Sunday, September 22, 2019

Moravian Moment #129--The Moravian Pentecost

August 16, 2009

In 1722, the Moravian refugees established a new village called Herrnhut, about 2 miles from Berthelsdorf. The town initially grew steadily, but major religious disagreements emerged and by 1727 the community was divided into warring factions. Zinzendorf used a combination of feudal authority and his charismatic personality to restore a semblance of unity, then on August 13th, 1727 the community underwent a dramatic transformation when the inhabitants of Herrnhut "Learned to love one another." following an experience which they attributed to a visitation of the Holy Spirit, similar to that recorded in the Bible on the day of Pentecost. It is said that the great revival at Herrnhut was accompanied by prophecies, visions, glossolalia (Speaking in tongues), and healings.


Many issues were settled by this renewal or revival and, while different doctrinal views still occasionally threatened the unity of the community, Count Zinzendorf was able to maintain harmony of spirit from then on, so the revival could continue unhindered.

Herrnhut grew rapidly following this transforming revival and became the centre of a major movement for Christian renewal and mission during the 18th century. Moravian historians identify the main achievements of this period as:

  1. Setting up a watch of continuous prayer which ran uninterrupted, 24 hours a day, for 100 years, which began out of the August 13th 1727 event.
  2. The origination of the Losungen, the "Daily Watchwords," on 3 May 1728, published today in 50 languages, the oldest and most widely read daily devotional work in the world. Old Testament texts, the "Watchwords", are chosen by lot annually in Herrnhut from a collection of 1200 verses; the New Testament texts, "Doctrinal Texts," are then selected to comment on the Watchwords. This is an ecumenical ministry of the worldwide Moravian Unity that transcends confessional, political and racial barriers of all kinds.
  3. The establishment of over 30 settlements globally on the Herrnhut model, which emphasized a lifestyle of prayer and worship and a form of communal living in which personal property was still held but simplicity of lifestyle and generosity with wealth were considered important spiritual attributes. As a result, divisions between social groups and extremes of wealth and poverty were largely eliminated.
  4. The sending out of hundreds of Christian Missionaries to many parts of the world including the Caribbean, North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, the Arctic, Africa, and the Far East. The Moravian missionaries were the first large scale Protestant missionary movement. They were also first to send unordained "lay" people (rather than trained professional clergymen) as Missionaries, the first to take the Gospel to slaves, and the first in many countries of the world. The first Moravian missionaries were a potter named Leonard Dober and a carpenter named David Nitschmann, who went to the Caribbean island of St. Thomas in 1732.
  5. The formation of many hundreds of small renewal groups operating within the existing churches of Europe, known as "Diaspora societies". These groups encouraged personal prayer and worship, bible study, confession of sins and mutual accountability.