1757 - A short, reliable report from the church of the Unitas Fratrum...
sich JESU treues Weib, die Creuz, Gemeine, mit dem Leibe der für sie abgechlachten Lieb in diesem Augenblick begrueb! [Oh that Jesus loyal wife, the congregation, has buried the cross along with the body that he sacrificed for them!]
1. After everyone has received his part, the communal consumption takes place in one moment after the following words are spoken: Das thut zu meinem Gedaechtniss! [Do this in remembrance of me] The response that follows these words is Gemeine, zittre heiliglich, der Tod des Lamms durchgehet dich! [Congregants, tremble, for the death of the Lamb passes through you!]. During this time, the congregation is kneeling or lying on their face, which is known as Prostratio, or the adoration. This practice is also common on other occasions.
2. After they have returned to their feet the congregation shares the Kiss of Peace, with the words Das unbeflekte Passah-Fleisch, das mach dir Leib und Seele Feuscht! [The untarnished Passover Lamb (flesh) renders your body and soul moist.]
3. Then a liturgy that is indescribable is sung about the body of Jesus
4. Following the Liturgy, a Testament to his blood is begun, usually with the verse Da man hatt zur Vesper-Zeit die Schaecher zerbrochen, ward Jesus in seine Seit mit einem Speer gestochen: daraus Blut und Wasser rann. [As one had broken the accused by dusk, Jesus was pierced in the side with a spear. Blood and water ran out.] The goblet is consecrated with the appropriate words and is given to the oldest present and
5. With the assistance of the Diaconen the goblet is passed from one neighbor to another as a liturgy of passion songs about the holy blood is sung.
6. In conclusion a decorous response consisting of the Kiss of Peace and blessing is accorded from one neighbor to another and
7. The candidates, when there are such, for admittance to the Holy Sacraments are confirmed.
If the communion was held at midday, a final evening service is held. If the communion was celebrated in the evening, then a morning service is held. These services are usually a mixture of communion songs that contain some measure of influential material.
Those who are forced to remain at home due to official duties or other complications receive the communion without the repeated consecration when the others are done or the next morning. This is called the Post-communion and the infirm receive it in their rooms from a Diacono. Except for the general communion days the infirm do not receive the communion.
The brethren believe that the Savior introduced the Pedilavio, or the foot washing, via the Testament, not just as an act of an act of love and worship, but also as a way to clean ones soul.
wash is complete with kiss. The priest performs the Liturgy and repeats the appropriate responses for each row. In the same manner, the eldest or the Diaconess, in the presence of a priest who reads the Liturgy, performs this ritual for the Sisters.
The Brethren hold Agapes, or Love Feasts, at various opportunities just as it was done in the first church. These feasts are, in fact, nothing more than very moderate meals. These meals are meant to cheer and fill the community with the Spirit, not to be used as excuses for gorging on food. Even so they are generally larger and more generous than the typical family meal. In order that they do not degenerate into either embarrassingly meager or frustratingly wasteful occasions, the type of food and drink, namely bread and tea, is stipulated. In addition, regulated communities bake the bread with extra diligence to distinguish it from other breads. There are, however
1. Love Feasts held on different occasions that do not have any other specific time.
2. House Love Feasts when the head of a house that is of a generous nature organizes a simultaneous Agape for all of the house members on certain days such as the Sabbath or on Sundays instead of the normal meal. Such heads of house do not begrudge their people a few hours of festivities.
3. Festival and church Love Feasts are held for example on Maundy Thursday, Char Friday, important Sabbaths, memorial days, and before or after the Holy Communion. At these communions, the Brethren usually have wine and water. Because certain individuals from other churches
wanted to take these Agapes before the Holy Communion. The Brethren added the customary drink to it.
During the daily meetings the holy text is read and discussed. The Brethren use the translation that is most often used in the region where they reside. They await, almost child like, a more developed compilation comprised of many different Bible translations, some of which are well-advised versions. The Brethren have received Bibles in many different languages. They eagerly and diligently read the Bible, openly and in private, and some of them are so well versed in its contents that they have almost memorized whole parts of it.
For a speech or sermon, they usually combine specific verses from the Bible with explanatory passages from the songbook. This they call the application and text. These applications are daily words of encouragement, mostly from the Old Testament, with memorial passages, promises, warnings, punishments and comforts. These began in 1729 A.D. The texts are words to teach and to warn, mostly taken out of the New Testament. They began in 1736 A.D. with the speech of the Savior. Following that, the description of the Savior, called the Lamb of God, from the mouths of the Prophets and Apostles, his description of his own character, and annotations from other writings were used. These texts, like some of the applications, were repeated in various years. Out of these texts came such daily texts as the Ethica Sacra, or biblical ethics, the Liturgia Biblica, or the texts which are spiritually near God in their especially merciful actions toward and revelations to his people, in both the old and new covenant. In addition, the biblical name of the Savior
and of his bride, the Church are explained.
Three years worth of texts from the five books of Moses, Joshua and Judges up to Samuel, in their natural order, had not yet appeared in the applications. It is assumed that this will be continued throughout the entire Old Testament. Finally, the texts from the independent truth, the Holy Ghost. Applications for children have begun to be created from old and new church songs, short prayers, and collections for use by the institution.
The word institution, which was probably preferred by the fore-fathers because it was meant to render the word pia cause obsolete, is usually used by the Brethren to indicate a school or a meeting of children who live, learn, sleep, and are saved together. The term orphanage, which also carried a rather unsavory perception, was completely eradicated by the Brethren. The real orphans are brought among the poor children, among the children of laborers and messengers who are waking the spirits of heathens or residents of other towns, or who are working and cannot have their children with them nor raise them, and among children from outlying areas. All of the children are raised together in the institutions and Paedagaogiis.
The Brethren have already decided many times, and have also made it well known, that they, due to many different circumstances, wished to cease accepting children from other towns, especially children for whose education they are not directly responsible. They have, through indemnities and other methods, made it as difficult as possible for parents, yet they have not been able to dissuade everyone. The strong pressure and forlorn pleas of the parents is the strongest
proof from outside sources that the Brethren must have developed a very strong constitution within these schools which one cannot easily find fault in. Especially noteworthy is that, in their Paedegogiis, young men from the families of counts, lords, and burghers, both native and foreign, are taught so much in all kinds of necessary and useful sciences that they could even do without the academies. We cannot and do not want to say more about the institutions, especially about their internal, personal constitutions. Such revelations do not serve to clarify the situation, nor are they comfortable for the leaders of the institutions. These leaders are not so much understood by outsiders as they are admired and observed in an attempt to copy them.
When those who have devoted themselves to knowledge finish their Studia, do not want to enter the university, and are not required at home, they enter the academy. After three years of studying there, they enter the Seminarium of the Brethren, which has grown to over three hundred members since its beginning in 1730 A.D. Various Moravian Brothers, over one hundred Lutheran candidates from approximately fifteen academies, and several fifties of Anglican and other Reformed believers make up the membership. Some of them, after years of loyal service, are already retired, while others of them still hold offices. More still are being prepared by the Seminarium for positions within the church. They study mostly Theology, in a more practical and homiletic style than systematically, as well as the old languages and church history, all under the guidance of a Decani and his helpers. They search their own hearts and discover their callings, waking it from within themselves. They are called to become either preceptors and
catechumen in other Evangelical churches, or to fulfill roles within the Church of the Brethren, or to become missionaries of all kinds.
The heathen missions are a simple execution of the decision made by the Brethren in the 1600s, after they received Luthers heartfelt admonition that they should not confine themselves to Bohemia, but should instead learn other languages in order to convert the heathens.
In most locations, the Brethren were summoned by either the heathens themselves, or by the ruling body of the land in which the mission lays. Because the latter was usually due to some ulterior motives that the Brethren could not fulfill, they generally preferred to be allowed to come rather than to be induced. A messenger to the heathens is not elected. When a Synodus requires one or more messengers, the Brothers who have a calling to be messengers volunteer to be sent. A committee assesses their work and capabilities, dispatches them to their posts, and sends deputies to check on their status. If there is an established community in the area, then an Elder is sent to visit the mission. If need be, the messenger will be called back. These messengers are humble people whose coming and goings among the heathens do not cause a sensation. They respond better to the difficulties of such a lifestyle than most tender, educated folk and are more willing to work for their own subsistence. They do not push the ideas of those who sent them, but are patient and diligent when they have to wait a long time for the heathens to convert, or even when they, having been unsuccessful, must depart. From the beginning, the promise of a large conversion of heathens has not been rewarded; rather, the importance has been placed on achieving first conversions of depth. When they achieve this goal, they are even more thankful and are careful to make sure that the converted heathens are
brought to a place as far away from other Christians and heathens as possible in order to protect them from vexation. Due to conditions which have proven painful many times over and which are quite urgent, they do not offer very much information about their blessings except for presenting themselves. They hope to protect their seeds from being trampled by the enemy. They do not give out much, if any, information about their blessings, except for the blessing itself. They have made twenty five attempts in all parts of the world to announce the gospel to people who have not yet heard the word, or to those who no longer remember it. They have crossed the waters some thousands of times, sent almost three hundred people to perform this duty, and brought almost five thousand souls to the gospel. In this process, up to one hundred of these saints have been buried on foreign land, their bones nurturing the lands where they lay.
After we have described the canon law, public worship services, and institutes of the Unity, one would expect to hear something of the inner workings of the fully equipped communities. In order to grant the care promised in the reception of individuals into the community in an orderly, careful manner, in keeping with the best interests of the members, the group is divided not only into two different sexes, but also by degrees and age. Each group has its own Elders, caregivers, and laborers. These divisions are called choirs, in the same sense as the round dances in the Old Testament. The single members live separately from the families in large houses that have been adapted to this use. These houses are called choir houses. The younger or single Brothers have such a house, and their neighbors are the widowers. At a seemly distance from them is the house for the younger or single Sisters and, not very far from them, is the choir house for the widows.