In the early Christian church, the “agape meal” was considered a witness to the band of Christian unity, according to a church spokesman.
Rich and poor, widows and orphans, ordinary people, master and slave met together as equals to share a common meal.
A Czech reformer named John Hus led a protest movement against the Roman Catholic Church in 1415. He was accused of heresy and burned at the stake.
Hus’ followers formed the Unity of Brethren in 1457. The church promoted “the Scriptures” and further spread the movement. Despite persecution, the movement grew.
In the 1770s, the Moravian Church found renewal with the help of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a Saxony nobleman. The count encouraged the Unity of Brethren to “take the gospel to the far corners of the globe.”
The Moravians had three purposes: One they were devoted to mission work among the Native Americans; second they wanted to spread their faith among the colonies and thirdly they were devoted to a system of common work to support their missionary interests.
In 1735, the Moravians came to America as part of Gen. Oglethorpe’s venture in Georgia. The first settlement in Georgia was short-lived, however, the group was able to establish a settlement in Pennsylvania.
The Moravians founded the small colony of Salem, meaning peace, and dedicated to “God and our service to fellow men.”
While the Moravian way of life was structured and discipline, it was also peaceful. While some settlers were farmers, Salem was a center for crafts and trades as a way of supporting the church’s mission.
This focus on community provided by Salem’s craftspeople created a constant and shared motivation. They flourished, transforming the simple missionary settlement into a center for crafts.
Salem produced America’s first symphony orchestras and first composers. Music was a vital part of the Moravian religious and social life and the same motivation drove the musicians and the craftspeople.
The worship service Dec. 9 will be a “festival of worship during the Advent and a tribute to a group of early Americans who devoted their lives to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a tradition celebrated in the Moravian Church and which has been a part of the First Presbyterian Church for 36 years,” a representative noted.
“It is a celebration of worship that reminds us yet again of the grave and mercy found in the Christ child, Jesus, our Lord and Savior,” he said.
The public is invited to attend this special service.