The unity province of the Moravian Church in continental Europe is one of twenty-nine provinces of the worldwide Moravian Church. It has the structure of a free church. In Germany the Moravian Church is affiliated with the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and is a guest member of the Vereinigung Evangelischer Freikirchen (VEF.) All confessional writings which are valid in other Protestant churches are also considered valid in the Moravian Church.
The 20,000 members of the church in Europe are based in Albania, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. The administrative offices are located in Bad Boll, Herrnhut, and Zeist (NL). Most members live in the Netherlands and have a migration background: their ancestors came from the Dutch colony of Surinam, where the Moravian Church is a national church. There are sixteen congregations in Germany. About forty percent of the members of these congregations have dual membership, i.e. they also belong to a Lutheran regional church at the same time.
The mission statement of the Moravian Church is based on two defining things: The Czech Reformation and the religious movement surrounding Count Zinzendorf. Statements of principle have been made under the following titles: “Living Diversity. Overcoming Boundaries.”; “Practicing Community. Valuing Individuals”; “Living Faith. Passing on Hope”; “Drawing on Our Heritage. Shaping the Future.”
The Moravian Church is considered to be the church that was the first to take seriously the fact that mission is not a function of specialists, but a task of the church and the congregation. As early as 1732, the first missionaries were sent to plantation slaves in the Caribbean. Within ten years, mission attempts followed in a dozen other countries. Small beginnings grew into a church with 1,250,000 members in 47 countries.
Branching out to the Individual
The Herrnhuter Missionshilfe (HMH) was founded almost 100 years ago to combine the forces required for mission work. It sees itself as a service provider in mission matters. The close relationship between church and mission is expressed especially in the fact that the HMH deliberately does not elect a chairperson. The chair of the association is always held by the person who is responsible for mission in the church.
The HMH (www.herrnhuter-missionshilfe.de) works within the framework of mutually-agreed partner relations within the worldwide Moravian Church. At present it maintains contacts with people in Tanzania and Palestine, but also in Albania, Latvia, Malawi, Nicaragua, North India, South Africa, and Surinam. It does not dictate, but works together with local churches and initiatives. It knows that it is part of a network of various mission and aid organizations.
Grounded in Faith
With a small team of employees and a large circle of friends, the HMH ensures that the Good News is spread in word and deed. It is primarily concerned with individuals and their integration into the wider community, as well as helping people to help themselves. Priority is always given to helping the poorest of the poor. It carries out project-related development work and dedicates itself to community-building, the promotion of theological studies, the placement of volunteers, and the organization of exchange trips. With its fair trade, the “Moravian Merchandise,” it promotes economic initiatives in many countries as well as One World awareness in Europe. The HMH makes it clear in its mission statement that its actions are grounded in God’s Word and in the love of Christ. It rejoices in the richness and colorfulness of faith that is encountered in many places.
Mission is not a one-way street. The shrinking Christian community in old Europe needs impulses from the growing churches of the South. In the age of globalization, all must fulfill Christ’s mission together. The proclamation of the gospel has the same importance as the commitment to justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. Herrnhuter Missionshilfe summarizes its activities as follows: Believe together – learn from each other – stand up for each other.
Evangelische Brüder-Unität - Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine
73087 Bad Boll
Tel.: +49 7164 9421-0
Fax: +49 7164 942199
Zittauer Straße 20, 02747 Herrnhut
Tel. (035873) 487-0