or only when you remember is worship. Being the best person you can be for yourself and others is worship.

Why, on the issue of national symbols, is patriotism one way or the highway? Why does it appear to be an elite club only for those who follow all of the rules for respecting and serving American symbols?

Patriotism, like worship, should also be acceptable in many forms. This includes using the freedoms allowed in the Constitution. It also includes basic acts of human decency. Anything that makes this country better is patriotic – one not being better than the other.

While the U.S. is not a Christian nation (having no official religion), to be an American and a Christian can have significant overlap.

Both identities value peace, love, and justice for all. Both identities enable freedom in their own respects. Both identities are intended to show and create unity among people. Both groups are supposed to be inviting to others, and have many missional qualities. Both are supposed to value human dignity and worth.

While these aspects may be interpreted and experienced differently by each person, they are all standards and expectations set by its subscribers.

We, as Christians, cannot let patriotism or symbols blind us. We must instead be bound together for the human issues we commonly experience and acknowledge.

The beauty of it is that we don’t have to give up either identity to achieve this.

Our God calls for it, and our nation stands and strives for it.


Questions? Comments? Contact Dewey Mullis at DeweyMullis@Gmail.com 

Portrait of Dewey Mullis

Dewey Mullis is a life-long Moravian with roots at Friedland Moravian Church. He studied criminal justice at Appalachian State University, and is currently a graduate student of clinical counseling and social work at Moravian Theological Seminary and Marywood University. Dewey has worked with adults and adolescents in correctional and psychiatric facilities, and currently researches re-entry and mental health services for jail populations.

The Transformational Energy of Evangelism

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BY DAVID HOLSTON |

Note: David Holston is the Executive Director of Sunnyside Ministry, a ministry partner of the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). 

Trees in the fall

As fall approaches each year I am reminded of a family in Sparta, NC. I worked on their clapboard house in the summer of 2003, during the first week of the first ever Mission Camp at Laurel Ridge. I helped that week by running errands to and from Blevins Building Supply in Sparta, where we purchased materials and supplies. I would visit two to three times a day to get a two-by-four or a sheet of plywood or some screws.

It didn’t take long for the staff to recognize me, and with each one of them I had a discussion about what we were doing and why we were there doing it. They had seen or heard of other groups doing things like this in Alleghany County, NC. But we were different–with Laurel Ridge just a few minutes from the heart of Sparta, we were neighbors. But for most of them we were also strangers. Over that week we developed a relationship, different from customer/vendor. We were becoming friends.

During a visit, one of the employees, after hearing the story, said “that sounds like the type of church we need here, I don’t ever see churches doing anything like that.” I never made the connection until several years later when a friend told me that what I was describing was evangelism. And he was right, and it wasn’t scary, uncomfortable, or even difficult.

We Moravians talk about having mountain top experiences at Laurel Ridge, and I have felt renewed and revitalized on many occasions during camps and retreats there. But when I left our mountain and went into the world of Alleghany and Ashe Counties to do work in Christ name, it was transformational.

Laurel Ridge

A few months later, I had a minister (not Moravian, and no one I suspect any of our readers may know) bring a meal to the homeless shelter where I was the overnight volunteer. As his youth served the homeless men and women, he stood in the back and watched. He asked me “why do you do this?” I was dumbstruck, not by the question, but by who was asking it. I looked at him and responded: “I believe it is what Christ wants me to do.” I had to ask him, but his response was that “they needed a bus driver.” I never saw him again, but I and the youth from that church continued to work together for several years at that shelter. Volunteering for nearly 15 years in a homeless shelter was also transformational.

I share these two experiences because those show our diverse church experiences. We are either a church that leaves the comfort of our sanctuaries to serve Christ. Or we sit inside our walls. Remember in James 2:17, “so faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Some of the healthiest churches in our community are engaged outside of their sanctuary. They serve and support so many of the causes in our community, and there is an energy in them. I think about the energy that there must have been in Herrnhut in the 1720’s as the Church sent out missionaries all over the world. We are a church that still sends out missionaries and has this energy. I believe as we build our relationship with Christ, we must take that faith out into the world. It is how we demonstrate the love of Christ to others. I think it is contagious and is a way to grow Christians.

Lights and energy

At the beginning I wrote about a family I think of often. I don’t know what has happened to them, they were older adults 14 years ago, the daughter and son-in-law in their mid-70’s, and the parents were in their mid-90’s. We finished in the walls of a bedroom in that clapboard house. Although the rest of the house still afforded glimpses of the outdoors, in the winter I imagine this must be a very cold place. The last day I saw them this house was warm and full of the energy left behind by a group of fearless youth and their adult leaders. We showed a town what Christians can and should do. We showed them a church that at least one person said he would like to see exist near him. If we could show more people that church, think how we might grow the Moravian Church.


Questions? Comments? Contact David Holston at David@SunnysideMinistry.org or call (336) 724-7558 ext. 103

David Holston

David Holston is the Executive Director of Sunnyside Ministry. Sunnyside Ministry is a non-profit organization that provides food, clothing, and emergency financial assistance to families in crisis. All funding for our assistance programs comes from donations and grants. In 2014, Sunnyside Ministry provided $1,883,040 worth of services to families in crisis situations. Grocery orders were provided to 17,634 people and clothing to 15,483 individuals. To learn more about Sunnyside Ministry, subscribe to their email newsletter here.

Remembering Our Baptismal Vows to Nurture the Faith of Our Children

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BY BETH HAYES |

As we broke into the verse of “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” that says “He’s got the itty little baby in his hands…” the image of our three newest additions to Come and Worship came to mind. There is no better time to reflect on the baptismal vows we make as a community and how we help these young families raise their children in their first Christian family.

Come and Worship families

We presented each family with a copy of Loving Hearts United: A Moravian Guide to Family Living and added copies of our favorite Bible stories. The Covenant for Christian Living says this about baptism:

“As parents, remembering that our children are the property of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and take all possible care to preserve them from every evil influence. For this reason we will seek to approve ourselves as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, setting an example for our children. We will give faithful attention to the spiritual development of our children, both in the home and in the church.”

Our response doesn’t end at this point. We pledge to join with families as communities of God to be there and offer help to parents in faith formation. It takes more than families to guide in this process, it takes more than individual churches to guide in this process, and it takes more than Provincial programming to guide in this process. We have to work together in constant and abiding love to nurture children, youth, and even adults in their faith journey. This experience will be that much richer if we do this together as individuals, congregations, and as a Province.

Not every church is fortunate to have a staff person dedicated to leading faith formation. This is one of many areas in which the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM) can assist. In our mission statement, it is listed as our job to help congregations as they and their congregants walk the continuous faith journey. We provide events and workshops on a provincial level so that all churches have access to the resources that will help us in doing this work as a team. Our denomination is much richer for having this programming to help in faith formation and the growth of the Unity. Be sure to take advantage of opportunities that come your way and pass the word on about these opportunities. Join the Roots and Wings Facebook page to stay informed and see some of the best resources and activities for supporting faith formation. Visit our lending library online (Resource.Moravian.org) or in person and check out many helpful resources as you go on this continuous journey.

There are many ways to help in the faith journey, including, but not limited to:

  • Being a table parent at a midweek meal
  • Teaching a Sunday school class
  • Being a youth leader
  • Helping caregivers in your community
  • Joining the Children and Family Task Force of the Moravian BCM

When you prayerfully consider helping in one of those ways or another, remember the baptismal vows and give opportunities to serve some consideration. This is the way to grow our Moravian congregations healthily, where people of all ages can grow together as children of God’s community.


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

Beth Hayes portrait

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


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