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Section IV.—THE MORAVIANS IN AMERICA.—In America the progress was of a similar kind. As soon as the American Brethren had gained Home Rule, they organized their forces in a masterly manner; arranged that their Provincial Synod should meet once in three years; set apart £5,000 for their Theological College at Bethlehem; and, casting aside the Diaspora ideas of Zinzendorf, devoted their powers to the systematic extension of their Home Mission work. It is well to note the exact nature of their policy. With them Home Mission work meant systematic Church extension. At each new Home Mission station they generally placed a fully ordained minister; that minister was granted the same privileges as the minister of any other congregation; the new cause was encouraged to strive for self support; and, as soon as possible, it was allowed to send a deputy to the Synod. At Synod after Synod Church extension was the main topic of discussion; and the discussion nearly always ended in some practical proposal. For example, at the Synod of 1876 the Brethren formed a Church Extension Board; and that Board was entrusted with the task of raising £10,000 in the next three years. Again, in 1885, they resolved to build a new Theological College, elected a Building Committee to collect the money, and raised the sum required so rapidly that in 1892 they were able to open Comenius Hall at Bethlehem, free of debt. Meanwhile the number of new congregations was increasing with some rapidity. At the end of fifty years of Home Rule the Moravians in North America had one hundred and two congregations; and of these no fewer than sixty-four were established since the separation of the Provinces. The moral is obvious. As soon as the Americans obtained Home Rule they more than doubled their speed; and in fifty years they founded more congregations than they had founded during the previous century. In 1857 they began new work at Fry’s Valley, in Ohio; in 1859 at Egg Harbour City; in 1862 at South Bethlehem; in 1863 at Palmyra; in 1865 at Riverside; in 1866 at Elizabeth, Freedom, Gracehill, and Bethany; in 1867 at Hebron and Kernersville; in 1869 at Northfield, Philadelphia and Harmony; in 1870 at Mamre and Unionville; in 1871 at Philadelphia; in 1872 at Sturgeon Bay; in 1873 at Zoar and Gerah; in 1874 at Berea; in 1877 at Philadelphia and East Salem; in 1880 at Providence; in 1881 at Canaan and Goshen; in 1882 at Port Washington, Oakland, and Elim; in 1886 at Hector and Windsor; in 1887 at Macedonia, Centre Ville, and Oakgrove; in 1888 at Grand Rapids and London; in 1889 at Stapleton and Calvary; in 1890 at Spring Grove and Clemmons; in 1891 at Bethel, Eden and Bethesda; in 1893 at Fulp and Wachovia Harbour; in 1894 at Moravia and Alpha; in 1895 at Bruederfeld and Bruederheim; in 1896 at Heimthal, Mayodon and Christ Church; in 1898 at Willow Hill; in 1901 at New York; in 1902 at York; in 1904 at New Sarepta; and in 1905 at Strathcona. For Moravians this was an exhilarating speed; and the list, though forbidding in appearance, is highly instructive. In Germany Church extension is almost unknown; in England it is still in its infancy; in America it is practically an annual event; and thus there are now more Moravians in America than in England and Germany combined. In Germany the number of Moravians is about 8,000; in Great Britain about 6,000; in North America about 20,000.

From this fact a curious conclusion has been drawn. As the American Moravians have spread so rapidly, the suspicion has arisen in certain quarters that they are not so loyal as the Germans and British to the best ideals of the Moravian Church; and one German Moravian writer has asserted, in a standard work, that the American congregations are lacking in cohesion, in brotherly character, and in sympathy with true Moravian principles.161161Burkhardt: Die Brüdergemeine, Erster Theil, p. 189. But to this criticism several answers may be given. In the first place, it is well to note what we mean by Moravian ideals. If Moravian ideals are Zinzendorf’s ideals, the criticism is true. In Germany, the Brethren still pursue Zinzendorf’s policy; in England and America that policy has been rejected. In Germany the Moravians still act as a “Church within the Church”; in England and America such work has been found impossible. But Zinzendorf’s “Church within the Church” idea is no Moravian “essential.” It was never one of the ideals of the Bohemian Brethren; it sprang, not from the Moravian Church, but from German Pietism; and, therefore, if the American Brethren reject it they cannot justly be accused of disloyalty to original Moravian principles.

For those principles they are as zealous as any other Moravians. They have a deep reverence for the past. At their Theological Seminary in Bethlehem systematic instruction in Moravian history is given; and the American Brethren have their own Historical Society. For twenty years Bishop Edmund de Schweinitz lectured to the students on Moravian history; and, finally, in his “History of the Unitas Fratrum,” he gave to the public the fullest account of the Bohemian Brethren in the English language; and in recent years Dr. Hamilton, his succesor, has narrated in detail the history of the Renewed Church of the Brethren. Second, the Americans, when put to the test, showed practical sympathy with German Brethren in distress. As soon as the German refugees arrived from Volhynia, the American Moravians took up their cause with enthusiasm, provided them with ministers, helped them with money, and thus founded the new Moravian congregations in Alberta. And third, the Americans have their share of Missionary zeal. They have their own “Society for Propagating the Gospel"; they have their own Missionary magazines; and during the last quarter of a century they have borne nearly the whole burden, both in money and in men, of the new mission in Alaska. And thus the three branches of the Moravian Church, though differing from each other in methods, are all united in their loyalty to the great essentials.


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