Healing Divisions

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BY REV. JOHN JACKMAN |

Every year, Moravians around the world pause to observe the August 13th. This was the date in 1727 when our forebears experienced a powerful renewal, an event that has sometimes been called “the Moravian Pentecost.” We celebrate Holy Communion on the Sunday closest to August 13, sing hymns about renewal and reconciliation – and then what? Do we go about our business the same as before? What impact does this have on our lives today?

Most Moravians know a bit about the event on August 13, 1727, but know little of the details. It didn’t just “happen.” The previous year had been one of growing and terrible divisions among the Herrnhuters. Some newcomers to the little community had brought apocalyptic preaching and talk of the end times. Zinzendorf was the antichrist, Pastor Rothe (the Lutheran pastor called to the Berthelsdorf parish church) was the “beast from the pit.” Families were divided – just about the way some families are now!

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

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

Zinzendorf recognized that his little village of refugees was on the path to destruction, and resigned his position in the court in Dresden to return home and act as pastor to the community, visiting and calling the people together for prayerful study of the scriptures. During this period, the residents became convicted that their behavior toward one another had been inexcusable – that the Savior called His followers to exhibit love toward one another, to be “one” in his name. Out of this grew the remarkable document known in German as the Bruderlisch Vertrag, the Brotherly Agreement, now known as the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living. Rather than a doctrinal statement, the Moravians signed a code of Christian behavior. This was signed on May 12, 1727 by all the residents of Herrnhut. They entered a period of obedience to what they had found in scripture, spending increased time in prayer. The following three months brought about massive changes in the behavior of the community. Dr. Kenneth Curtis, founder of the Christian History Institute, wrote:

“On August 5, Zinzendorf and fourteen of the Brethren spent the entire night in conversation and prayer. On August 10th, Pastor Rothe was so overcome by God’s nearness during an afternoon service at Herrnhut, that he threw himself on the ground during prayer and called to God with words of repentance as he had never done before. The congregation was moved to tears and continued until midnight, praising God and singing.¹”

The Berthelsdorf Parish Church in Germany | Photo by Mike Riess

The next morning, Pastor Rothe invited everyone in the Herrnhut community to a joint communion service at the Bethelsdorf Church. It was held on Wednesday evening, August 13. Count Zinzendorf visited every house in Herrnhut to pray with the family in preparation for this service of communion. During this period of obedience to the Brotherly Agreement, of continued study of scriptures, and intense prayer, all had become convinced of their own sinfulness and need for forgiveness – from Christ and from one another. The service was one of confession; the words of forgiveness in the liturgy, and then the sharing of Holy Communion, had for each a profound meaning. Count Zinzendorf looked upon that August 13th as “a day of the outpourings of the Holy Spirit upon the congregation; it was its Pentecost.” It would later be said “This was the day that they learned to love one another.”

This reestablished the ancient call of the Unity – to live out the Great Commandment and the Beatitudes in community in a way that bore witness to the world of the love of God. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35, NIV. This is a call that the Unity has sought to live out for over 561 years, since our founding in 1457.

But what does August 13 mean for us today? For even if we are not arguing about who is the antichrist or when the End will be, we are a divided people. We are divided by the hot-button issues, by the ranting of politicians, by racial divisions. Shall we go through the motions of singing the hymns and receiving the Lord’s Supper this Sunday – and then go back to being divided and regarding one another out of the corner of our eyes?

Just like our forebears, we need a period of obedience to the Brotherly Agreement, a period of intense Bible study, and even more, a time of earnest prayer. We need to learn to love one another. Without the hard work of preparation, no magical renewal come with the waving of a wand.


Sources

1 Dr. A. Kenneth Curtis, “A Golden Summer.” Republished online at the Zinzendorf Jubilee site, http://zinzendorf.com/pages/index.php?id=a-golden-summer


About the Author

image of John Jackman

Photo courtesy of John Jackman

The Rev. John Jackman is pastor of Trinity Moravian Church in Winston-Salem.

 


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Practicing Resurrection

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BY REV. REBECCA CRAVER | 

In our churches, we have lots of practices. We practice our faith, prayer disciplines, choir anthems, and so much more. Almost 9 years ago a friend introduced to me to the poet Wendell Berry and his poem, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.” It woke me up to a practice of faith that I had missed or at the very least not given much time to develop in my Christian discipleship: practicing resurrection.

Resurrection is something we celebrate, proclaim and claim as part of our faith every day, however, it can be the last thing on our list of possible responses to meet the challenges of the day. I have been wondering over the last few years if resurrection is indeed what we, as churches, are being called into. Most of us know of congregations that are struggling with declining numbers in worship, fewer children and families getting connected, and simple discouragement because what once worked doesn’t seem to be working any longer.

We have more experience than we think we do. Think back, how often have you come up against a new and unexpected challenge and figured out how to meet it?

From my perspective, we seem to be living through a historical pivot point where God is doing some major renovations to the Body of Christ. Just like putting a new kitchen in your home shakes up the whole house and your daily routine, God’s renovation is shaking us up as well. I believe the practice of resurrection has some potential to help us through the transformation process. That first Easter morning no one saw it coming, except Jesus.

Image of cross at Easter

A cross in front of Olivet Moravian Church is adorned with a white cloth on Easter, signifying Christ’s resurrection. | Photo by Andrew David Cox

“The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.” Luke 24:5-9

I find it challenging to imagine what it was like for the women at Jesus’ tomb. I wonder if questions such as these were going through their minds: “How could something so implausible and impossible as resurrection have happened?”, “What in the world are we supposed to do with this new information?”, and “What does it even look like to practice resurrection?”

Here are a few ideas from the poem “Manifesto” by Wendell Berry: “So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it.”

We have more experience than we think we do. Think back, how often have you come up against a new and unexpected challenge and figured out how to meet it? With the help and support of family, friends, and faith, we have found ways to thrive even in times of change, upheaval and sorrow. So let’s take the lessons we have learned in our daily lives and use them in our churches.

The Moravian seal or emblem, in all its forms, encourages us to follow Christ no matter the challenge or change we face. | Seals: Moravian emblem on Tanzanian cloth (top left), 2018 Southern Province Synod logo (bottom left), standard seal commonly seen in North America (middle), painted seal at Friedland Moravian Church (top right), stained-glass seal at Clemmons Moravian Church (bottom right). | Photos and graphic by Andrew David Cox

Here in Edmonton, Alberta Canada, our congregations have been setting aside time to talk together about our future(s). We are participating in a series called, “Food, Faith, and Future.” This is one way we are seeking to practice resurrection. We come to these conversations from our various contexts to listen for and imagine together how God’s renovation may be leading us into the future. For some of us, it seems like the writing is on the wall and the future of our congregational ministry may be coming to an end. For other congregations, there are different challenges to their ministries. However, each of our congregations still recognizes that God is working in us and through us for the Kin(g)dom of God. So whatever the future holds in terms of our institutional presence, our call to ministry and service continues.

As a pastor in Edmonton, I have great hope that these conversations on how our ministry might continue will bear fruit for the Kin(g)dom. We are not people of the tomb, it is not the place we stay, but the pivot point that sends us out again in search of a life with Jesus leading us on the way. We are sent to practice resurrection, indeed!

“Food, Faith, and Future” in action in Edmonton, Canada at an April 2018 meeting. | Photos by the Rev. Rebecca Craver


Sources

“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.” The Country of Marriage, by Wendell Berry, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.

WBP, Julie. “Poem of the Day – Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.” BookPeople, BookPeople, 5 Apr. 2011, bookpeopleblog.com/2011/04/05/poem-of-the-day-manifesto-the-mad-farmer-liberation-front/.


About the Author

 

Rebecca Craver is a pastor in the Northern Province, serving Edmonton Moravian Church. She serves on the Healthier Congregations Task Force and is a co-creator of the “Create in Me” worship series in The Moravian Magazine and an upcoming podcast.

Contact Rebecca at RevRebeccaCraver@Gmail.com or call office number (780) 439-1063


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Childlike Wonder and the Children’s Festival

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BY ANDREW DAVID COX | 
 
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

The commemorative pieces

On Saturday, August 15, the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries will hold the fifth annual Children’s Festival and Lovefeast. The event will take place at Hope Moravian Church from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The festival commemorates the Moravian children’s spiritual renewal of 1727 in Herrnhut, Germany. Every year, this festival features several activities and events for children and their families. In addition to these activities, a commemorative piece is made with participation from the children. A few of the pieces have involved painting, and this year’s commemorative piece will too.
Image of the Children and Family Task Force

The Children and Family Task Force hold the commemorative pieces from all of the Children’s Festivals to date.

This year’s commemorative piece will be a painted tree, the branches representing the various communities and congregations of the Moravian faith. The tree trunk will be pre-painted on two pieces of plywood. These pieces will be placed on a corner of Hope Moravian, one piece on each corner wall. Attached to the plywood will be pieces of canvas cloth, each of which has branches painted on them. There are four canvas cloths, and each piece of plywood will have two cloths extending off of it to the side (about six feet out). The children will be invited to make the leaves by placing paint handprints along the branches.

A couple weekends ago, I helped create the commemorative piece by drawing the branches. Later that next week, the Children’s Festival planning team got together to paint the branches. The commemorative piece, like anything in the church, is a labor of love and a community effort. There is also something about utilizing your innate creativity, and making handmade art, that brings out your inner childlike wonder and excitement.

Image of the drawing version of the commemorative piece

Andrew David Cox stands in front of part of the commemorative piece for the 2018 Children’s Festival. He had just finished drawing tree branches on four six-foot-wide canvas cloths. You can view a timelapse of the drawing on the BCM’s social media channels. | Photo by Andrew David Cox

The Children’s Festival planning team works on painting the commemorative piece for the 2018 festival. | Photos courtesy of Beth Hayes

Childlike wonder

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

There are a lot of amazing talented adult artists out there. Each one of them is talented in a different way. But one is particularly relevant to the commemorative piece for the Children’s Festival.

I remember learning about Picasso in art school and the creative process that drove much of his work. As an adult, he sought to recapture the way children saw the world, and the way they expressed that through their art. There’s a freeness, simplicity, and purity in the way children create art.

Picasso also notably said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

And on a related note, Jesus said this, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone, who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10: 14-16, NIV)

Through the Children’s Festival, we hope to encourage children to lead a life of faith and to never lose that child-like wonder. We also hope to remind adults that they can always recapture that wonder daily through their lifelong journey as children of God.

We look forward to seeing you at the Children’s Festival, both the children and the children-at-heart. Come ready to learn, have fun, and explore our vibrant faith.


Activities at the Fifth Annual Children’s Festival and Lovefeast include:

  • Storytelling
  • Moravian frakturs
  • Moravian ships and raingutter regatta boat races
  • Learning Bible verses in English and German
  • Bishops teaching about the Moravian surplice and Hope’s role in making them for new Southern Province pastors

Learn more about the Children’s Festival at Moravian.Online/ChildrensFestival


About the Author

Andrew portrait

Andrew David Cox is the Communications Project Manager for the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries (BCM). Andrew is a driven creative person with established experience and skill in a variety of fields. He enjoys following motorsports in his spare time, particularly NASCAR.

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


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It is Enough

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BY LAURA WATSON |

Around the world, millions of people have been tuning in to the World Cup in Russia to watch their nation’s soccer team compete for the title of world champion. Tomorrow, Croatia and France will face off in the World Cup final. 

I love the World Cup (even if my country didn’t qualify to compete!). I love watching as players push themselves to go faster and harder, to persevere through pain, and to work together with their teammates for a common goal. I find myself yelling at the television….“Go, go, go!” I can only imagine what it’s like for the athletes’ families and friends.

Image of a goal being scored in soccer

Photo by Vitaly Krivosheev via Adobe Stock

We live in a culture that tends to yell at us as well….”Go, go, go!” Work harder. Climb the ladder. Go for the gold. Be all that you can be. Achieve. Shoot for the moon. Aim for the stars. You get what I mean.

Striving to be the best is important, but when is it okay to say, “It is enough.”? Especially since the “go, go, go” mindset is often paired with “more, more, more”? We’re inundated with marketing messages to get the car with more features, the phone with more storage, and the insurance plan with more coverage. And who doesn’t want more? I know I do.

When I think of myself as a steward, I have to acknowledge the need to shift my mindset. Father Andrew Kemberling of St. Thomas More parish in Centennial, Colorado, once wrote, “Stewardship is a gift from God for the conversion of a materialistic world. It is living out a commitment to be Christ-centered rather than self-centered and involves a conversion of the heart.”

This really speaks to me and invites me to acknowledge that it is enough. I have enough. God has blessed me abundantly and I am to receive His gifts gratefully and share them with others. I can’t imagine praying, “More, more, more!”, and yet that is oftentimes how I live.

Christ-centered rather than self-centered. A conversion of the heart. What an invitation.

So while I will continue to yell at my favorite soccer players as they push to fulfill their World Cup dream, I will remember that it is enough. I have enough. And that means I will live my life differently. I will strive to answer Christ’s call to renew the face of the earth. I will celebrate God’s everlasting love and that I am his. I will experience the joy and deepening faith that comes from proclaiming, “The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.”

And It Is Enough.

An image of the mountains at Laurel Ridge Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center | Photo by Andrew David Cox

The mountains at Laurel Ridge Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center | Photo by Andrew David Cox

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Image of Laura Watson

Photo via MMFA.info

Laura Watson is the Director of Stewardship and Development Services for the Moravian Ministries Foundation of America. Laura joined the Foundation in April of 2012. A native of Winston-Salem and member of Home Moravian Church, she has worked in the Florida school system, at Salem College, and as Assistant Director of Laurel Ridge, the Southern Province’s camp and conference center.

When she’s not busy with stewardship and capital campaign consulting for the Foundation, Laura enjoys running and fundraising for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), as well as traveling with her husband, Mark. She has served on the Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees and the Salem Academy Alumnae Board and currently serves on the Triad JDRF Board of Directors.

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Mission Trips and Faith

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BY ANNA STEWART FAIRCLOTH |

It was March of 2011 and I was on a bus with my youth group from Friedberg Moravian Church. We were headed for a mission weekend in Tennessee to help repair houses. We slept in a church on cots and played cards for hours when we got back from our worksite. At the time of this trip, I was certain God had sent me because this lady really needed help with her house. But looking back, I can see God sent me on this trip also because he knew I needed friends. I came back from that trip with a bus full of friends who pushed me to be better and kept me coming back to church every Sunday. Since then, I have gone on numerous mission trips that have led me all around the world. I’ve learned that God can use anybody to change the world. All you have to do is say yes!

God always reaches out his hand. He’s just waiting for you to grab it.

The Lord has taught me so many valuable lessons through mission work. I was on a plane from Addis Ababa to Mombasa when I realized that I was literally going to Africa. No joke. I knew the Lord was calling me to Kenya, but why? I think sometimes Jesus puts us in situations so that we are forced to rely on him. I was scared, a little homesick, and really wanted Chick-fil-a after eating airplane food for two days. I prayed to him for comfort and to bring me peace so that I knew I was meant for this. And that’s when I felt I tap on my arm. My neighbor had been sitting beside me silently the whole trip until we hit some turbulence. He shyly asked if he could hold my hand. It was his first time flying and he was scared. I smiled and reached out my hand. I think God does the same thing to us. Leaving your comfort zone can be scary, but God always reaches out his hand. He’s just waiting for you to grab it.

Image: Anna singing and dancing with one of the children at Ray of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Anna Stewart Faircloth.

Anna singing and dancing with one of the children at Ray of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Anna Stewart Faircloth.

Another lesson I have learned from my experience with missions: anything can be a moment for ministry. I used to think going on mission trips looked like evangelizing to everyone I met and bringing them to Jesus. Don’t get me wrong; we should be doing this too! But ministry also looks like sorting beans, blowing up balloons and making them into animals, and painting houses. When we humbly serve God’s children, we are reflecting Christ out into the world.

The Lord created us to be in community and family with one another. He didn’t just stop after Adam. He recognized loneliness and knew we weren’t meant to live that way. I have often heard people ask, “Why don’t you just send them the money you would spend on getting there to them?” The Great Commission tells us to go to the ends of the Earth for our brothers and sisters. Go into all the nations and baptize them into one nation, God’s kingdom. We can’t do that just by sending a check and signing our name on a card. My first mission trip to Tennessee made me want to start a relationship with Jesus. Not because of the work we did but because of the people who were there. They loved me like Jesus does, just as I am.

Image: In the Dominican Republic: Anna celebrating a little boy's successful surgery. He had just received surgery for a cleft pallet. | Photo courtesy of Anna Stewart Faircloth.

In the Dominican Republic: Anna celebrating a little boy’s successful surgery. He had just received surgery for a cleft pallet. | Photo courtesy of Anna Stewart Faircloth.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28: 16-20, ESV

This world needs a revival and it starts with you! How are you responding to the Great Commission? Are you living out your God-given responsibility to share the Gospel with every nation and tribe? Be the generation that fulfills the Great Commission. Put your trust in him and be spontaneous for God. All you have to do is go!

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Image: Ray of Hope Orphanage in Kenya: Anna and one of the children after a church service. They became fast best friends!

Ray of Hope Orphanage in Kenya: Anna and one of the children after a church service. They became fast best friends!

Anna Stewart Faircloth is an intern at the Board of World Mission for the summer of 2018 and is a member of Friedberg Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC. She attends Liberty University and is studying Youth Ministry with a minor in Camp and Outdoor Leadership as well as a minor in Family and Child Development.

 

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Jesus Loves the Children… All the Children of the World

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BY BETH HAYES |

Children participate in an activity at one of the Children's Festivals

Children participate in activities at one of the annual Children’s Festivals | Photo by Suzy Tucker

A few weeks ago, many of us witnessed history being made at Trinity Moravian with the consecration of Carol Foltz as the first female bishop in the Southern Province. In her charge, we heard that she pledged herself to the work of children’s ministry in the Moravian Church as one of the important goals in her role as a bishop. The wonderful Logos Choir of children opened the service and warmed many of our hearts with a rendition of “I’ll Fly Away.” It was truly a day to remember.

It is important that each congregation in the Moravian Church share Carol’s commitment to children. The recent Southern Province Synod passed a resolution (Resolution #5) to adapt Loving Hearts United: A Moravian Guide to Family Living into a weekly email for families and educators. Work by this Synod working group and the Board of Cooperative Ministries has already begun to make this a reality by end of August when many children’s summer will end, bringing with it the beginning of a new school year. Parents, grandparents, and guardians, it is up to you to sign up to get these weekly emails and use the suggestions as part of your weekly family time together. What an impact this could make at the beginning of a new school year, and throughout the rest of the year for your families. (More info on where to sign up for these emails will be available at a later date.)

The Board of Cooperative Ministries continues to work for the children in our Province too. The fifth annual Children’s Festival and Lovefeast is almost here. There is a lot of interactive learning of Moravian history planned for families at Hope Moravian.

Moravian Ministry Voyage logo

The Moravian Ministry Voyage will happen at Advent Moravian in September. where Moravians of all ages, including children, will gather to learn about Moravian ministry locally and internationally, and see the first ever Southern Province performance of Irene: the Adventure Begins. Irene is a musical about Leonard Dober, David Nitschmann, and their mission work.

The Moravian BCM continues to help our congregations in the ongoing ministry with children by providing quality Sunday school curriculum options, Vacation Bible School options, and a whole host of books and resources for families to use in doing faith formation at home.

Carol Foltz at her service of consecration

The Rt. Rev. Carol Foltz shortly after being consecrated as a bishop of the Moravian Church | Photo by Andrew David Cox / BCM

Let’s not forget Carol’s pledge to serve children and our responsibility that we accepted at children’s baptisms. At these baptisms, we pledge to guide them in faith formation in our congregations and we pledge to provide help and support to their parents.

The BCM will continue to provide opportunities like the Children’s Festival and the Ministry Voyage. There is a Children and Family Task Force that works under the Board of Cooperative Ministries. It is being redesigned at this time and we are looking for new members. For those who might be interested, it meets quarterly. If you or someone you know has a heart for children and family ministry, please let me know and we would love to have you on our team. The goal of this task force says it all: to celebrate and encourage children and families in the life of our church and support faith communities as we fulfill the promise of baptism for our Moravian families.

In closing, remember this quote from The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember 

“Each generation, in its turn, is a link between all that has gone before and all that comes after. That is true genetically and it is equally true in the transmission of identity. Our parents gave us what they were able to give, and we took what we could of it and made it part of ourselves. If we knew our grandparents, and even great-grandparents, we will have taken from them what they could offer us too. All that helped to make us who we are. We in our turn will offer what we can of ourselves to our children and their offspring” (Rogers 65).

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, Sunday school teacher, or a member of a congregation, let’s band together and offer the best we can for our children.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth Hayes portrait

Beth Hayes is the Director of Congregational Ministries and Resources for the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries. She has been working in this role for 33 years. Before coming to the Moravian Church, she served as the director of Christian Education in several Presbyterian Churches. She holds a Master’s Degree in Christian Education from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education. She is a member of Clemmons Moravian Church and regularly attends Come and Worship.


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Leaders Develop Leaders

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BY RUTH COLE BURCAW |

Take a look around the church. Who is leading? From where I sit within the provincial organization, nearly everyone in a significant position within an agency or institution share one common life experience… they went to camp. For those of us in the Southern Province of the Moravian Church, that means Laurel Ridge. In fact, many of us actually worked on the M-Staff, where as summer staffers we played guitar, guarded swimmers, led activities, and cleaned lots of bathrooms. If not M-Staff, many leaders once served as counselors or visited Laurel Ridge as a camper. Others served on the Regional Youth Council (RYC), a youth organization made up of representatives from each congregation.

Above: Ruth Cole Burcaw and Butch Sawtelle at Laurel Ridge, during their time on staff (circa 1987). Butch has gone on to provide leadership in his local congregation, on the Mission Society board, and at Laurel Ridge. Ruth serves in provincial leadership.

I know that my own Moravian leadership journey began with my service on RYC, where I served as president while in high school. I worked on M-Staff during my college years in the summers of 1985, 1986, and 1987. And while there were several intermittent years where I focused on raising my family, I never left the church. I served in leadership in a variety of ways in my local congregations. In my early 40s, I became more involved at the provincial level and was elected to the Board of Christian Education, one of the predecessor boards to the agency I currently serve as Executive Director–the Board of Cooperative Ministries.

Why am I a leader in the Moravian Church? Is it because I’m a preacher’s daughter who grew up with the church hard-wired into my DNA? Is it because I’m a somewhat ambitious, overachieving first-born child? Or is it my natural bossiness, my “take-charge” personality? Or that my parents raised me to believe I could do anything I put my mind to and worked hard to accomplish? Circumstance, birth order, personality, nurture. Surely these all play a role, but ultimately, I believe I am where I am today for two primary reasons: 1) my leadership capability emerged from my lived experience as a young Moravian, and 2) I had mentors who believed in me and encouraged me to use my giftedness so I might strive to become all that God created me to be.

“Transformative leaders create the atmosphere, context, and support that enable and stimulate people to generate the needed transformational change. When the possibilities and giftedness of people are nurtured and when they are invited to be part of the vision and solutions to the challenges facing the organization, it is then and only then that the culture of the organization begins to adjust and adapt.” -Gary Nelson

Let’s be honest: the Moravian Church is small. If we count our brothers and sisters around the world, we are talking about just over a million people. Put us up next to the Catholics (70 million in the US alone), the Southern Baptists (15 million), or even our newest ecumenical partners, the Methodists (12 million), and the less than 40,000 members in North America seem rather insignificant. Do the math. Given our small numbers, our capacity to produce transformative leaders is also small.

But I’m hopeful. Our church is full of Jesus-loving, faith-living, justice-seeking men and women who model the way for our young adults and children. When I think about the amazing Moravians who inspired and encouraged me throughout my life, including a few who are now pastors, professors, and even bishops, I know that we absolutely can empower and build a new generation of Moravian leaders.

Above: Butch’s daughter, Kathleen Sawtelle, is part of the 2018 Laurel Ridge M-Staff (her brother Michael is facilities director there). Ruth’s son, Jake Burcaw, is interning at camp and is believed to be Laurel Ridge’s first 3rd generation staffer. Jake’s grandfather, the late Hal Cole, was one of the first staffers (M-Boys) to work at Laurel Ridge, cutting trails with Bishop George Higgins. He served as a Moravian pastor for over 40 years.

If we desire future generations to carry on and reimagine our Moravian heritage in the coming years, we must work intentionally to develop the Moravian leaders who will emerge from our congregations and our unique programs and ministries.

Who are the emerging leaders in your congregation? Who can you support, encourage, and mentor?

What you do and say matters – be a mentor to someone in your church or at camp. Encourage them. Listen. Invite them to participate, to lead. Create opportunities. Affirm their innovation and their call. Provide them with a lived experience that they can use for the rest of their life to follow Jesus in serving the world.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ruth Cole Burcaw is the Executive Director of the Board of Cooperative Ministries for the Moravian Church, Southern Province and a member of Unity Moravian Church. She’s pictured above with her father, the Rev. Dr. Hal Cole.


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