Moravians Growing in Faith, Love, and Hope

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BY BETH HAYES | 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength. These words that I am commanding you today must always be on your minds. Recite them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting around your house and when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are getting up. Tie them on your hand as a sign. They should be on your forehead as a symbol. Write them on your house’s door frames and on your city’s gates. -Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (CEB)

These words from Deutoronomy speak volumes to me. When I get requests in the Resource Center for resources to teach our children about our Moravian heritage, I am reminded of this verse. There are several fine resources I point older youth and adults to, and soon, there will be another fine resource for Moravians of all ages.

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The Eastern District of the Moravian Church’s Northern Province saw a need for a new curriculum to guide churches in learning Moravian history and to provide meaning for today’s Moravians. They invited the Moravian Church’s Southern Province to join forces to create a multi-aged curriculum focusing on Moravian history with an emphasis of looking to the future. An interprovincial team worked to design the various elements and then contracted with Margaret Norris (now the Director of Christian Education at Home Moravian Church) to manage the project. She worked with a team of writers that included Karen Wilson, Marie Couts, Tricia Everett, Carol Foltz, Sam Gray, Justin Rabbach, and Denny Rohn. After a thorough review by several Moravian theologians, educators, and scholars, we are preparing to unveil it. Called Living Branches: Moravians Growing In Faith, Love, and Hope, this 13-week curriculum written for younger elementary, older elementary, youth, and adult groups will soon be available online. We will also, for a reasonable price, make available printed copies for congregations who need to access it this way. The Southern Province is currently developing a five-day Vacation Bible School model to supplement this curriculum.

Come step into the Moravian world! Ours is a past full of “living branches” – those faithful guiding figures who have led us since the 15th century. These witnesses to the Lamb were not only pioneers in their generations, they also provide inspiration to lead us through our present into our best future. We’ll explore the Moravian Church’s roots, starting with Hus and his peers, and travel the road to the present. We will take stops along the way, visiting Comenius and the “Hidden Seed,” Herrnhut’s revitalized church, and our bold missionaries. We will untangle different periods of history as we move into the future of the Moravian Church, with our past to inform and guide us.

The curriculum design team wanted age-appropriate as well as topically-based curriculum. Therefore, we have arranged these pieces in a 13-week Sunday School model. Additionally, we have coordinated the sessions’ topics so that a particular time period or historical figure can be studied by all ages. For example, if the Moravian Church is celebrating the birth of the Unitas Fratrum, the curriculum pieces that reflect that time in our history can be pulled out and studied by children through adult.

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We are excited this project is nearly complete. Soon churches will be able to teach this rich Moravian history to all ages. As the Deuteronomy passage emphasizes, we must never forget the importance of passing our faith through generations.

Here are a few ways you can use the Moravian curriculum:

  • in place of your regular curriculum for a quarter, (You’ll need to plan ahead and give Beth Hayes plenty of notice!)
  • with your current curriculum at the beginning or end of a session,
  • as a summer Sunday School option,
  • as a week day Kids’ Club option,
  • as Vacation Bible School curriculum,
  • for a Confirmation Class,
  • in your New Member (or Inquirers’) Class, or
  • as part of a weekly Bible study (especially the adult program).

The list could go on and on. Plan to use it to best fit your needs. Get on board and help Moravians of all ages grasp the heritage and beauty of this faith.


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). 

Beth Hayes portrait

 

Beth’s Picks: New Resources for the Advent Season

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BY BETH HAYES | 

New Resources for the Advent Season

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When I worked in a church as an educator, it was hard to think ahead for Advent planning. I would go in stores and hate to see things decorated for the Advent and Christmas season in September. But the truth is… I’ve had to get rid of this thought as a resource person. It is important to think far enough ahead and get the resources out so that people can plan and utilize the resources for the best planning efforts in their congregations.

Advent Resources

Thus, the countdown to Advent and Christmas begins in the Board of Cooperative Ministries Resource Center. In the image above we have our Advent books on display and are taking reservations from people wanting to use a particular resource during Advent. The Resource Center not only loans the books out to congregations to use but will purchase them for churches at the best price possible. Be sure to come in and see our countdown to the Advent season with some pretty awesome new resources.

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God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas. Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe. Paraclete Press. 2015

This provides a perfect way to slow down and reconnect with the traditions that illuminate the meaning of Christmas and the Incarnation. It offers a tapestry of reflection, Scripture, prayer, and history. We all need to pause and understand the spiritual richness of the season.

The Redemption of Scrooge. Matt Rawle. Abingdon Press. 2016

This study is based on the book by Charles Dickens. It explores the world of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim , and the Cratchits with an eye to Christian faith. Along the way you will meet the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come and learn about living with and for others in a world blessed by Jesus. There is a four week DVD study with leader guide and a youth study. This particular author has taken several novels and worked with them from a faith perspective in a very creative way. It is sure to intrigue you.

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Underdogs and Outsiders: A Bible Study on the Untold Stories of Advent. Tom Fuerst. Abingdon Press. 2016

The Gospel of Matthew names five women in the family tree of Jesus: Tamar, a forgotten daughter-in-law and widow; Rahab, a prostitute, Ruth, a foreigner: the wife of Uriah, an adulteress; and of course Mary, a young virgin. This study explores the stories of each of these five women, showing how they all played a pivotal role in God’s purposes. You will uncover new dimensions of the story of God’s people and how that story comes into focus in the hope for the Messiah. Each chapter offers questions for reflection and discussion, a brief prayer, and a focus for the week. We hear so many familiar Advent passages, so it is refreshing to look at some of the untold stories.

Why This Jubilee? Advent Reflections on Songs of the Season. James Howell. Upper Room. 2015

In this book of 24 reflections, Howell invites us to revisit familiar songs of the season, even some secular ones, and contemplate certain phrases and their meaning for us. It includes a leaders guide. What a wonderful resource in many settings but I can really see it as a short Bible Study for choir members who sometimes miss out on Sunday School and spiritual enrichment times.

 


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). Below, Beth appears with her sister, aunt, and cousin along with the family Bible.  

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Confirmation… An Ever Changing Process

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APRIL 18, 2016

Growing up in the Presbyterian Church and being confirmed as a teenager is not so vastly different from the process that Moravians take in their confirmation practices. Those memories of confirmation for me are everlasting. I developed relationships with adult mentors who cared enough about me to help me in this step in my faith. I truly felt like a worthy member of a congregation when given tasks during confirmation, such as baking communion bread with my family, and preparing the elements for a communion Sunday. Even the small task of making sure there was a glass of water in the pulpit each Sunday for the pastor… it may seem meaningless, but it is far from that. I learned the importance of even the smallest of tasks and made those next steps in my faith journey. It truly made me feel like a member of a congregation that could contribute something.

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Click above image to see more about this book at our online Resource Center library!

As I was fortunate enough to spend some time this year reflecting on my faith journey and what each step meant to me, I ran across a new book, 100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation: A Guide for Parents and Youth Leaders. It was written by Rebeccca Kirkpatrick and published by Westminister John Knox Press in 2015. What a read it is! Not only for parents, but Sunday School teachers and youth leaders, as we strive to make confirmation be the most meaningful experience it can be. Drop by the Resource Center and borrow it for an excellent read about planting, feeding, watching growth, and understanding an experience such as confirmation.

In Bill Gramley’s piece for Moravian confirmation, Confirmation: A Graceful Step, he refers to confirmation as an opportunity for young people to make a public profession of their faith in Jesus Christ. It is a time when they confirm the steps that have already been taken for them by their parents or guardians, usually by virtue of infant baptism. It allows them to become more aware of the meaning of Christianity and be more deliberate in their response to God’s purpose for their lives. Confirmation is one of the milestones of faith that congregations can celebrate with a young person. It is truly an important step as it gives the opportunity to learn more about the Bible, theology, and what it means to be a member of a Moravian church.

Rev. Matthew Allen leading confirmation on Palm Sunday this year at Olivet Moravian.

Rev. Matthew Allen leading confirmation on Palm Sunday this year at Olivet Moravian.

Many of your churches may be at the end of this process with confirmation taking place during Holy Week or Pentecost. I challenge you not to stop here. We are offering a wonderful opportunity this summer for you to take this process one step further. At the August 14, 2016 Moravian Children’s Festival and Lovefeast, attendees will have the unique opportunity to visit many of the provincial agencies and learn about the work that they do for the church. This event is open to Moravians of all ages! The street will be closed and groups will be able to walk from the square, up Church Street to God’s Acre, stopping at the Board of Cooperative Ministries offices and Resource Center, Board of World Mission, and more. Make your plans now to bring your confirmation group even if you have ended the process. What a wonderful opportunity to continue those treasured relationships you have developed by showing the workings of the Moravian Church.Beth Hayes portrait

It is truly a graceful step, but just one of the first steps of following Jesus. It is not the end of one’s faith journey, but a gift that is received by our faith and proven through discoveries yet to be revealed. Help your young people continue this journey! Bring them to the Children’s Festival and use the opportunity to enrich their faith journey, as well as see the buildings and people that make up the Moravian Church today.

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) 

Holy Week for Children

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Are you surprised that I am offering this resource for congregations to consider? It’s true that I believe school-aged children and those learning to read would benefit a great deal from attending Holy Week readings with their family. It is a beautiful Moravian tradition that should not be forgotten. What better time than Holy Week to give a child their own book of Holy Week readings as a special family milestone and to participate in these readings together. But we also have many visitors to our Resource Center ask, BlogADCLaurelRidgeDSC_0791“What can we do with the children during the Holy Week readings?” We should provide a resource for situations where children are separated during the Holy Week readings, so that they too experience faith formation during this time.

At the link is a Lenten children’s experience developed from various Scripture passages used in the Holy Week readings coupled with some rich children’s resources.

May this most Holy season be truly blessed for each of you. Spend some family time together. Enjoy the rich Moravian traditions of the Holy Week readings, Easter sunrise service, and, of course, hot cross buns! And, if you do separate children from the Holy Week reading services, please consider this model of Holy Week Readings for children.102015bethhayesportrait

If you have questions or need additional information to enrich your Lenten season, please email (bhayesATmcsp.org – replace the “AT” with @) or call me at the Resource Center (336) 722-8126.

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

From The Resource Center: What You Need for Advent

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It’s November. The Halloween candy is being taken off the shelf… many stores skipping Thanksgiving and going straight to Christmas. At this point in the year, it is getting easier to start fathoming the cold winds and many Moravian traditions that often accompany the Advent season, but at the risk of being like that store that puts out Christmas decorations just a little too early, we are asking you to think about the Advent season now. Not the shopping, the decorations, or even all of the great food–think of the spiritual journey of Advent. What do you want to experience during this season in your family, with your friends, and by yourself ? So now, before you get caught up in everything else,, think about some of the many books and studies in our Resource Center that can help get you where you truly want to be this Advent…

Group Studies:

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Finding Bethlehem in the Midst of Bedlam (James Moore) Christmas or confusion, Bethlehem or bedlam . . . Which will you choose this year? The truth is, we don’t have to choose, because Christmas always happens right in the midst of our chaos. God breaks into our noisy disorder and is made known in Jesus Christ. Christmas and confusion—weren’t they intimately related at the first Christmas when Jesus was born? Sometimes we forget that. That’s what this study is about—how Christ breaks into our chaos and confusion and brings Christmas—how Bethlehem always happens in the midst of bedlam. The re-introduction of this all-church Advent study, which features a new Leader Guide and DVD, has five sessions—one for each Sunday of Advent and one for Christmas. Each chapter includes questions for reflection and discussion, a brief prayer, a focus for the week, and six daily Bible readings for personal devotional time during the week.

The Journey: Walking The Road to Bethlehem (Adam Hamilton) Using historical information, archaeological data, and a personal look at some of the stories surrounding the birth, the most amazing moment in history will become more real as you walk along this road. This study includes a DVD and a devotional book.

A Different Kind of Christmas (Mike Slaughter) This will empower your family and your church to reclaim the broader missional meaning of Jesus’ birth, and A different kind of Christmas - bookexperience a Christmas season with more peace and joy than any toy or gadget could ever bring. Discover how Christians can experience the true joy of living and giving like Jesus, beginning with the Christmas season and continuing as a lifestyle. There is a DVD component as well as a devotional book.

Children’s Studies:

The Christmas Shoppe - bookThe Christmas Shoppe: An Advent Experience for Children (Daphna Flegal and Marcia Stoner) Children explore the story and the symbols of Jesus’ birth, peruse the Bible, and create symbols of Advent as special gifts. This book helps children prepare to be a part of the presentation of the Christmas story. It comes with an inter-generational worship model.The Story of Christmas. Inside this Advent calendar you will find 25 small numbered books. As you open the gates, the Christmas story will start to unfold. It teaches children the amazing story of the first Christmas on earth.

Unwrapping the Christmas Crèche (Lisa Flinn and Barbara Younger) This engaging and delightful book follows a child’s thoughts and actions as the Christmas crèche is unwrapped. Each figure comes to life in this Advent adventure! Share Unwrapping the Christmas Crèche with your children as you create memories and traditions of your own.

Individual Studies:sent

Sent: Delivering The Gift of Hope (Jorge Acevedo) “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them . . .” —John 17:18 God sent Christ at Christmas. In turn, Christ sends us into the world to be his hands and feet, head and heart. Dynamic pastor Jorge Acevedo leads us on a 5-week Advent journey to discover how, where, and why we are sent. Joining him on the journey are four young clergy including Jacob Armstrong, Rachel Billups, Justin LaRosa, and Lanecia Rouse, who challenge us through story, art, and Bible study. This devotional, offering four weeks of daily reflections, functions beautifully on its own or as part of the church-wide experience. The reflections are ideal for use during Advent and include Scripture, personal insights, daily challenges, and prayers.

Embodied Light: Advent Reflections on the Incarnation (Melissa Tidwell) The book’s penetrating reflections for Advent reveal how to follow this fully human, fully divine Jesus with our full selves – mind, spirit, and body.

The Uncluttered Heart: Making Room for God During Advent and Christmas (Beth Richardson) Advent is the season when we prepare our lives – hearts, minds, and spirits – for the coming of the Christ child. We sweep out the corners of our hearts, cleaning up the clutter, to make space for God’s hope, peace, joy, love, and presence.

God is IGod is in the manger - bookn The Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) These stirring words are devotions that guide and inspire readers as they move thematically through the weeks of Advent and Christmas, from waiting and mystery to redemption, incarnation, and joy.

Waiting For the Wonder: Voices of Advent (Katerina Katsarka Whitley) You are placed in the hearts and minds of the biblical characters – both real and imagined – who played a part in the Christmas narrative. The voices lead us closer to the Christ child and deepen the meaning of the season of Advent.

Family Studies:
Christmas at our house

Creating Christmas Memories: Family Traditions For a Lifetime (Cheri Fuller) The traditions we share together each year remind us of who we are and where we have been as a family. Christmas is a wonderful time to establish new traditions, enhance old ones, and build special memories.

Christmas At Our House: Family Holiday Traditions (Donna Green) This keepsake book preserves the special holiday traditions and memories that bind families together for your children and grandchildren. It is a joyous celebration of the uniqueness of every family.

The Resource Center’s hours are 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday (evenings and weekends by appointments.) Email bhayes@mcsp.org if you have questions or need more information. You can view our Advent catalog here, or search “Advent” on Resource.Moravian.org.