July 25, 2010

There has always been talk as to our Moravian Heritage. Some person’s think that we have strayed from what our forebears handed down to us and that we have adopted other traditions rather than holding dear to what is uniquely ours. On the other hand, there are those who believe that if the Moravian Church is going to survive in these times, it has to develop new and dynamic ways to share the gospel. I thought that it would be useful to give an insight into Moravian Heritage.


The heritage of the Moravians includes a liturgical form of worship which follows the tradition of the Church year. The Church provides a comprehensive litany for every festive occasion and for general worship. It is suggested that the Renewed Church with its ties to German Lutheranism, is more liturgical than the Bohemian Brethren seemed to have been. The Bohemian Brethren were closer to the Churches which followed Calvin’s more radical Protestantism. Yet the position of the Moravians under Zinzendorf created a strong tradition of simplicity in worship, the kind that would naturally develop in homes and meeting places other than the Church.

In the Herrnhut community, the center of so much that shaped the Moravian Church, worship for many years was both in the Bertlesdorf Lutheran Church and in the Saal or meeting hall of Herrnhut. They built their places of worship in the simple meeting house style of Herrnhut, usually with a plain communion table on the long side of the room. Originally, the Minister presided from the table, even preaching without a Pulpit.

In the years since the founding of Herrnhut, Moravian Churches have become more like other Protestant Churches in Architecture. A common arrangement is a centre pulpit with the common table at a lower level in front of it. However, whatever the changes of interior architecture in line with various trends, Moravians have tended to retain simplicity in there edifices and ways of worship.

The Church uses the common hymns sung everywhere but features the choral type of hymn, another mark of the Bohemian and German background. The communion table, the distribution of the elements by the Minister to the communicants as they remain in the pews, the uninterrupted singing of hymns, and the right hand of fellowship, all put the emphasis upon the fellowship aspect of the Lord’s Supper in the Moravian Church. Love feasts, consisting of the distribution and partaking of a simple meal in the Church during the singing of congregational hymns and choir anthems, are common in many congregations. This speaks to the love and fellowship; we ought to have for each other.