Paper Abstracts


Stadtpfeifers, the Trombone Choir in the Moravian Church, and Gregor’s Metric Hymn System

Nancy Beitel-Vessels, Moravian College

The Biblical connotations of the trombone and the origins of the Stadtpfeifers. The Trombone Choir in the daily life of the early Moravian Church and it’s use in fulfilling the church’s mission to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The Stadtpfeifers mission is still alive and vital in today’s Moravian Church through woodwind/brass groups which play for church festivals, death announcements, and funerals. Another living example is the Bethlehem Area Moravian Trombone Choir, the oldest musical organization in continuous operation in the United States.

Explaining Christian Gregor’s (the Father of Moravian Music) metric system of organizing church hymns. Demonstrating Gregor’s system with Johann Cruger’s chorale, “Now Thank We All Our God” with a group hymn- sing. Visual aides to reinforce presentation points.

Life Histories: Methodology and Tool for Moravian Biographies

Chris Brennan, Moravian College

“Life Histories: Methodology and Tool for Moravian College Biographies” is a project that Dr. Heikki Lempa and I have been working on since February of 2017. Our goal is to create a template for preparing, conducting, transcribing, preserving Moravian College life history interviews and displaying them online. The project started as a methodological exploration of two separate but closely related discourses: Oral history is common in historical research and life history is a popular methodology in sociology and anthropology. The current focus of the project is on local Moravian College alumni, emeriti professors, and retired staff members. I have conducted four case studies. For the academic year 2018-19, we are planning to expand the scope nationally and thereby conducting the interviews by using Zoom and other online video conferencing systems. In the third phase the project will become global including a system of training interviewers among the Moravian College students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The ultimate goal is to collect a large, constantly increasing body of interviews that will essentially create new materials for a history of Moravian College and also for a new historical self-understanding of the Moravian College community; instead of looking from outside in it is looking from inside out.

Moravian Church in Suriname: Zinzendorf, the two – State doctrine and the process of the mission in Suriname 1735-1940

Marilva Eiflaar, EBGS-Archive, Suriname

The origin of the Moravian Church in Suriname
On August 7, 1735 the brothers G. Piesch, G. Berwig and Christoph von Larisch traveled from Herrnhut with the instruction /mission of the Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf to ascertain in Suriname, whether there were among the Wilden (Indians) and Moors (Negroes) to win someone for the Savior. They arrived at the Fort Zeelandia1 in Surinam on December 20, 1735 The contact with the Surinamese society was laid by Brother Spangenberg commissioned by Count von Zinzendorf. He had told about Herrnhut and the Moravians. In doing so, he has cited 10 points that first had to be translated in the Netherlands. I mention two of these points as point 1 if enough space can be made available for the Moravians in Suriname to build a separate settlement, so that they can live together and maintain spiritual fellowship with each other. Furthermore, he held conversations with the directors of the Surinamese society asking Spangenberg what their line of thought was about the slaves. Thereupon he replied with the words “one must try to lead them to Christ, then to admonish them, to prove them faithfulness and diligence, and not to demand physical liberty, but to take gratitude if it were given to them.” Today we read this with an open mind. This responds or statement of Spangenberg’s can, on further analysis, be difficult to consume with the abolitionists and in this zeitgeist. Governor Joan Raye was in charge and wrote to the directors of the Societies in Amsterdam that he had sent the brothers to the Blauwe Berg (Bergendal) to work in a mine.

The missionaries came to Suriname in the midst of a tough society where slavery was in force. They also came with their traditions and customs they knew from their homeland. In preaching the gospel, they have also instructed or handed over their customs and habits to the converts, especially the Indigenous and the Slave-made.

In this paper we will look at how the missionaries dealt with the gospel proclamation as ordered by Zinzendorf and how they moved during slavery in Suriname. This will look at causes, consequences and facts. A lot of archive material or sources will also be used and other works (external sources) for a realistic view of this matter. In order to answer this question, the following points or sub-questions are cited.

a. The first location attempt of the missionaries
b. The situation in the Suriname colony during the mission of the missionaries
c. Zinzendorf, the assignment and Zinzendorf’s response to certain matters
d. Application of the assignment during the mission work in Suriname (pro- & contra)
e. Cause, consequence, facts
f. Overview of the accomplished present of the missionaries
g. Conclusion

– Op zoek naar de eerstelingen voor het Lam (1735-1818) – Anneli Volprecht
– Ons Suriname Steinberg 1933
– Strijders voor het Lam Maria Lenders 1996
– Twee rijken Leer van Luther Edgad Loswijk 2016

1 Fort Zeelandia The present Fort Zeelandia is a museum and tourist attraction, once it was a proud military stronghold, a prison and the headquarters of a military regime. The current name suggests that it was not the Dutch who laid the foundations for the fort, but the English settlers, led by Sir. (


Home Baptisms: A Traditional Practice of Graceham Moravian Church — 1881-1900

 Romero, Moravian Theological Seminary

Drawing on research done for the Roots Project at the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, PA this paper examines the unusually high proportion of baptisms performed by ministers of Graceham Moravian Church (Maryland, USA) in private homes, in the presence of family members instead of in the church in front of the congregation. At Graceham, 75% of baptisms in the 19th century took place in private homes even though the official baptismal liturgy and policy of the American Province of the Moravian Church discouraged home baptisms. In the field of Moravian Church history, several scholars have examined the sacrament of baptism theologically and liturgically, but there are few studies of actual practice involving case studies. The paper uses the registries of the Lititz and Philadelphia congregations (a settlement congregation and a city congregation, both in Pennsylvania, USA) for comparison. Graceham had a much higher percentage of home baptisms. The paper also investigates the notes from the Congregational Councils of Graceham for that time period, as well as the congregational diaries and memorabilia accounts to determine the reasons for home baptisms. This research serves as a foundation for further investigation of the actual baptism practices of the Moravian congregations in North America to determine what Moravians were actually doing, not just what the church said they should do.

“but a small piece fit for planting” A Microhistory of the Pachgatgoch Community’s and Moravian Missionaries’ Land Petitioning Efforts in Mid-18th Century Connecticut

Ann-Catherine Wilkening, Yale

This paper tells the story behind a land petition submitted by the Pachgatgoch community near Kent to the Assembly of Connecticut on April 12th, 1752, and exemplifies how a Native American community negotiated their land holdings through affiliation with Moravian missionaries. In colonial New England and beyond, Native peoples’ land petitions were a common attempt to secure some aspects of their economic systems and independence that had been severely compromised by settler colonialism. However, the daily records in Moravian mission diaries allow us to comprehend better the religious, social, and material circumstances, various actors’ motivations, and power dynamics that led a struggling Native community to engage with a group of ethnically and religiously minoritized German missionaries and ultimately to the drafting of the petition. The intermediation of missionaries, at least for a time, assisted Pachgatgoch survival in a rapidly changing environment. For the Moravians, their mission was an opportunity to help unfold what they perceived to be God’s plan of salvation. In approaching Native people as their brethren, they sometimes helped them regain control over their land, which they hoped would further the Patchgatgochs’ religious commitment to their form of Christianity. Yet, this is ultimately also a tale of estrangement, starvation, and loss. Moravian and Pachgatgoch engagement was entrenched with different goals that, in the long run, were not compatible and resulted in diverging paths which led the Pachgatgoch into a dark future. Yet, for a brief time their liaison brought hope to Pachgatgoch and Moravians alike.


Singing at the Clavichord: interpretative aspects in repertorie from Brødremenigheten in Christiansfeld

Christina Ekström and Joel Speerstra, University of Gothenburg

Focusing the 18th century, a well-known fact is that music played an important role in the Evangelische Brüder-Unität and to its piety. Significant ingredients were the reciprocal communication between what is felt and what is expressed in singing and in playing the instruments as well as the outspoken rules for musical performance for which softness was a key concept. Except for questions on musical performance, the musical aesthetics had bearing on instruments. Writing about the clavichord, Libin (2010) mentions that the Moravian Brethren, more than orthodox Lutherans, developed “an almost cult-like affinity for this gentle little instrument” (p. 233) and emphasizes that the nature of the clavichord was in line with the lofty emotional sensibility that underlies in the Herrnhuter piety.

This lecture-recital deals with the question whether the aesthetics in the Evangelische Brüder-Unität differ from or reflect contemporary art discourse. The scope will be problematized through musical performance of a selection of songs for one voice and clavichord, found in the archive in Brødremenigheden in Christiansfeld, Denmark. The repertoire consists of manuscripts by Herrnhuter sisters and of printed sources like Geistliche Oden und Lieder by Bach and Gellert. The paper arguments for that musical aesthetics in the Evangelische Brüder-Unität not only harmonized with contemporary art discourse but also constituted distinctives of its theology and piety.

Embedded in the research question are terms related to feelings/emotions. Being able to handle them a theoretical framework is needed that may offer robust vocabulary. Therefore we turn to the term “emotive”, proposed by Reddy (1997) coming from Austin’s Speech Act Theory where claims are divided into constative and performative. Reddy adds a third concept, emotive, that acknowledges that opinions which include emotions/feelings may work performatively and that they can have impact independent from the time and context in which they may occur.

A Clavichord in Bethlehem

Alissa Duryee, Conservatory of Dreux, France, with Emily Eagen, CUNY Graduate Center

Following a recent recording project involving the clavichord dated from 1759 in Gotha, conserved at Moravian College, I propose a lecture recital for the 6th Bethlehem Conference on Moravian History and Music.

The project (entitled ‘A Clavichord in Bethlehem’; recorded in October 2017 with postproduction currently in progress) features European keyboard works interspersed with works selected from soucres in the Moravian Archives of Bethlehem. Soprano Emily Eagen participated in two works, and Willard Martin assisted in preparing the instrument. A presentation was given to undergraduate students during the week of recording.

For the context of the Moravian Conference, I would modify the program of the CD to contain more Moravian music, and more vocal music. In keeping with my profile as performer and educator, it would be a commented performance and not a scholarly paper.

Depending on time allotted, I propose all or some of the following :

  • Dietrich Buxtehude : Praeludium and Fuga in g minor (9′)
  • A set of German language songs from sources in the Archives : ( 3- 10′) (1.19, 12.29, 12.30)
  • Johann Kuhnau : Second Biblical Sonata (Saul and David) (12′)
  • A set of devotional songs (English and German langage) from the Archives (3- 10′) (among sources 2.8, 8.12, 8.21, 12…)
  • John Moran : Variations on a Suabian Air (6 ‘)
  • Anonymous Moravian Sonata in d minor (4′) (source 3.2)
  • A set of English langage songs from the Archives (3- 10′) (sources 1.14, 1.10, 1.30)

The intent of the program would be to showcase :

  • issues related to ‘keyboard instrument specificity’
  • the roles of the clavichord in the musical life of eighteenth century Europe and North America -the specificities of the clavichord conserved at Moravian College
  • the pertinence of this clavichord and this repertoire


A Formative Moment: the Herrnhut Statutes of 1727

Paul Peucker, The Moravian Archives, Bethlehem

In traditional Moravian historiography, the experience of August 13, 1727, has been considered as the founding moment in the development of the Herrnhut community. Another moment, however, appears to have been more important at the time: the statutes or brotherly agreement of May 12, 1727. Only later did the August 13 experience become as significant.

In this paper I will examine the 1727 statutes and argue that these statutes were the founding document for the Herrnhut community and compare them to similar documents that Zinzendorf proposed for other religious groups in Berthelsdorf, Görlitz, Berleburg and Schwarzenau.

Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf in East Prussia

Inga Strungyte, Institute of Lithuanian Language

N.L.von Zinzendorf, the bishop of the Moravian Church and the founder of Brüdergemeine, had plans in East Prussia and sought to spread his religious mission there. He became actively engaged in this field at the time when F.A.Schultz, a Pietist from Königsberg, was the head of the University. The disagreements between Zinzendorf and Halle Pietists shaped the attitude of Pietists of the Faculty of Divinity at the Königsberg University. Although Zinzendorf succeeded to establish a small community in Königsberg in 1739, his activities were restricted. The edicts of King Friedrich II of Prussia, prohibiting private meetings, Erbauungsstunde, came out in 1742 and 1748. Zinzendorf came to Prussia again in 1744, but the visit did not yield expected results: he failed to establish closer ties with the academic community of the Faculty.

These historical facts is a testimony that Zinzendorfian hymns and hymn books of Brüdergemeines could not be recognized, at least at an official level, in East Prussia in the 18th century. The first time when a piece of work by Zinzendorf, the hymn “Herz and Herz vereint”, found its way into Königsberg church hymn book only in 1883. It should be pointed out that the penetration of Halle’s Pietist thinking is also noticeable in the repertoire of the Lithuanian church hymn books from East Prussia.

The first translations of Zinzendorf’s hymns into the Lithuanian language have been included in the unofficial hymn book of Fellowship Movement “Mazos giesmju knygeles” (1819), edited by the lay preacher of the Fellowship Movement – K.E.Mertikaitis (1775-1856?).

In the second half of the 19th century, writings favorably assessing the contribution of Zinzendorf and the activities of Brüdergemeines appear in Lithuanian religious periodicals; the repertoire of Fellowship Movement, as well as the church choir repertoire are being supplemented with translations of Zinzendorfian hymns.

‘Then she opened her mouth’: Moravian Female Missionaries and Evangelists in early America (1740-1760)

Jennifer Adams-Massmann, Jesus College, University of Cambridge

More than fifty years before British or American denominational mission societies began sending women ‘into the field’, Moravian women were traveling around the Atlantic world to ‘testify to what the blood and the wounds does for sinners.’ This diverse group of women included the American-born Jannetje Mack and Margarethe Jungmann who worked with Algonquian women and girls; or the Norwegian Anna Ramsberg, a traveling evangelist visiting single German women and girls in rural Pennsylvania; or the Mohican convert Esther, a helper in the missions who dreamed of evangelizing in the West Indies. Such early female missionaries had experienced ‘awakening’ and conversion in their teens or twenties during the transatlantic religious revivals of the 1730s and 40s, and were then recruited for mission work after joining the Moravians. Some worked among fellow European immigrants, others were sent to American Indian missions or to the Caribbean, while yet others were involved in aspects of mission to all three groups. Their ‘work for souls’ (Seelenarbeit) could involve leading liturgies, spiritual formation in small groups, preaching, pastoral care, school teaching, interpretation, relationship-building with Native American leaders, and other forms of cultural mediation.

Drawing on Moravian archival sources including memoirs, mission records, and travel diaries used for my dissertation research project, in this conference paper I will consider the activity, agency and impact of the first generation of women of the so-called “pilgrim congregation” of highly mobile missionaries and evangelists. I will argue they not only had an impact on women’s religious belief and practice but in the process forged unique trans-denominational and multi-ethnic religious networks across the ‘gender frontier’ of early America (K. Brown). Their stories are thus crucial not only to Moravian history, but also for rewriting the larger narratives of women’s leadership and network-building in the religious revivals of the Great Awakening.


James Montgomery, Theorist of Hymnody

Chris Phillips, Lafayette College

James Montgomery’s multi-faceted career included newspaper publishing, radical journalism, and abolitionist activism; he was one of the premier English poets of his generation, and his hymnody was and is widely sung in and beyond the Moravian church. Montgomery edited more than one collection of hymns as well, including one produced in Bethlehem in the 1840s. By that time, Montgomery had also developed one of the most thorough and influential theories of hymnody in the English language. With his rare standing as a poet and a hymnist of the first rank during his lifetime (he was often compared to William Cowper, who also shared this distinction), Montgomery made careful distinctions between the functions of the religious poem, the hymn, and the congregational hymn, considering the interplay between read texts and sung texts in believers’ experiences. He also was the one of the first major critical voices to take the venerable man of letters Samuel Johnson to task for rejecting devotional verse as inherently subliterary. From essays he wrote for collections such as The Christian Poet and The Christian Psalmist in the 1820s to the preface in his late Original Hymns, for Public, Private, and Social Devotion, Montgomery took seriously the aims of the poet and the needs of the worshiping church as few writers have done before or since. This paper offers an account of Montgomery’s thought on the nature of hymnody, particularly as it related to poetry, and considers his potential role in the new study of religious verse and hymnody now emerging in the wake of postsecular theory and the “religious turn” in literary and historical studies.

John Cennick 1718-1755

Robert Cotter, Queen’s University, Belfast, N. Ireland

In his tercentenary year I consider his impact on the eighteenth-century Revival. Often overlooked in an age replete with well-known and influential religious figures: George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, Count Zinzendorf, he becomes a respected colleague. His journey from failed apprentice to master preacher, is one of dedication and zeal, of self-discovery and self-realization. It is also one of opportunities seized, of initiation into a movement of religious ferment which stretched from Moravia to Massachusetts, from London to Londonderry.

Born in Reading, brought up as an Anglican, he emerges to seek a role in the Revival which his mentors have been nurturing both at the centre and on the margins. In the sprawling metropolis of London myriad religious groups from the continent pass through, seeking passage to the New World. Prominent among these earnest new arrivals are Moravians, catalysts of Revival, role models for Methodists, disciples of Count Zinzendorf. Cennick learns from all, reaches out to all, making his mark amongst the new industrial proletariat around Bristol, as well as the urban Irish in Dublin, galvanising the rural Irish in County Antrim and adjacent counties.

For this paper I have read Cennick’s account of his visit to the Moravian centre at Marienborn in 1746. In itself, this is a unique document which gives gereral insights into a range of matters of historical interest, In the Herrnhut Archives I also uncovered original letters by Cennick to Zinzendorf on a range of issues during his time in Ireland. They provide a much more nuanced view of the reasons behind a number of Cennick’s perplexing decisions in the last five years of his life.


Impossible Views: Re-Viewing Garrison

Scott Gordon, Lehigh University

Few if any eighteenth-century American towns left as rich a visual record of drawings, maps, and views as Bethlehem. Nicholas Garrison’s “View of Bethlehem” (1757) is the most famous of these views—treated by historians as self-evident, requiring no explanation, a perspective view of Bethlehem from the south side of the Lehigh River. But Garrison’s drawings, this paper argues, are far from self-evident, in part because they have little commitment to perspective. Indeed, Garrison often deposits different views with different perspectives into a single landscape, thus producing a “View” that no human eye could have seen. This technique makes Garrison’s views more like the medieval paintings that, ignoring perspective, depict items on the basis of the relations between them (a figure might be large, that is, not because it is closer to the viewer relative to a vanishing point but because it is the most important figure in the frame).

We have a conspicuous Moravian exemplar of such non-perspectival representation: the “Settlement Scene,” which gathers more than sixty disparate “views” into a common “imagined” Moravian landscape. Garrison’s drawings, despite their illusion of realism and perspective, do the same thing. His 1756 view of Christiansbrunn and Gnadenthal places two settlements in a proximity that they do not occupy—which eighteenth-century Moravians knew but modern viewers have forgotten. Garrison’s 1761 view of Nazareth impossibly gathers three frontal views (of Nazareth Hall, the Whitefield House, and Nazareth plantation) into a single landscape: no vantage point could yield the “view” that Garrison produced. And his most famous “View of Bethlehem” follows the same practice. The image’s primary goal (to represent, it seems, the front elevation of every building) takes precedence over any effort to reproduce faithfully a specific perspective from the Lehigh River’s south side.

Moravian Space and Place: Mapping Bethlehem in Colonial America

Mark Sciuchetti, Florida State University

This paper explores the important role that mapmakers played in early Moravian settlements in colonial America. Cartographers such as Nicholas Garrison, Andrew Hoeger, Philip Christian Gottlieb Reuter, and George W. Golkowsky, helped to establish Moravian spatial and communal identity through their highly skilled cartographic work. Their representations of topography, flora, hydrology, and mission structures, which are preserved in meticulous sketches, maps, and drawings, were used not only by the Moravians, but also by the nascent Pennsylvania colonial government. Their works contributed to the establishment of a sense of Moravian identity and community, in addition to the demarcation of geographic and legal borders and patterns of land-use. In this paper, I will discuss the cartographic methods and skills employed by Moravian mapmakers to generate highly accurate representations of space and place, and how these artists depicted the landscape that surrounded their communities. Their meticulous attention to detail allows modern researchers to geo-rectify Moravian maps created in the 1700s against contemporary maps generated through satellite imagery to reveal details about the development and maintenance of the Moravian communities in North America. Through an examination of the works of Garrison, Hoeger, Reuter, and Golkowsky, I will explore the connections between the maps and drawings of Moravian cartographers and the Moravian spatial world-view. I will then consider how the work of eighteenth-century Moravian cartographers enables present-day scholarship by demonstrating the process of geo-rectifying historic Moravian maps to understand how these works can be used for spatial analysis and study. Moravian maps are an extremely important component of research into the history of Moravian communities and concepts of space and place, however this field of study has so far received little attention. It is the aim of my paper to encourage and demonstrate how further scholarship might proceed in this important area of geographic study.

The Global Tradition of Moravian Church Architecture 1724-2014

Peter Vogt, Moravian Church in Germany

This paper is intended as a presentation with pictures (Power Point), addressing the question of historical development and geographic expansion of the architectural tradition of Moravian sanctuaries. In particular, I want to argue the following points: (1) there is a distinctive Moravian architectural tradition as regards the Moravian church buildings, (2) this tradition corresponds to the Moravian view of worship and their self-understanding as a religious community, (3) the development of the Moravian building style was a two-step process, starting with the “Gemeinhaus”-model, which was then transformed to the “Betsaal”-model, (4) the Moravian sanctuary at Herrnhut 1757 represents the first fully established example of a Moravian “Betsaal”, (5) the distinctive style of Moravian church architecture is a global tradition, as it was implemented in numerous Moravian sanctuaries in Europe and North America, as well as on the mission fields, reaching from Labrador to South Africa.

My presentation is based on a large collection of drawings and pictures of Moravian church buildings, and other pertinent material. Specifically, it includes historic photographs of several Moravian sanctuaries that no longer exists, due to the destruction of WW II. It also includes pictures of recent Moravian sanctuaries in Europe that express the distinct architectural tradition in a modern way.


“He accepted his wife as his mentor”. Gender and work among the Mission of the Moravian Church in Colonial Suriname (18th and early 19th Century)

Jessica Cronshagen, Oldenburg University

The missionary Magdalena Burchart was an indispensable woman in the Surinamese Arawak mission in the 1780th. She was a preacher, a teacher, an expert on the difficult language of the Arawak and well involved in the Moravian trade network. As her husband died in 1785, the Moravian leadership made an unusual decision: Magdalena Burchart should not, like it was common for widows, go back to Europe. She had to stay and remarry as soon as possible. The prospected missionary Felix Gutherz was selected as her new husband. In the following, the couple reported about their relationship: Felix Gutherz described the difficulties to live in Suriname without a clear task, “helping her to keep the household”. But finally, as the preases of Paramaribo mentioned, he “accepted his wife as his mentor”.

A self-assured Moravian woman was not uncommon in the 18th Century Moravian Church. Many female members of the Moravian church used to be trained in a craft, they ruled their own households in the sister choirs, and they played an important role in the mission.

However, there was no sister -choir in Suriname. The couples used to life in nuclear families under the leadership of a paterfamilias. Female missionaries from Paramaribo worked in shops or as tailors, a letter from 1795 refers to the “strong female Jesus”. But simultaneously they complained in letters about the pressure to become pregnant and establish an “own household”. In 1789, the Brethren of an outpost called for female missionaries to “wash their shirts”.

The aim of this paper is to show, how the division of labour diverged due to the specific setting a missionary couple faced. The interaction of Moravian ideals, colonial hierarchies and daily practices led to the creation of local discourses which became new role options in the global Moravian network.

The Beginning of the Moravian Church in Western Tanzania

Wilson Nkumba, Moravian Church in Surinam

I intend to write this title in order to provide historical details on how the Moravian church in western Tanzania (MCWT) began. Many people know much about MCWT, but little about her beginning. Thus, one of the objectives of this paper will be to explain how this province started.

Officially it is recognized that the beginning of the MCWT is 1897. But before MCWT began, there was a mission work which was performed by the London Missionary Society (L.M.S). This work was performed for 17 years without any success.

Due to this, L.M.S concluded to close down her mission station. After the decision, the emerged question was whom their going to hand over their properties (buildings, schools and clinics). The resolution was to write a letter to Herrnhut to ask the Moravians to come and take over.

1897 Rudolf Stern was sent from Herrnhut to Tanzania to substitute L.M.S. he is the first Moravian missionary and the answer to the L.M.S’s request.

Generally, when we think about the beginning of MCWT, the picture which is depicted it is like two sides of a coin. The first side, is similar to the adopted child. Because the idea of establishing a mission in this area was not originated by the Moravians, but it was adopted.

Secondly, MCWT is a product of ecumenical joint efforts of two missionary societies’ from different historical backgrounds, worked together similarly to the relay team with a baton. Their goal was to fulfill the great commission.
Basically the second goal of this paper will be to describe the challenges that hindered the L.M.S’s success. The third goal will be to explain how did the Moravians succeeded to establish the church, what were so special with their approach in evangelizing?

Moravian Bishop Hans Peter Hallbeck’s role in the beginnings of South African historiography

Pieter Boon, Jonathan Edwards Centre, University of the Free State, South Africa

Moravian missionaries in different parts of the world often stood at the cradle of the development of written languages and the translation of the Bible in those languages. Moreover, in South Africa there is evidence that they were even involved in the beginnings of a written historiography of the country.

Until present it remains a controversial undertaking for historians in post-colonial countries to endeavor writing the history of their country. So often historiography has become entangled in political or ideological systems, trying to impose their vision on the past, in the pursuit of interests in the present. In South Africa it was and is no different.

This paper investigates the beginnings of historiography in South African history. The focus is specifically on the attempts of people who resided permanently in South Africa, and not on the journals of European travelers and adventurers. From the 1820’s onward one can discern the beginning of a process endeavoring to describe the first two centuries of colonial history. Already by then there was little agreement about how to weigh what happened in the past.

This paper selects three historiographers, each representing different interests in their own times:

  • John Philip (1775-1851), superintendent of the London Missionary Society in South Africa.
  • Meent Borcherds (1762-1832), pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church at Stellenbosch.
  • Hans Peter Hallbeck (1784-1840), bishop and superintendent of the Moravian missions in South Africa.

These three can be regarded as among the first local historiographers of South African history. Their diverging descriptions of the first two centuries of colonial history are compared. This comparison leads to interesting conclusions, quite relevant to the present.


The Lost Ecumenical Truths

Brent Thorn, Tyler Junior College

What did Zinzendorf believe about non-Europeans that others did not? What made his missionary efforts successful when others failed? And, what was it about Moravian missionary methods that built bridges to other denominations, effectually creating the first ecumenical network?

I propose that Zinzendorf’s eclectic blend of Pietistic theology, Enlightenment Anthropology, and Moravian communalism produced an eclectic worldview that compelled the eighteenth-century European evangelical church to extend the reach of the gospel message to the furthest ends of the earth.

The ecumenical truths found in Moravian mission theology can be organized into three categories. Zinzendorf believed a universal Christian Church was encased in every denomination where the essential gospel message existed underneath the various ecumenical differences. He believed that an anthropological unity existed despite outward cultural variations. Finally, he believed that a categorical mission method could communicate the core gospel message globally. However, the least explored category may be those missional ideals that center on anthropological unity and the qualities that all of humanity intrinsically possess. This philosophical light directed the efforts of Moravians to engage other cultures, whereby the universal nature of the gospel could be communicated using the sociological variations found worldwide. Many scholars indiscriminately equate European missions and imperialism when discussing Western missionary history. However true this may be for the state-supported liturgical churches, this is expressly false with regards to the non-conformists in general and the Moravians specifically. The initial barriers to mission efforts were found in Calvinistic theology and its deterministic worldview that led to a reluctance to explore the Church’s responsibility in ushering in the expected millennial age. Yet, the eighteenth century brought about an optimism regarding human nature that Moravian piety leveraged into a missionary force consisting of Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and many other evangelical clergy.

Moors, Malabars, and Gypsies: Rhetoric and perceptions of racial difference in 18th century Moravian communities

Josef Koestlbauer, University of Bremen

On a Sunday afternoon in December 1742, a remarkable meeting took place in the sisters’ house in Herrnhaag. There, a group of people came together to celebrate a “moors’ love feast”. The German term “Mohr” usually denoted someone of African descent. Some of the “moors” in attendance on that day hailed from the West Indies, others from North America or Africa. But also present were a Malabar, a Tatar, and a German Sinto. Obviously other, more or less consciously applied qualifications played a role such as skin colour, and biblical or secular mythologies.

The legal and social status of non-Europeans brought into Moravian communities was ambiguous. The lives of some of these individuals are well known (e.g. Sensbach 2006) and those brought to Germany are the subject of an authoritative essay by Paul Peucker (2007).

The proposed paper uses incongruities such as the one described above to take a new look at the rhetoric of racial difference, which shaped perceptions and attitudes of Europeans and non-Europeans alike. Drawing on preliminary results of a research project on Slavery in the 18th century Holy Roman Empire at the University of Bremen, it also asks how these related to the practices and discourse of slavery and slave trade. The presence of non-Europeans in Moravian communities demonstrated that slavery and its consequences were reaching into places and situations far removed from the Atlantic basin. Furthermore, Moravians constantly travelled between the spheres of Atlantic and East Indian slavery and Europe. Therefore the Moravians’ communities may very well be characterized as hinterlands of slavery (Brahm/Rosenhaft 2016) in both a physical and metaphorical sense. At the same time the lives of many of these individuals also reveal the multiplicity and mutability of slavery in eighteenth century Europe and its overlaps with other forms of dependency.

Spiritual Discourses: Early Nineteenth Century Moravians and Cherokees Challenge Each Other About Ancient Beliefs

Rowena McClinton, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

Two disparate cultures, Moravians, a Christian group from Central Europe, and Cherokees, a southeastern tribe, interacted for over three decades in the early nineteenth century. In addition to evangelizing Cherokees, Moravian missionaries taught Cherokee offspring English, not German, and other relevant western topics such as geography and arithmetic. Centrally located in the Cherokee Nation on the Federal Road, the main road from Augusta to Nashville, Springplace Mission served as a welcoming center for all visitors, in particular the relatives of students attending the mission school. When the Moravians entered the Cherokee Nation, they had commonalities, though inadvertently; both revered the female gender.

As was custom with Moravian women, they displayed in the mission a picture of the Virgin Mary. One Cherokee visitor, The Flea, the grandfather of mission pupil Dick, became fixated on the picture of the Virgin Mary and related to Anna Rosina Gambold, principal female missionary, from 1802 to 1821, his spiritual world view about his creator: “God appeared to him as a youth in a dream…He was wearing silver, very brightly, gleaming clothes….” Cherokee interest in Moravian world view provoked spiritual discourses. This presentation emphasizes why Moravian presence reinforced Cherokee ancient beliefs and practices and led to spiritual discourses between two disparate cultures.


Führer, We Follow You! instead of Jesus Still Lead On? The German Moravian Church in the “Third Reich”

Hans-Beat Motel, Moravian Church of Königsfeld

There was much enthusiasm in the German Moravian congregations for Adolf Hitler and his political Ideas. Not only „Germany first“, but „Germany alone“ became the guideline which strongly influenced and determined also the life of the Moravian Church.

How was this possible? Which were the reasons for the admiration of this arrogance and aberration, which finally led into the disaster of World War II and the genocide of most of the European Jewish population? What do we have to learn out of this wrong, uncritical alliance of Christian faith and nationalistic, atheistic ideology?

The paper gives examples how the Nazi ideology influenced the German Moravian Church life in the nineteen thirties; it tries to find answers to these still relevant questions.

Evolution or Necessity? The Admittance of Women to the Easter Band

Donna Rothrock, Salem College

War is ugly. Although perceived to be necessary at times, there is nothing glamourous about it. Sometimes, however, something good evolves from something that is not so good. One such instance occurred during the United States’ involvement in World War II (1941-45) and served to expedite a long awaited evolution that would change the face of Moravian instrumental music forever in the south. That change came in 1943 when, with many of the male musicians serving in the armed forces, women were, once again, called upon to fill the vacancies left by those men so that traditions could continue. More specifically, women were finally invited to participate in the Easter Band.

The use of instruments in the Easter Sunrise Service in North Carolina dates to the latter half of the eighteenth century. From then up to the early 1940s, the actual tradition changed little although the service grew in size—both in number of participants and attendees—with 400 instrumentalists in 1940. That number decreased significantly during the early war years, thus providing the incentive necessary to allow women instrumentalists to participate. While women had been regular participants in their local church bands around the city for a number of years, they had not been allowed to play with the massed band for the Easter service in Salem. This opportunity, borne of necessity, opened the door for women to participate fully in the instrumental traditions of the church.
After background on the development of the Easter Band to 1943, questions to be addressed include:

  1. Why were women excluded?
  2. Who were the first women to participate?
  3. How long did they participate?
  4. How are women participating today?
  5. What would today’s band look like without the participation of women?

The Status and the Role of Women in the Moravian Church in Tanzania

Mary Kategile, Teofilo Kisanji University

The Moravian Church in Africa and specifically in Tanzania is growing very fast numerically and spiritually as well. This growth has been a result of the evangelical work done by all members of the church. Women groups have been in frontline in evangelism which results to the growth that we see today. Moravian women have been active in the church from the very beginning when the gospel arrived in this country. The Moravian Missionaries wherever they went their mission was a holistic one. That is why their work of preaching the gospel went simultaneously with health, education and other services. Women were one among other groups within the Moravian Church who received biblical teachings, sewing and caring for their families ect. Despite their endless labor in their homes and farming, their commitment in the growth and sustainability of the church cannot go unnoticed. There are many women who do not possess the formal education but use their gifts and talents for the church. When it comes to family and church economy women contribute a lot to the sustainability of the church and their families. Women contribute to the income of the church through agricultural work, small businesses, and employment. The purpose of this paper is to discuss from historical pint of view the role of Moravian women in economic sustainability of the church and her growth. Examine the nature and variety of their participation in church economic projects and analyze the operation of leadership in women economic related projects and finally, to explore ways to help women’s contribution towards church growth to be recognized in the church.


Revitalizing the Caribbean Record: A Discussion of the Work and Humanities Values of the Eastern West Indies Collection

Thomas McCullough, The Moravian Archives, Bethlehem

From 2014 to the present, the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem (MAB) has addressed poor access and physical conditions of its Eastern West Indies Collection (EWI), a 120-linear foot collection of records from Moravian congregations in the Caribbean region. The fragile records, transferred to Bethlehem in the 1960s and 1970s, are now in the process of being conserved and digitized, thanks to generous grants in 2018 from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). A selection of these records – documenting Moravian life and worship in St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John, Trinidad, Tobago, Dominican Republic, Antigua and St. Kitts – are soon to be accessible online through the Digital Library of the Caribbean. Perhaps owing to limited access conditions, the EWI Collection constitutes a significant but underutilized source body of minutes, correspondence, personnel records, membership records, diaries, school records, linguistic materials, memoirs, and finances. The coinciding conservation and digitization projects warranted improved understandings and descriptions of such records by MAB archivists. During this time, unique opportunities were discovered and considered for researchers working in the fields of Caribbean studies, Moravian studies, and digital humanities. Using unique examples from the Collection, this paper aims to encourage new scholarship and start a conversation with scholars about future opportunities, namely “Citizen Science” crowdsourcing projects, made possible through the 16,814+ images soon to be freely accessible online.

HiddenTown Project

Franklin Vagnone, Old Salem Museums and Gardens

Although of great debate within the Moravian community, the practice of slavery slowly increased, even against the town’s regulations. At its height, there were approximately 16o enslaved men, women, and children in Salem. Some lived in their owner’s homes while others lived in about 40 slave dwellings in town. Following the Civil War, freedmen established the first school for black children in the county and established a neighborhood across Salem Creek, now called “Happy Hill.”

Through continued research, Old Salem, Inc. has worked to understand the story and people of Salem. These histories involve the complicated use of enslaved populations in building the town and contributing to the mercantile prosperity of Salem. This narrative is the focus of a new initiative by Old Salem Museums & Gardens to reveal the history of a hidden town of African enslaved and freedman people living in Salem—where they lived, worked, and who they were as human beings. The first goal is to locate the sites of dwelling places of enslaved people throughout the historic district and to archaeologically investigate the sites to fully integrate them into the visitor experience. The second goal is to connect with descendants of the Salem enslaved population.

Mary Prince, Moravian

Jon Sensbach, University of Florida

In the canon of ex-slave narratives, The History of Mary Prince (1831) holds an exalted place as the first such autobiography by a woman. The author, Caribbean native Mary Prince, escaped to freedom in England in 1826 and recounted her story to an antislavery society, helping to galvanize the movement that would result in British emancipation in 1834. Like many autobiographies by former slaves, The History is also a religious narrative, structuring Prince’s life as the intertwining of physical liberation and emancipation from sin through Christianity, which in her case came via membership in the Moravian Church in Antigua. Because of the fame of her narrative, Mary Prince is probably the best-known person of African descent in the history of the Moravian Church, yet, surprisingly, scholars have never studied this aspect of her life story. This paper, based on seldom-used manuscripts in the East West Indies Collection of the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, situates the public religious persona Prince projected in her memoir within the ritual world of the mission and in the Caribbean plantation system. Documents reveal a far more complex web of spirituality, both inside and outside the church, that Prince’s narrative strategically concealed. As home to a large population of enslaved Africans, early nineteenth-century Antigua was the site of intense struggle over Christianity that emerges in the records. African-derived folk practices flourished alongside and within Christian worship. Congregants consulted African spiritual adepts and constantly flouted church regulations. Prince was engulfed in a multi-layered religious culture at odds with her providential narrative of redemption. Untapped archival evidence points toward a new examination of African encounters with Moravianism in the Caribbean and a fresh reading of The History of Mary Prince.

Responsibility and Local Decision Making in the Moravian Mission on St. Thomas, 1740-1763

Frank Marquardt, University of Oldenburg, Germany

“My dear heart, […] all the brothers and sisters left in this mission ask for your repeated visit and help, we need you,”

This call for support was sent from the Moravian mission station on St. Thomas to the mission department in Bethlehem in 1761. Appeals like this were sent regularly to leading figures like Johannes von Watteville, Nathanael Seidel or August Spangenberg who watched over the mission activities in the Danish West-Indies. The missionaries were depending on the help of the mission authorities in Bethlehem. Gisela Mettele and Hermann Wellenreuther strikingly showed the influence of this central administration on the remote diaspora and mission communities, despite the long and difficult mailing routes. Building permissions, finance issues and basically any other major decision was made after consulting their superiors.

As shown above, however, not every problem could be solved via letter correspondence. Complex situations, as well as many disputes in everyday matters, needed to be regulated on site and quickly. In this paper I will focus on the missionaries’ local decision making processes as well as methods of solving personal disputes amongst themselves. What can be said about the agency of female missionaries in these processes? What practices were involved to keep the mission functional? To give an example: In angry letter, Spangenberg complains about the misuse of lots: “Dear heart, would it not be good if you got along with each other, and stop using the lot for private matters. […] Otherwise I fear that the results might lead to conflicts.” Efforts like this indicate the missionaries’ desperate need to find local solutions for their disputes. Referring to Elizabeth Sommer’s study on the community in Salem, I will also analyze whether the missionaries’ need to solve problems locally, evoked “senses of otherness” amongst the West-Indian community.


Toward a Comprehensive Survey of Musical Instruments in Moravian Collections in America

Stewart Carter, Wake Forest University

The Moravian Brethren in America have an impressive legacy of historical musical instruments. Three checklists of individual collections exist, but a comprehensive catalog of historical instruments in Moravian collections in America has never been attempted. The objectives of my paper are to (1) identify all the collections of Moravian instruments in America, both formal and informal; (2) identify the most important items in these collections; and (3) show how these instruments reflect Moravian religious and cultural practices.

There are eight Moravian-related collections of musical instruments in the eastern United States. These include a few well-established and well-organized institutions, such as the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth, Pennsylvania; the Moravian Museum in Bethlehem; and Old Salem, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Less formal collections survive in a few Moravian churches.

Among individual items, of particular significance are the organs of Moravian craftsman David Tannenberg, which survive in some collections as well as in Moravian and non-Moravian churches. John Heckewelder Moravian Church in Gnadenhutten, Ohio, owns an important collection of early trombones, including the oldest surviving bass trombone in the western hemisphere. The Moravian Historical Society holds a clavichord by Tannenberg, the earliest surviving instrument of its type made in America.

Instruments in these collections strongly reflect Moravian religion and culture. Approximately fifty surviving trombones made before 1900 remind us that in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, many Moravian congregations had a trombone ensemble, the principal function of which was to support the singing of chorales. Tannenberg’s organs remind us that the Moravians had little interest in elaborate organ music; his organs were designed principally for the accompaniment of congregational singing and church anthems.

Halfway Between Oratorio and Opera: Early Moravians Love of Sacred Dramatic Music

Barbara Strauss, Moravian Music Foundation

Imagine being in the Moravian settlement of Nazareth, Pennsylvania during January and February, 1797. The weekly concerts at the Nazareth Paedagogium included selections from Handel’s Messiah, symphonies by Haydn, Eichner, Pleyel and Stamitz, Rolle’s Thirza und ihre Söhne (divided over three weeks), Haydn’s Stabat Mater (divided over two weeks) and the first section of Graun’s Der Tod Jesu. This schedule of performances were recorded in the Verzeichniss derer Musicalien welche im Concert sind gemacht worden, Nazareth, Pennsylvania, 1796 zum 1845.

The early Moravians loved sacred dramatic music (musikalishes Drama). How do we know? Through the evidence in the Register of Music Performed and the working collections of printed and manuscript scores and parts left behind.

This paper will explore the components of sacred dramatic music — both textually and musically; identify the context in northeastern Germany as transplanted to America; survey the repertoire found in Moravian Music Foundation collections in America and listen to excerpts of the music.

The Kummers’ Manuscript Books and Bound Volumes: A Window on Young Women’s Music Education at the Moravian Young Ladies’ Seminary from the 1830s to the 1850s

Jewel Smith, University of Cincinnati

Kummer sisters Caroline, Sophia, and Agnes attended the Moravian Young Ladies’ Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, from the 1830s to the 1850s. These young women studied piano and became accomplished musicians during their years at the Seminary. Compositions for piano solo, voice with piano accompaniment, and piano duets, in addition to some hymn tunes and theory exercises comprise the contents of their manuscript books and bound volumes. Most of the music requires a high level of technical proficiency, representing a wide variety of genres—serenatas, sets of variations, fantaisies, waltzes, marches, airs, bagatelles, and nocturnes—the same literature performed in European salons and on the concert stage. Although some of the composers’ names are missing in the manuscript books, those represented, along with those in the bound volumes, indicate that Seminary students played current literature by European and American composers. An examination of the Kummer collection reveals the high level of artistic instruction offered at the Seminary, the music for serious students, and the importance of music in a renowned institution of women’s higher education.


Little Sinners Praise the Little Lamb With Their Little Hymnal: A Linguistic Analysis of the Saron Büchlein and Its Relevance for the Moravian Settlers in North Carolina

Riddick Weber, Moravian Theological Seminary

“In the evening we began to read the small Hymn Book, and will continue it each evening.”
Bethabara Diary, January 3, 1754

The opening quotation comes from Adelaide Fries’ edited translations of the diaries, The Records of the Moravians in North Carolina. Fries’ translation is acceptable, but not revealing. Her translation does not point out that “small Hymn Book” read by the Single Brothers two months after their arrival in the backwoods of North Carolina was Der Gesang des Reigens zu Saron als des kleinen Bruedergesangbuchs, or the Saron Buchlein. Officially published in in 1754, this was the first hymnal published after the Sifting Period. The entry leads to several questions: how could the Moravians in North Carolina having been using the Saron Buchlein on January 3? More importantly, what were the contents of this little book, or phrased more pointedly, what does this book confirm as remaining as part of the Moravian “orthodoxy” after the problems of the Sifting Period had been winnowed out?

Linguistic analysis of the Saron Buchlein confirms many of Paul Peucker’s assertions about the linguistic issues involved in the Sifting Period as well as his historiographical critiques of previous discussions of the Sifting Period. Most of all, however, the Saron Buchlein reveals Moravian linguistic and theological innovations that remained acceptable for the church as a whole, and offers glimpses into the theological and liturgical underpinnings of the last North American community planned during the lifetime of the Zinzendorfs—the foundations of their Utopia.

A Call for Transcription of The Salem Diary of 1817

Grant McAllister, Wake Forest University

On October 31, 1817 the Salem congregation celebrated the 300th anniversary of Luther’s posting of his 95 theses. It was the first opportunity the renewed church could celebrate the fruits of Luther’s work openly and freely. In fact the ability to practice their religion without fear is the stated reason for their celebration: “…the Unity of Brethren have also enjoyed the blessings that issued forth from [Luther’s Reformation], and with gratitude extended toward God our Lord we now rejoice in the total freedom of faith and that we may edify ourselves with the word of God without fear” (my translation). In 2017 we mark the 500th anniversary of this event and recall Luther’s writings, teachings, contributions to the development of the German language, and especially the reformation that forever altered the religious map of the world. Discovering how the Salem congregation celebrated the anniversary and viewed the reformation is certainly an interesting prospect. However, doing so via primary sources like reading the Salem diary is largely impossible because the diary is untranscribed.

Even though Adelaide Fries translated much of the Salem Diary from German into English, she did not translate every entry. In fact, she translated less than one quarter of the diary. Additionally, it is almost entirely inaccessible to those unable to read German script. Thus, the entire diary of the Salem Congregation lies fallow. Figuratively and literally it has no voice, no afterlife that a reading would provide. In my study I argue this runs counter to the purpose of writing within Moravian communities. Several Moravian poems illustrate the centrality of writing and reading which holds an almost communion-like function. I argue the diary constitutes a living document that is intended to be read by a reader—in this case a type of communicant, sharing in the life of the congregation.

Φῶς ἱλαρόν / Phos hilaron / Thou lightsome day, the joyful Shine: The Byzantine Texts in Zinzendorf’s Liturgy Book of 1757

Olaf Nippe, Unity Archives, Herrnhut

In 1757, Count Zinzendorf published his last and most extensive liturgy book for use in the Moravian Church; the English translation was published in London in 1759. The most remarkable addition, compared to the previous edition of 1755, is a chapter in the first section of the book (“Litanies of the Ancient Church”) entitled “Hymns from the Greek Church”, containing nearly fifty texts in verse and prose, of different length and different origin with regard to their original liturgical purpose.

The compilation and publication of this liturgy book, intended for practical liturgical use, was the first attempt by a Protestant church to incorporate liturgical texts from the Eastern Orthodox churches into its own liturgical tradition.

This paper will first describe which Byzantine texts were selected, which sources were used and how the translation for the liturgy book was done, reconstructing these processes based on a manuscript held in the Unity Archives.

Secondly, the paper will show how the texts were then arranged in the liturgy book and used creatively for the very specific liturgical purposes of Zinzendorf and the Moravian Church at the time. Finally, a discussion of whether this interesting liturgical and ecumenical experiment left any traces in the liturgical tradition of the Moravian Church will follow.


The Gnadenhütten Massacre: Song, Death, and Violence on the American Frontier

Sarah Eyerly, Florida State University

On 8 March, 1782, in the mission village of Gnadenhütten, established by the Moravian church along the Tuscarawas river in the Ohio Country, 96 Delaware and Mohican Christians sang hymns as they were murdered at the hands of 160 Pennsylvania militiamen. Despite the multiple horrors enacted that day, it was the singing of the Moravian Indians that lingered most powerfully in subsequent stories and histories of the massacre. Moravian church historians have long argued that the singing of the Indian congregation during their final hours was definitive proof of their conversion to Christianity, since this was a common practice in German Moravian communities at the point of death. What many church historians as well as outside scholars have failed to recognize in the singing of the Indian congregation at Gnadenhütten was the presence of an indigenized Christianity–a Delaware and Mohican Christianity articulated through song. By singing, not only had the Moravian Indians realized the German Moravian ideal of a spiritual death, but their songs had constituted their determination to keep their Indian identity. For Eastern Woodlands people, to have one’s song broken by torture or punishment meant losing one’s self. To sing in the face of impending death was to defy the Pennsylvania militiamen who brought such tremendous destruction and horror upon their community. While Moravian missionaries may have simply desired to preach the Gospel through their own particular style of sung Christian community articulated through hymnody, the process of becoming Moravian had allowed Indian Christians considerable space to develop indigenized forms of Christianity and music-making. Yet, it may have been the hybridity of these practices that ultimately rendered them as outsiders to both European Christian communities and Native communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and therefore particularly vulnerable to violence.

The grim realities of the massacre at Gnadenhütten demand a careful examination of the dichotomies between the Moravian mission agenda and the ultimate fate of the Moravian Indian congregation. Had Moravian hymn singing created a meaningful mode of indigenized Christian practice, or had it simply constituted another form of sonic colonization?

Didactic Hymnody and Indigenous Translation

James Owen, University of Georgia

Moravian missions constituted an international network by the mid-eighteenth century, developing missionary education techniques through centralized information sharing based in four major centers at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Salem, North Carolina; London, England, and Hernhut, Germany. Using primary sources from Moravian archives in the US and Europe, this research explores the practice of hymn-singing and translation at missions in the “wilderness” of southeastern North America and the Caribbean, sites at least several-days-travel from these four Moravian centers. Drawing on handwritten and printed hymnbooks, mission diaries, missionary instruction books, letters, and sermons, conclusions here assert an active and important role for non-Europeans in the development of Moravian hymnody and worship through the 1840s. Using Arawak, Cherokee, and West Jamaican Patois translations of two didactic hymns commonly sung at distant missions, Come, Holy Spirit and The Litany of the Wounds, this paper looks at the emphasis on community as central to Christian faith, the distinctions of Moravian worship in the eighteenth century, and how these missions presented an opportunity for marginalized peoples to participate in an Atlantic world identity. The hymn-texts themselves promote a self-awareness about group formation that facilitated multi-racial, multi-ethnic communities on Christian frontiers. At the same time, the collaborative processes of translation and interpretation often transformed the content of hymn texts to present more culturally relevant understandings of the Holy Spirit and communal singing. The participation of indigenous and creole cultures in the translation and dissemination of Christian teachings generated unique variations of singing practice and worship as non-European conceptions and traditions were applied in the adoption, adaptation, and rejection of particular aspects of Moravian teachings. Furthermore, surviving hymn translations from frontier Moravian missions serve as touchstones for language revitalization programs in the twenty-first century.


Moravian Memoirs: A sense of Self amidst competing Communities

J. Eric Elliott, Moravian Archives, Southern Province

There is a long history in the Christian tradition of spiritual autobiography and witnessing, the personal yet public reflection on the role of God in the course of one’s life. There have also been repeated re-formulations for how best to intentionally seek such an individual understanding of God’s working in one’s life, outside of any public proclamation, though interior spiritual practices of examen. Zinzendorf’s use of the shared individual Lebenslauf or memoir as a vehicle to reinforce community values and “make visible” the common characteristics within the diversity of the “invisible church” takes place in the context of an 18th century surge in the use of memoir writing in the larger culture to explore a range of possibilities for what it means to be human. In that sense, Zinzendorf’s use of memoir writing was both grounded in traditional reflections on the interior disciplining of the Christian life and countering popular revaluation of the notion of self and humanness in the very literary form others were giving it individual variety: public leaders affirming professional achievement, novelists adding moral authenticity to story (or abandoned debauchery), and skeptics undermining faith in a Divine order. The author has had much experience with the creation of secular memoirs: oral histories for veterans’ history studies in public history programming that highlight common themes. Interestingly, most of our family history researchers appreciate our Archives’ Moravian memoirs for the individual details of the memoirists lives rather than their commonalities. How to seek affirmation for both the individual and communal parts of your story is part of my efforts to write a spiritual memoir-wiring guide for youth, using historical and modern insights on memoir narration.

Digital Lebensläufe: Moravian Memoirs in the Age of the Internet

Katherine Faull, Bucknell University

The phenomenon of the Lebenslauf or Moravian memoir is well known to those who work in the field of Moravian Studies. These memoirs total now over 65,000 and are housed primarily in archives in Germany and the US. However, less than 10% of the earliest manuscript material has been published. A spate of recent scholarship on the topic has made new arguments about its origin and function in the 1740s, and new collections of memoirs in print form have recently appeared. However, the selection process for these printed volumes of memoirs remains firmly under the purview of the editors of the respective volumes.

This paper will focus on an international DH project that is a collaboration between universities and archives in the US and Europe. Moravian Lives is a robust digital platform for the investigation of both the metadata and text of memoirs developed by a team of DH scholars in the US, Sweden, and Germany. This rich scholarly resource for historical and linguistic inquiry into the written lives of Moravians has already developed a digital interface that allows for geospatial and chronological visualization of places of birth and death of the authors of the memoirs. Furthermore, a custom-built digital transcription desk allows researchers to locate, transcribe, and export a selection of digitized memoirs in German, English and Swedish from the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, London and Fulneck, and Gothenburg and Stockholm.

Over the last year, undergraduate students at Bucknell and a doctoral candidate at the University of Greifswald in Germany have transcribed over a hundred of the memoirs available on the digital transcription desk. This paper will investigate our findings from the collection of previously unpublished memoirs of men and women and discuss the intersection of the digital, the autobiographical, and the sacred in the age of the internet. It will discuss how the act of reading and transcribing the lives of Moravians from around the world might also be understood as an act of reconstituting the “invisible church” that Zinzendorf envisaged when this practice was established.

New Uses for Treasured Traditions: The Potential of the Lebenslauf for Spiritual Growth and Small Group Development

Jill Vogt, Moravian Church European Continental Province

With this paper, I want to present some important results and insights from my study of using the Moravian Lebenslauf as a tool for spiritual reflection, Christian witness and small-group development.

My basic argument is that the traditional Lebenslauf practice in the funeral context can be transformed into an effective method for pastoral ministry, dealing especially with spiritual formation, evangelism, and community building. I will report about a workshop series that took place in Herrnhut in which participants found that writing and sharing their personal Lebenslauf was a transformative experience. I will look at the historical context of the Lebenslauf tradition and will make several recommendations as to how this tradition can be used as a resource for church life today.


Gehra, Gera, Guera — Harping on Disambiguation

David Blum, Moravian Music Foundation

For a long time not much was known about August Heinrich Gehra (1710-1785), including the degree to which he was affiliated with the Moravian Church. Some of his music has been edited, performed, and recorded; but it wasn’t until recently that his Lebenslauf was obtained and translated. Other primary and secondary source documents help to piece together details of his life, correcting other historical sources. Musical manuscripts are being dated and fit within the details of his biography.

The Musical Culture of an Early Moravian Settlement in America: Lititz, Pennsylvania

Jeffrey Gemmell, Millersville University of Pennsylvania/Lititz Moravian Congregation

Newly discovered materials from congregational histories, diaries, registers, inventories, letters, and other assorted artifacts, dated c.1760 to c.1820, will be presented to provide a contextual understanding of the musical culture of early Lititz, Penn. Specific repertoire will be discussed in terms of music used for worship – the anthems of Johannes Herbst (1735-1812) found in the Congregation Collection – as compared to scores used outside of worship – the repertoire of various composers to be found in the Collegium Musicum Collection. Herbst was a minister, bishop, teacher, headmaster, diarist, poet, translator, performer, theorist, and one of the most prolific Moravian composers in early America. He served the Lititz Congregation from 1791-1811 and wrote over thirty anthems in that period. The Collegium Musicum, an ensemble also established in other Moravian settlements of the time, provided accomplished musicians the chance to rehearse and perform regularly for their own practice, entertainment, and enlightenment. This orchestra was the core of what would become the Lititz Philharmonic Society and the Lititz Band in the nineteenth century. They performed from scores that were collected, often hand-copied, and assembled into a library consisting of larger instrumental and choral compositions, mostly from Europe, as well as chamber music for strings and winds. Moravian composers are also represented in the collection. Experience a distinctive facet of early American culture by listening to recent performances of newly edited repertoire from these collections accompanied by fresh historical research that will transport you back in time to this very special place.


The Founding and Reception of Christiansfeld

Tine Ravnsted-Larsen Reeh, University of Copenhagen

After a brief outline of the history of the settlement of this religious community at the zenith of Enlightenment politics in Denmark I will look at how it was perceived in a Nordic context. How did the local Lutheran church meet and interact with the Moravians, and how did they become an almost immediate success in a mono-religious absolutist state with a strong state church? Finally, I discuss what characterizes the later perception and historiography of the Moravian settlement in Denmark and the elements that has come to shape the concept of it as part of the cultural heritage.

The local archives in a global community

Christina Petterson, Australian National University Canberra

This paper is a discussion of the relationship between local and global in the case of Christiansfeld and particularly its archives. The content of the Christiansfeld archives will be discussed 1. in relation to the global community of the Moravian Church and the Central Archives in Bethlehem and Herrnhut and 2. in relation to the history of Denmark, thus providing a multi-dimensional view of the significance of this local Moravian community.

Cultural and Theological heritage: A theological reading of UNESCO Decision Code 39 COM 8B.20: Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement: Advisory Body Evaluation (ICOMOS) No 1468.

Jørgen Bøytler, Unity Board Administrator, Worldwide Moravian Church

The UNESCO Worlds Heritage Committee decision 39 COM 8B.20 concerning the nomination of Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement is based on the recommendations found in the Advisory Body Evaluation (ICOMOS) No 1468. Christiansfeld is deemed to have Outstanding Universal Values under UNESCO World Heritage List Criterion III and IV, and is among other things called a “a planned idealized Protestant colony,” having “humanistic town planning,” and it “reflects the Moravian Church’s societal and ethical ideals.”

The paper will discuss some of the concepts and assumptions in the ICOMOS evaluation, the main points having been included in the UESCO nomination text. Special interest will be given to theological and philosophical concepts, examining to what extent these concepts and assumptions are found to be reflecting theological concepts familiar to the Moravian Church.

This appears to be an important discussion, because the wish to see a serial nomination including several Moravian Church settlements is clearly expressed by both ICOMOS and UNESCO. The paper might serve as a catalyst for future decision making processes in Moravian settlements approaching a nomination for the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Religion and everyday practices and formation of civic selves

Tine Damsholt, University of Copenhagen

This presentation is an open discussion of how we may investigate and understand the entanglements of religious and secular practices and the use of heritage in everyday life, in past as well as present Christiansfeld. Questions of how civic self-awareness or subjectivity is shaped and negotiated in such practices will also be addressed.

The materialization of religion in aesthetics, crafts and urban design

Marie Riegels Melchoir, University of Copenhagen

The talk presents the early phases of a collaborative research project that explores the micro processes of becoming heritage. The focus is not the formal and administrative actions in order to apply for UNESCO World Heritage status, but the informal and diverse, everyday practices of a perceived, historically utopian society, that have led to world heritage status and the practices of continually negotiating this status since received in 2015. These practices are mainly studied in relation to the tangible heritage of Moravian Christiansfeld, its crafts, design and industry.


Live In Harmony: A Moravian Anthem Reading Session

Nola Knouse and Gwyneth Michel, Moravian Music Foundation

The Rev. Dr. Nola Reed Knouse and Gwyneth Michel will present a reading session of Moravian anthems, old and newly written, including some arrangements for smaller choirs. Singing through newly-published anthems from the Moravian Music Foundation, and hearing their stories, participants will gain a new appreciation of the rich variety of Moravian choral music.