The Moravian Church is one of the oldest Protestant denominations in the world, with its heritage dating back to the Bohemian Reformation in the fifteenth century. The name by which the Church is commonly known comes from the original exiles who fled to Saxony in 1722 from Moravia to escape religious persecution, but its heritage began in 1457 in Bohemia and its crown lands (Moravia and Silesia), then an autonomous kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire (today the Czech Republic). The modern Unitas Fratrum, with about 750,000 members worldwide, continues to draw on traditions established during the eighteenth century. The Moravians continue their long tradition of missionary work, this is reflected in their broad global distribution. The Church places a high value on ecumenism, personal piety, missions and music.The Modern Moravian Church, continues to draw on traditions established during the 18th-century renewal. In many places it observes the convention of the Lovefeast, originally started in 1727. It uses older and traditional music in worship. Brass music, congregational singing and choral music continue to be very important in Moravian congregations. In addition, in some older congregations, Moravians are buried in a traditional God's Acre, a graveyard with only flat gravestones, signifying the equality of the dead before God and organized by gender, age and marital status rather than family.The Moravians continue their long tradition of missionary work, for example in the Caribbean, where the Jamaican Moravian Church has begun work in Cuba and in Africa where the Moravian Church in Tanzania has missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. This is reflected in their broad global distribution. The Moravians in Germany, whose central settlement remains at Herrnhut, are highly active in education and social work. The American Moravian Church sponsors the Moravian College and Seminary. The largest concentration of Moravians today is in Tanzania.
Orders of Ministry:
Ordained ministry in the Moravian Church emphasizes the pastoral role. A candidate for ministry who has been approved by their home province and has completed the prescribed course of study (usually a Master of Divinity degree in the US and Europe) may be ordained a Deacon upon acceptance of a call.
Deacons may serve in a pastoral office and administer sacraments. A deacon is normally supervised by a presbyter who serves as mentor. After several years of satisfactory service, the Deacon may be consecrated as a Presbyter.
Presbyters function in the local congregation in the same manner as deacons, but may also serve to mentor deacons and may be assigned to other leadership roles in a particular province.
An Acolyte is a layperson who has received approval to assist the pastor in a specific local congregation. The acolyte may assist in the serving of Holy Communion but may not consecrate the elements.
The highest order of ministry is that of a Bishop. Bishops are elected by Provincial Synods usually through ecclesiastical ballot without nomination. In the Moravian Church, bishops do not have an administrative role but rather serve as spiritual leaders and pastors to the pastors. Bishops serve the worldwide Unity.