Sunday, December 5, 2010

History and Faith of the Moravians- The Beginning

Excerpt from "Old Salem - The Official Guidebook" by Penelope Niven and Cornelia Wright (click on the link to purchase your copy). Visit the official website of Old Salem Museums and Gardens
"The history of the Moravians comes to life at Old Salem. A unique religious group, the Moravians made the town of Salem an oasis of beauty and order in the Carolina back-country. Today in the workshops, homes, and gardens of Old Salem, men and women carry on the daily tasks of living just as they were done in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries - crafting beautiful objects, running households and businesses, and  engaging in artistic and musical pursuits. This guide will help you make the most of your visit to Old Salem, one of the most authentic living-history museums in the United States."
History and Faith of the Moravians- The Beginning

You are visiting a unique place, a congregation town that was planned, built, owned, and operated by the Moravian Church. The German-speaking men, women, and children who first lived here were hardworking pioneers who transplanted themselves and their deep religious faith from Europe to the Carolina wilderness. They were recognized as "a sober, quiet, and industrious People" whose historic church was respected in Moravia, Bohemia, Prussia, Poland, Silesia, Lusatia, and England.

As you walk the pathways those Moravians created, visit the houses and shops they built, and hear their names and their stories, this brief introduction will help you understand their history, their faith, and their community.

Kralice Bible - First in Modern English

The Moravian brothers who made the treacherous journey to the backwoods of North Carolina were pilgrims, just as surely as their better-known counterparts in New England. They were, in fact, the latest in a long and venerable line of pioneers in the Moravian Church. 

The Moravians had actually called themselves the Unity of the Brethren, or Unitas Fratrum. In the sixteenth century, the church was widely known as the Bohemian Brethren, but when English Christians began calling them Moravians in the 1730's, the name took hold in the English-speaking world. the religious movement had its center in Bohemia and Moravia, neighboring provinces in what would later become part of the country of Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic.
The ancient Unitas Fratrum was born in the tumultuous wake of the death of John Huss, the Catholic priest from Bohemia who challenged the authority and ethics of the established church and was burned at the stake for heresy in 1415. His surviving followers, called the Hussites, suffered terrible persecution as they defended their faith and the memory of their martyred leader. Bohemian King Wenceslas IV, by royal edict and in collusion with the Catholic Church, closed the Hussite churches in 1419. After fourteen years of Hussite Wars, the Hussite congregations existed only in scattered fragments worshiping in secret.

A History of the Moravian Church
History of the Moravian Church
One small group found refuge in the barony of Lititz in Bohemia. In 1457, these pilgrims established a society, built on the principles of the New Testament, that emulated the life of the Apostles. Ten years later they established a separate church. They called themselves at first "The Brethren of the Law of Chris," and then the Unity of the Brethren. The foundation of this society marks the formal beginning of the Moravian Church, or the Unitas Fratrum.

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