The Moravian Church, Then and Now

The Moravian Church is a Protestant denomination founded in 1457 as the Unitas Fratrum, the Unity of the Brethren, first led by followers of dissident Czech priest Jan Hus. Dispersed by the Thirty Years’ War, the Church was renewed in 1722 at Herrnhut, in Saxony, under the leadership of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, whose own Lutheran family had been exiled from Wachovia, near the Danube in modern Austria.

P.C.G. Reuter, “That Quarter of the World,” closeup of map showing Herrnhut (“HHuth”) near Berlin, and Unity missions “from 90 degrees east and west of London” around the world in 1767

In 1727 the community gathered at Herrnhut experienced both a crisis in getting along – resolved by the creation of a “Brotherly Agreement” in May of that year – and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on August 13 that gave their assembly a renewed sense of blessing and purpose. Soon Moravians were sending missionaries worldwide, and in America their activity centered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 1752, Bishop August Spangenberg led a group from Bethlehem to survey land for purchase by Zinzendorf for a Moravian home in North Carolina, a new “Wachovia” based in Salem. That property became the base for the Southern Province of the Church today.

Readings and Sources on the Ancient Unity

Readings on the Renewed Unitas Fratrum, or the modern Moravian Church