November - December 2002
A Communication from the Chairman of the PEC
MESSAGE TO ALL PASTORS AND CONGREGATIONS
Christmas greetings, Sisters and Brothers, in the name of Christ, our Chief Elder.
As we celebrate Christmas we are reminded of the message of the angel to Joseph which told of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Isaiah foretold that a “virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). Matthew gives the interpretation of the name Immanuel as “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).
It is noteworthy that the Christ of Christmas has the significance of being ‘God with us’. It therefore means that Christmas is the promise and fulfillment of God’s presence. And that Divine Presence embodies all the power of the Almighty.
Christmas is therefore more than just another festivity. It must mean more than the external trimmings. Even the sharing of gifts is but decoration as far as the real significance of Christmas is concerned. Christmas ought really to be a reminder of the presence and participation of God in our lives. He loves us and so He has given us Christ. And Christ has taught us and given us direction, and ultimately has procured salvation for us. He has further assured us of the availability of the Holy Spirit to lead and support us. All this is what it means that Immanuel is ‘God with us’.
Throughout our daily lives, then, Christmas should bear this significance. When we approach any task we should remember that God is with us. When we encounter difficulties and perplexities we should be confident that God is with us. When we are anxious about the future we should be reassured by the fact that God is with us. And when we are threatened by danger or fear we should know that God is with us. Then, when we achieve successes and are thrilled by joys this should confirm to us that God has been with us.
We therefore need to live, my Sisters and Brothers, as though God is indeed with us. Even in the midst of our financial trying times as a Province, and as we approach Synod, let us remember that God is with us. And ‘God with us’ means that victory can be ours.
I therefore challenge us to claim this victory in our lives and as a Province. To this end I invite us all to again unite in prayer for our Province during our Watch Night Services. At the crucial midnight hour, when all Moravians are traditionally in prayer, let us lift up our Church, its leaders and the entire membership to God, and place our financial crisis in the hands of Him who is with us. Let us claim that victory occasioned by the Divine Presence.
And then let us go one step further by offering ourselves as part of the answer to our prayer. ‘God with us’ can give us the means, the faith and the courage to help meet our needs as a Province. Therefore let us give sacrificially as individuals and as congregations, as God has blessed and prospered us so that our prayers for financial solvency may be realized.
Our theme for 2002 is’ Submitting to Christ in Service’. Let us begin such submission during our Watch Night Service as we both pray and give sacrificially for our Lord and His Church. Remember, God is with us, therefore let us unleash the power that His Divine Presence affords. Let us claim the victory which His Presence ensures. Let us be part of that victory by all uniting in prayer and sacrificial giving on behalf of our Province. Let us remember that God will continue to be with us beyond this Christmas Season and beyond this Sacrificial Offering, for Christ later promised ‘ lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world’. (Matt. 28:20).
May God bless you richly, especially as you give sacrificially. And may He prosper our Church Spiritually as we seek to live daily in and with His Divine Presence. May His Joy and Peace be yours throughout this Season and always.
Provincial Prayer and Giving
Again this year we invite you to make the Watch Night Service a special time of prayer for the Province. Some matters on which to focus for prayer are:
We also invite you to make the Watch Night Service a special time for a Sacrificial Offering towards the Province. In addition to your regular offering take the opportunity to give a Sacrificial Offering of $100.00 (or what you can afford) towards the ongoing task of alleviating the financial situation of the Province.
We then ask you to take the opportunity, on the first Sunday of the year, to launch the Provincial Restructuring and Capital Development Fund. This project invites every member to give $5.00 per month. This should realise approximately $75,000.00 per month or $900,000.00 in a year. Further information and pledge forms will be available shortly.
Please make this a special time of concern for your Church as you pray and give and may the Grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
Provincial Synod has been scheduled for August 10-20, 2003 in Barbados, inclusive of travel days. The Barbados Conference is currently working assiduously towards hosting this Synod. In an effort to keep the cost at a minimum each Conference will be allowed only three (3) observers (four, in the case of the VI Conference). This would give a total attendance of approximately 100.
Kindly note the following in preparation for Provincial Synod:
Let us remain steadfast in prayer for Provincial Synod.
May the Grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
The Province extends its sympathy to our following brethren in the Church:
Please bear these brothers and sister and their families in prayer.
Unity Synod Report
> Unity Board
The Unity Board will now be led by a President rather than a C hair-man. The Advisory Committee was renamed Executive Committee. The following are the members of the Executive Committee:
> Development of a Province
The following are the stages of development of a Province:
(1) Mission Area
(2) Mission Province
(3) Affiliated Province
(4) Unity Province
Guidelines were given for the process. Each stage of transition will be monitored and approved by representatives of the Unity before they are made. It is not assumed that each new work will automatically develop towards the status of a full Unity Province. Some may remain at a stage which, due to circumstances, best suit their needs.
> Unity Offering for the next 3 years was allocated as follows:
2003- Moravian Church in Tanzania - Southern Province for an Archive building.
2004 - Mission work in Guyana
2005 -Jamaica Province for mission work in Cuba.
> In the light of some tension in the relations between the Honduras and Nicaragua Provinces, the Unity Synod mandated the formation of a mediating team to meet with all Moravians in the two Provinces. The mediating team named by the Unity Board is as follows:
The prayers of the Unity are needed for resolution of this conflict and the healing of all parties.
The Moravian Church in Tanzania Southern Province held her Provincial Synod from 7th to 12th October 2002 in Lutengano. The other three Tanzanian Provinces were in attendance. The Synod dealt extensively with her Provincial constitution. The Provincial Board elected during Synod as follows:
For the first time the other Provincial members were elected equally between women and men, that is four women and four men. Please pray for this Provincial Board which will be in place for the next four years 2002-2006.
The Provincial Synod of the British Province elected Bro. John MacOwatt as bishop. The consecration service was held on 21st September 2002 at Fulneck. We welcome our Unitas Fratrum Bishop in this his new responsibility.
Inter-provincial Women’s Conference
The 9th Inter-provincial Women’s Conference will be held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the USA, and is scheduled for June 18-21, 2003. The theme for this Conference will be, “What Brought Us Together.” The Key-note speakers will be Ann Weems (Writer, Liturgist, and Poet), Liz Curtis Higgs (Award-winning author), Ann Graham Lotz (Award-winning author, Founder and President of AnGel Ministries).
Conference Fees: Early Registration (by Feb. 15, 2003) – US $225.00.
For more information, please contact your Christian Educator or your Superintendent.
In addition to the Unity Undertaking at Ramallah, there are currently 7 areas of mission work known as New World Witness, being undertaken by the Moravian Church. These are supported by mission funds from Moravian congregations throughout the Unity. There are four other outreach efforts by Provinces.
Star Mountain Rehabilitation Centre
Star Mountain is a Unity Undertaking of the Moravian Church. It is located about 30 km north of Jerusalem and began in 1957 as a hospital for persons with leprosy. With the advance in health services in Palestine and the reduction in persons with leprosy it became necessary to change the focus of this Centre. Star Mountain then became a rehabilitation centre for persons with disabilities in 1980. It has catered largely to children and young couple. However, in 1977 the opening of the Agricultural Training Department has afforded adults with mental disability opportunity for rehabilitation and vocational training. Other programmes added in recent times include the Workshop for Art Therapy and vocational classes for adult women. The prevailing political and economic situation of Palestine has severely and adversely affected this work, yet the staff of Star Mountain perseveres.
The work in India began in the mid nineteenth century. Of great significance since 19~3 was the Moravian institute at Rajpur which provides technical and vocational training. Today there are congregations and schools in Ladakh, Rajpur and Assam. Buildings are still needed for some of these congregations, as well as other resources for the schools. The work has now spread to neighbouring Nepal where there is one congregation at Kathmandu. There are also plans to revive the mission to the Tibetan’s., Because of the expansion of the North India mission, Unity Synod 2002 has given it a new designation - The Moravian Church in South India.
The mission in French Guiana is in the initial stages. In 1999 a missionary couple was placed there with the task of exploring the possibilities and initiating the establishment of an indigenous United Protestant Church. There are 2 main areas of concentration for this work, but the geographical distances and the cultural differences are great. One area is the home of Surinamese Moravian Maroon immigrants; the other is composed of Protestant expatriates mainly from French countries. This work is continuing but needs more personnel and funding. The Moravian involvement is from the Surinamese Province and the European Continental Province.
Garifuna in Honduras
The Honduras Province has been reaching out to minister to the Ganfuna people within the Province. In addition to the work of evangelism and education, some outreach has been done in the area of health. Since 1997 the Province has extended this work to include the evangelistic activity in the Honduras Bay Islands. Financial resources continue to be needed to advance this work as it is not yet self-supporting.
The work in Albania is under the oversight of the European Continental Province. The first contact of the Moravian Church with Albania was in 1993. Since then one pastor has been travelling to Albania 3-4 times per year for periods of 4 - 6 weeks. One Albanian is currently studying Theology in Italy and is expected to become the first native pastor. Towards the end of 2001 a new missionary family moved to Albania to take charge of the mission. The main effort is in the capital, Tirana, where a building was bought in 2000. In addition to the congregation and other activities in Tirana, there are children’s clubs (Sunday Schools) in 9 other towns and several youth groups, Bible Study groups and women’s groups. These all meet in private homes or rented rooms.
BIRTHDAYS & ANNIVERSARIES
Birthday Greetings for November
Birthday greetings for November are extended to:
Birthday greetings for December
Birthday greetings for December are extended to:
Anniversary Greetings for December
Anniversary greetings for December arc extended to:
The Dunscombe congregation in Barbados celebrated its 142nd birthday in November. The pastor is Rev. Ezra Parris and the congregation currently has a membership of 126.
The New Herrnhut congregation on St. Thomas in the USVI Conference, celebrated its 265th birthday in December. The Pastor is Rev. Glenvil Gregory and the congregation currently has a membership of 662.
Whew! It’s a Boy!
We extend congratulations to Sis. Dorothea Rohde and her husband Claus-Martin Eckelmann on the birth of their son Jakob, who was born on December 06, 2002.