Moravian Brethren

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Unity logo at the Church of the Brethren in Nieuw-Amsterdam (Suriname) : VICIT AGNUS NOSTER, EUM SEQUAMUR  - “Our lamb has won, let's follow him”.

The Moravian Brethren Community (often also in Latin Unitas Fratrum ; Evangelical or Renewed Brothers Unity , English Moravian Church ) is a nominally non-denominational Christian faith movement that comes from the Bohemian Reformation ( Bohemian Brothers ) and was shaped by Lutheran Protestantism , Calvinism and later Pietism .

In many countries there are churches that have emerged from the very active missionary work of the Moravian Brethren and its daughter settlements in the past centuries. Today the Unitas Fratrum has over 1,000,000 members worldwide, called community members in the parlance of Moravian . The largest congregation is now in Tanzania .


Prehistory: The Bohemian Brothers

After the eminent Bohemian reformer Jan Hus was burned at the Council of Constance in 1415, the Hussites named after him split into two parties, the pragmatic Utraquists and the radical Taborites . Initially, these Reformation groups were able to assert themselves with the foreign name Bohemian Brothers , which was customary at the time , or the own name Unitas Fratrum (Brothers Unity) . But tried the Czech-Luxembourg royal dynasty , ruled the Hussites of church and state offices, which resulted in violent riots and finally with the Crusade boy by Pope Martin V. from March 1420 then in the Hussite wars resulted. During these fierce battles against the Catholics in Bohemia and the neighboring countries , a violent struggle broke out between the two Hussite groups for years.

The preacher and theologian Petr Chelčický was a follower of Jan Hus. After his death, he fell out theologically with Hus' successor as preacher at the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague, the Utraquist Jakobellus von Mies , who argued that the word of God could also be properly defended with the sword. The Taborites also accepted this thesis and thus justified their militaristic traits. Petr Chelčický, however, rejected all violence. Since 1420 he has been living in retirement on his estate in South Bohemia, Chelčický developed a radical pacifist vision of Christianity in various treatises and treatises in the old Czech language, influenced by John Wyclif (1330-1384) , he strived for a return to early Christianity and postulated the equality of all Christians , called for voluntary poverty, rejected monasticism, spoke out against conscription and rejected the oath. He criticized the corporate social order of the time of manorial rule and inheritance . King George of Podebrady gave his followers, the Petr Chelčický brothers , the Kunwald estate as their residence in 1457 . Despite some persecution, the number of followers continued to grow, so that in 1467 they came to an arrangement with priests and a bishop. Against the advocates of the strict principles (the Small Party ), a group that wanted to introduce milder elements soon turned up, the so-called Big Party or Brethren Union (Unitas fratrum) . Instead of a bishop, the top management of the brotherhood consisted of a council of four senior citizens. Later they were u. a. shaped by its first bishop, the famous school teacher Johann Amos Comenius (1592–1670). The Little Party existed next to the Brothers' Union for about 50 years. Martin Luther , who negotiated with the latter several times, was unable to win her over because she insisted on the celibacy of the clergy, the seven sacraments and the Eucharistic teaching according to the Catholic faith and apostolic tradition.

With the Confessio Bohemica in 1575, a comparison of the brothers with the Lutherans, the Reformed and the Calixtines was achieved. Because of this, Emperor Rudolf II issued the majesty letter in 1609 . During the Thirty Years' War , which broke out in 1618 , the brothers in Bohemia were almost completely destroyed, they could only meet in secret. Their bishop Johann Amos Comenius had to leave his home in 1628. The brothers settled in Lissa , Poland , and in the Kingdom of Hungary (in today's Slovakian Skalica and Púchov ).

Development of the Moravian Brethren

As a result of the Counter Reformation at the beginning of the 18th century, Bohemian brothers came mainly from Moravia to the estate of Nikolaus Ludwig Graf von Zinzendorf (1700–1760) in the Upper Lusatian town of Berthelsdorf from 1722 . Outside the village they founded the Herrnhut settlement . Count Zinzendorf built a Palais Zinzendorf, also known as the “manor house”, from 1725-27, and the Vogtshof from 1730 to 1746 , which from 1756 served as the seat of the umbrella bailiff (the directorate) of the Brothers' Unity. In 1736, Zinzendorf was banished from the Electorate of Saxony , as his congregation had become too independent of Lutheran orthodoxy and was viewed as a threat to the unified regional church. In 1737 some brothers moved on to Bohemian-Rixdorf near Berlin. Zinzendorf found asylum with the Counts of Ysenburg and Büdingen at Ronneburg Castle in Wetterau , where he founded the communities of Marienborn (County of Ysenburg-Büdingen-Meerholz ) and Herrnhaag (1738; County of Ysenburg-Büdingen-Büdingen ). In 1737 he was ordained brother bishop by the Reformed court preacher Daniel Ernst Jablonski in Berlin, who was also bishop of the Polish Brethren Unity. The Polish university was linked by succession with the old Bohemian-Moravian one, whose own episcopal succession could not continue beyond Johann Amos Comenius.

After the death of Zinzendorf, the Brethren came closer to the traditional Lutheran theology, but still know that they are still connected with all the other "children of God" in a shared faith of the heart, across all denominations. Since then you have professed the Confessio Augustana as your profession.

Herrnhut became the starting point for intensive diaspora work in the old German Empire, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Scandinavia. Within a few years a dense network of friends and subsidiary communities developed. Count Zinzendorf traveled as a preacher to the Russian Baltic Sea governorates of Estonia, Livonia, Courland as well as to England, North America, the West Indies and Saint Thomas .

Already in 1738 there was a Herrnhut house group initiated by Mennonite preacher Johannes Deknatel in the East Frisian city ​​of Norden , from which the Herrnhut municipality of Norden emerged ; it existed until 1898. Also in 1738 Georg Schmidt founded the Genadendal station as a missionary in the former Dutch Cape Colony of the VOC , in today's South African province of Western Cape . The name "Genadendal" was adopted by Nelson Mandela in 1995 as a name for the official residence of the South African President in Cape Town to recognize the Moravian missionary work under the San and as a significant contribution to overcoming apartheid .

In 1751 there was a Christian awakening among the poor Sorbian rural population in and around Kleinwelka in Upper Lusatia . The Christians met among others in Teichnitz on the estate of Count Gersdorff. Through this it came to connections with Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. Matthäus Lange, who was close to the Moravian Church, also made his property in Kleinwelka available to the Congregation. This started her work in Kleinwelka. The estate quickly no longer offered enough space for the large influx of people attending the services. So seven years later it became necessary to build a meeting place. With the construction of the prayer room in 1757/58 and other buildings, a plan was drawn up for the new location of the Kleinwelka colony , whereupon brisk building activity began. After the prayer room was built, important houses such as the Brothers House (1764), the Sister’s House (1770), the first house of the boys 'institution (1778) and the diaspora house (1778) as well as the first house of the girls' institution (1781) were built in addition to some residential buildings. Most of the buildings in Kleinwelka are still in their original state.

Around 1771, Christiansfeld, a Moravian town in Denmark, was created based on the Dutch model. The Brethren von Christiansfeld was consciously promoted by the Danish royal family for economic reasons and achieved great spiritual influence. The Settlements of the Brethren became the starting point of the Gentile Mission, which gave rise to churches in the former mission areas, for example in what is now South Africa.

After an initial Methodist revival movement in England, however, there was a demarcation between the Brethren there and the newly emerged Methodism .

In the United States , the Brethren maintained their first school in 1742 in Germantown , a current district of Philadelphia , where German Quakers , Mennonites and Lutherans had already settled from 1683 . In 1759 the Nazareth Hall school was established in Nazareth , Pennsylvania , which was also founded by the Brothers' Unity . The renowned Moravian College & Theological Seminary in the nearby university town of Bethlehem followed .

Origin and name variations

The movement is considered to be the founding of Nikolaus Ludwig Graf von Zinzendorf , who in 1722 had accepted the Bohemian Brothers as exiles on his estate in Berthelsdorf in Upper Lusatia . After his death in 1764 they took over the palace and estate, while some of them moved to Böhmisch-Rixdorf in what is now Berlin's Neukölln district as early as 1737 . In accordance with their pronounced religiosity, they placed their community under the " care of the Lord" and named their colony Herrnhut , which later became an administrative community through immigration in the 18th century , which became independent in 1895 and received city ​​rights in 1929 . In addition to the Bohemian Brothers, Schwenkfeldians who had been expelled from Silesia also settled at Gut Berthelsdorf in the first half of the 18th century .

The Moravian Brethren are also referred to as Unitas Fratrum , Renewed Brothers Unity , Evangelical Brothers Unity or similar, in short also as Moravian or Moravian Brothers Unity ; in English and French speaking countries they are their origins in Moravia because of the Moravian Church and Frères Moraves or Église Morave called.


The Brothers Unity is synodally organized. There are 19 provinces around the world, whose representatives meet every seven years for a unity synod.

The responsibility for the congregation lies with the council of elders, the responsibility for the province with the synod. The episcopate is purely spiritual and has no administrative duties.

Structure and distribution

Worldwide the Moravian Brethren / Unitas Fratrum is divided into the 4 regions Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America as well as North America. The regions are divided into provinces, some of which are divided into districts.

In 2016, the Moravian Brethren had a total of 1,197,140 members in 24 independent churches (provinces), which include five not fully independent “mission provinces” and some externally administered “mission areas”. About 76 percent of the members live in Africa (907,000), 17% in Central America (205,000), 3% in North America (39,000) and 2% each in Europe (20,000) and the mission areas (25,000).

Provinces or mission area founding year Communities Members
Africa (total) 907.830
Burundi (Mission Province of Tanzania) 40,000
Tanzania, North Prov. 2007 25th 3,910
Tanzania, Eastern Prov. 2007 56 28,510
Tanzania, Rukwaprov. 1986 60 66,410
Tanzania, South Prov. 1891 170 203,000
Tanzania, Southwest Prov. 1978 211 300,000
Tanzania, Lake Tanganyika Prov. 2005 30th 32,100
Tanzania, West Prov. 1897 61 104,000
Zambia 1989 17th 5,210
South Africa / Namibia 1792/1737 87 98,000
Congo / DR Congo 2005 80 21,500
Malawi 2007 10 5,190
Caribbean & Latin America (total) 204.980
Costa Rica 1980/1941 3 1,900
Guyana 1878/1835 8th 960
Honduras 1930 85 34,450
Jamaica 1754 65 8,100
Nicaragua 1849 226 97,000
Suriname 1735 67 30,000
West India East 1732 52 15,100
Honduras (Mission Province of Nicaragua) 16,870
Cuba 1997 600
North America (overall) 39,150
Alaska 1885 22nd 1,690
North America, North Prov. 1741/1735 89 20,530
North America, South Prov. 1753 55 15,030
Labrador 1771/1752 1,900
Europe (total) 20,180
European mainland (Prov.) 1727 24 14,530
Great Britain 1742 30th 1,200
Czech Republic 1862/1457 29 3,800
Czech Republic / Moravian Seniorat 650
Mission areas 25,000
All in all 1.112.120

In Guyana and the Czech Republic, the small church is divided. In both countries there were independent charismatic movements that led to the separation of the “traditional” congregations and members. Both parts are connected to the international church.

The Brothers' Union has been spread through missions around the world since 1732 , starting in the Caribbean ( Neu-Herrnhut (Saint Thomas) ), Greenland ( Neu-Herrnhut ), South Africa ( Genadendal ), North America and in 1735 in Suriname . At the end of the 19th century the work in what was then German East Africa was added, where the majority of the members live in today's Tanzania.

It was one of the principles of the Moravian Mission to turn to people who no one else cared about. Count Zinzendorf , the spiritual leader of the church in Herrnhut, was convinced that God is effective throughout the world through his spirit, even among people who do not yet know him. The Herrnhut missionaries should therefore help the people with whom they came into contact to get to know better this God, who was always at work among them, and to experience that he became man in Jesus Christ in order to redeem them .

From the beginning, a holistic understanding of mission was pursued and, in addition to the preaching of this good news, efforts were made to improve the concrete living conditions of the people, for example through the establishment of schools and medical help. Another principle of the Moravian Mission was to use people who had come to believe as quickly as possible to spread the good news to their fellow men. In this way, they were included in the responsibility from the start.

From the work of the Moravian missionaries, a worldwide church has emerged today. Within this community there is close cooperation through which the various provinces support each other in fulfilling their missionary mandate.

In addition to the work within the independent church provinces, the Moravian Brethren also tackles new missionary tasks. Through migration and other contacts, congregations were created in other countries, where the work is now carried out by neighboring provinces under the name “Mission Area”. In 1988 the “New Witness for the World” fund was set up, into which all church provinces pay money for financing. The actual implementation of the respective missionary undertaking is transferred to the province that is closest locally. Here are a few places and regions where missionary work for which the fraternity is responsible is taking place:

Municipalities in Germany

Moravian Church on Zinzendorfplatz in Niesky
In 1747 the Moravian prayer house was built in Neusalz on the Oder in Lower Silesia
Moravian Church in Neuwied

The congregations in Germany belong to the European Continental Province of the Church, which is represented in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Albania.

The majority of the European members live in the Netherlands, and they are Christians with an origin from Suriname.

The management of the German and European-continental communities is based in Herrnhut in Upper Lusatia (Görlitz / Saxony district) and in Bad Boll in the Göppingen district in Württemberg . Bad Boll was added to Herrnhut, which was in the GDR, at the time of the division of Germany.

The German branch is a permanent member of the Working Group of Christian Churches in Germany (ACK), participates in the World Council of Churches (ÖRK) and is an associated member of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), guest member of the Association of Evangelical Free Churches (VEF) and is responsible for the German Evangelical Alliance (DEA) close.

The German Brethren is a member of the Evangelical Mission in Southwest Germany . From Germany there are special relationships with the work of the Brethren in Tanzania , South Africa , Suriname and the diaconal institution Sternberg in Palestine . With the support of many friends, the cooperation with the is perceived and coordinated by the Herrnhuter Missionshilfe e. V. (HMH) in Bad Boll .

In the case of the municipalities, a difference can still be seen between the so-called “local” and “regional”. Local communities are traditional foundations of places or residential areas where Moravians lived together in the 18th and 19th centuries, such as in Herrnhut , Königsfeld or Neuwied . Other local congregations that were once founded in Herrnhut are Zeist in the Netherlands and Christiansfeld in southern Denmark.

The majority of the German Moravians lived in the East German provinces of Prussia until 1945 and found themselves scattered all over Germany after fleeing and being expelled. In some cases, very large area churches were founded here, whereby the members are recommended to join the Protestant churches in their places of residence by means of double membership. The only re-establishment of a Moravian settlement made up of displaced community members took place in Neugnadenfeld in Lower Saxony since 1946 .

Churches in Germany today exist in the following places:

Bad Boll , Berlin , Bielefeld , Cottbus , Dresden , Ebersdorf , Düsseldorf , Forst (Lausitz) , Frankfurt am Main , Gnadau , Hamburg , Herrnhaag , Herrnhut , Kleinwelka , Königsfeld , Neudietendorf , Neugnadenfeld , Neuwied , Niesky , Tossens , Zwickau

Situation in Austria

On June 12, 1878, the Minister of Education, Carl von Stremayr (1823–1904) gave the most submissive lecture in which he asked the emperor to authorize the Moravian Community of Brothers to be recognized. He stated that all requirements for recognition were to be considered as fulfilled, even if the positive conditions were only fulfilled through the assurance of the university management in Berthelsdorf. Rudolf Wierer stated in his investigation that this submission by the Minister of Education created a spirit that was very benevolent for the university. Nevertheless, the emperor resolved the resolution on March 29, 1880 only under the successor Sigmund Conrad von Eybesfeld (1821–1898) the legal recognition of the Moravian Brothers' Union.

This recognition persisted even after the fall of the Habsburg Monarchy, although its focus was on the Bohemian region and it no longer had a single religious community in Austria, which had become smaller. Its legal status has long been controversial, and some considered its recognition to be dormant until the first Federal Laws Conclusion Act in 1999 initially confirmed its validity. With an ordinance of February 3, 2012, the Federal Minister for Education, Art and Culture finally repealed the ordinance from 1880, which ended the recognition of the Brethren Church in Austria. The legal basis for this was Section 11a, Paragraph 1, Item 2 of the Federal Act on the Legal Personality of Religious Denominations, in which the withdrawal of this status is standardized if the religious society has not had any statutory bodies capable of acting in accordance with the statutes for the state for at least one year.

Situation in Switzerland

The Prättigau near Saas, to the north

The visit of Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf , who visited Zurich in 1735 and founded the first community here , can be described as the beginning of the work of the Brethren in Switzerland . As a result, however, the canton of Graubünden developed into a center for the Moravians. The first messenger of the Brethren here was Johann Georg Wallis, who traveled through the Prättigau in the summer of 1750 accompanied by his friend, the Chur pastor and Moravian friend Daniel Willi , and visited Klosters , Saas and Davos . In the following years, more traveling Moravians visited the region and the number of friends grew rapidly. Above all, Klosters developed into a center of the Brethren, where in the house of Pastor Johannes Roseli the Elder. J. (1722–1793) gathered up to 70 believers weekly. Another important station was Luzein , where Pastor Jakob Valentin (1752–1773) worked. The Moravian fans were also able to gather in Jenaz , Grüsch , Seewis and Schiers . In 1778, when the Herrnhut dispute had been raging in Graubünden for almost two decades , there were 249 members throughout the Graubünden region, including numerous sympathizers.

A total of 321 followers were registered in the cantons of Zurich , Thurgau and Schaffhausen . Emanuel Ryhiner, the pastor of the Leonhardskirche , supported the Herrnhut supporters in Basel until the split in 1742 .

In 1866, Brother Hayder was the last Moravian messenger to travel through the Prättigau and the Bündnerland.


The Moravians founded their first communities in the Netherlands during the time of Zinzendorf. In 1745 their close merchant Cornelis Schellinger acquired Zeist Castle near Utrecht and invited the community to settle. The buildings around Broederplein and Zusterplein ("Brüder-" and "Schwesternplatz"), which are still in existence today, were acquired in 1767 by Zinzendorf's daughter Marie Agnes in trust for the church. This was the only municipality in the Netherlands for a long time.

Today the majority of the members of the European Continental Province live in the Netherlands and belong to families with a migration background from the former Dutch colony of Suriname , including many descendants of African slaves.

Brothers Unity missions in North America

Baptism of three Lenni Lenape Indians by a Moravian missionary

The Moravian missionaries came to North America from Germany in 1735, preached non-resistance and non-violence, and brought about a remarkable change among many converted Indians. They were called Moravian Indians (English: Moravian Indians) and they lived in villages with names like Salem, Bethlehem or Gnadenhutten. There they raised horses and cattle, cultivated orchards, tilled their fields, and gathered daily for worship.

Although the Moravian missionaries had contact with many tribes, the conversion of Lenni Lenape was their most important mission goal. They followed this tribe from Pennsylvania via Ohio and Indiana to Kansas . They have also served with the Mahican and Mattabesic in Connecticut and New York and with the Cherokee in Georgia and Oklahoma . The fraternity had limited success in converting indigenous people with only a few hundred baptized Indians per mission. The relatively low population density of the indigenous people, the increased migration to the west, the Gnadenhütten massacre in 1782 and the presence of alcohol sellers are all reasons for the relatively low number of converted Indians. Nevertheless, the Moravian missionaries enjoyed a good reputation and were often visited by chiefs of various tribes, some of whom accepted the Christian faith. Around 1900 the last Indian mission in North America was closed after a total of 150 years of activity.

Winston-Salem in the US state of North Carolina is one of the most significant and well-documented congregations in its history . The Moravian Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg acquired in January 1753 on behalf of the Moravian Church, a 400 km² area around the Muddy Creek and named it in memory of the original home of the Zinzendorfer - in Latin modification for Wachau  - Wachovia . On November 17, 1753, the first 15 men from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania came to the area to reclaim it. They called the collection of rather provisional accommodations Bethabara . The first settler families practiced agriculture using the most modern methods of the time. They particularly dedicated themselves to the cultivation of medicinal plants. Their precise records of agricultural activities are a valuable source for science today. On January 6, 1766, construction began on a planned settlement in which a larger group of people would live according to biblical principles as laid down by the fraternal community. The village was completed in 1771 and was named Salem (for "peace").

Until 1856 Salem was a community organized entirely according to the rules of the Church. The responsibilities of the church also included all matters of a public and economic nature. The entire land belonged to the church and was leased to users. Only the increasing economic integration with the surrounding area, in which a rapidly growing population oriented itself towards other values, led to a departure from the old rules in worldly matters. Even the pacifism originally peculiar to the Moravian Brethren came to an end in 1831 with the formation of their own infantry company .

Some of the original buildings have been preserved as the Old Salem Museum Village , just south of the town center of Winston-Salem, and are a popular tourist destination. Traditional handicrafts from the 19th century are demonstrated in numerous buildings.

While members of different skin colors were integrated in the 18th century, after the American War of Independence an increasing number of black church members were segregated and the relationship to the missionized members was based on the principle of inequality, e.g. through separate divine sacred areas for blacks. Keeping slaves was not fundamentally rejected. Rather, one avoided political interference in the subject. In 1769 a synod called for good treatment of slaves with reference to the Bible. In 1825 it was decided at a synod that one did not want to interfere because of the "human rights of negroes and property relations of the masters".

In North America today there are four provinces of the Moravian Church:

  • Alaska
  • Labrador
  • Northern Province (northern and western states of the USA and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario )
  • Southern Province (southeastern states of the USA)


Gate to the churchyard of the Brethren in the cemeteries in front of the Hallesches Tor in Berlin-Kreuzberg

In the Brethren Church, currents from the Bohemian Reformation of Jan Hus , from Pietism and Calvinism have united. It represents a community in which theologians and lay people work. It is the right and the duty of every member to read the Bible for themselves and to interpret it for themselves.

The triple ordination of deacon , presbyter and bishop comes from the Bohemian-Moravian Brethren Church. The ordination of women is not yet allowed in all provinces of the Moravian Brethren. Zinzendorf ordained women as presbyters and deacons as early as the 18th century; however, this practice was given up after his death and was forgotten and was only taken up again in the 1950s. The South African Angelene Harriet Swart , President of the Brothers' Union in South Africa, was elected as the new President of the Worldwide Brethren in January 2007.

Doctrine emphasizes justification and redemption through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, the love of the Savior, and the work of the Holy Spirit . Zinzendorf said: "If we know Him [Jesus], then we know everything that we need to know in the Godhead." The blessing of same-sex couples has been allowed in the Moravian Brethren since 2014, but every minister / pastor is free to decide whether he wants to do one.

Funeral culture

Gottesacker in Hanerau

In the design of their cemeteries, which are called divine cemeteries, the Brethren implements their ideas of equality before death and rest before resurrection. The Herrnhuter Gottesacker , which was laid out in 1730, is a cultural monument of supraregional importance and is a model for many burial places of the Brethren around the world. In contrast to the baroque cemetery culture, it is distinguished by its pronounced simplicity of design (uniform grave sizes, lying corpse stones standardized as early as 1747, dominance of the horizontal, etc.).

As early as 1740, it was decided that every local congregation should have its own churchyard and that this should even be a condition for later foundations. Just as a person has to orient himself to Jesus in all his actions, so lying in the grave is also a liturgical act, taught Zinzendorf. After all, Jesus was also in the grave. The churchyard was one of the liturgical rooms of the community.


The Evangelical Brothers Unity has been issuing the slogans every year since 1731 (2018 for the 288th time) with one Bible verse each from the Old and New Testaments for daily devotion . The Evangelical Society of Germany leads them in cooperation addition since 1912, the devotional book light and power , with the corresponding interpretations out. The slogans have now been translated into over 50 languages ​​and have an annual circulation of around 1.75 million on all continents. Since 2010 there has also been the appointment calendar Die Losungen for young people in Germany .


The Brethren currently maintains six schools in German-speaking countries, including grammar schools, vocational, elementary, secondary and special schools (four in Germany ( Gnadau / Saxony-Anhalt , Herrnhut / Saxony , Königsfeld / Black Forest and North Sea resort Tossens / Lower Saxony ), two in the Netherlands).

Church chant

The congregation also has its own hymn books. It is characteristic that the songs have often developed over the years and several authors have contributed to their creation. The most famous song writers were:

  • Johannes Baptista by Albertini (1769–1831)
  • Johann Arbor († 1773)
  • Friedrich Böhnisch (1710–1763)
  • Johann Gottlieb Ehrenfried Böhmer (1700–1741)
  • Adam von Bruiningk (1739–1772)
  • Gottlob Büttner († 1745)
  • Gottfried Clemens (1706–1776)
  • Johann Friedrich Cammerhof (1721–1751)
  • Martin Cornelius (life data unknown)
  • Christian David (1692–1751)
  • Leonhard Johann Dober (1706–1766)
  • Martin Dober (1703-1748)
  • Johann Jakob Dupp (1707–1793)
  • Christian Ludwig Edeling (~ 1700–1742)
  • Christian Friedrich Förster (1751-1811)
  • Karl Bernhard Garve (1763–1841)
  • Christian Gregor (1723-1801)
  • Wolf Caspar Abraham von Gersdorf (1704–1784)
  • Johanna Magdalena von Gersdorf (1706–1744)
  • Andreas Grasmann (1704–1783)
  • Johann Geletzky (life dates unknown)
  • Johann Horn (1490–1547)
  • Henriette Maria Luise von Hayn (1724–1782)
  • Michael Henrici (life data unknown)
  • Otto Wilhelm Hasse († 1743)
  • Johann Andreas Huebner (1733 - ~ 1809)
  • Zacharias Gelineck (also Hirschel) (1714–1763)
  • Georg Heinrich Gottlieb Year (1801–1875)
  • Nikolaus Andreas Jäschke (1718–1762)
  • Paul Eugenius Layritz (1707–1788)
  • Johann Michael Lauterbach (1716–1787)
  • Anna Maria Lawatsch (1712–1759)
  • Severin Falk Lintrup (1700–1758)
  • Georg Heinrich Loskiel (1740–1813)
  • Lucas Libanus († 1577)
  • Philipp Heinrich Molther (1714–1780)
  • Johann Georg Ferdinand Müller (1805–1898)
  • Anna Nitschmann (1715–1760)
  • Gottfried Neumann (1687–1782)
  • Johann Nitschmann (1712–1783)
  • Georg Neißer (1715–1784)
  • Carl Nottbeck (1713–1783)
  • David Nitschmann (1696–1772)
  • Carl Heinrich von Peistel (1704–1782)
  • Johann Petsch (1720–1795)
  • Martin Polycarp († after 1606)
  • Balthasar Friedrich von Promnitz (1711–1744)
  • Johann Praetorius (1738–1782)
  • Paul Daniel Pryzelius (* 1713)
  • Georg Pilder (1716–1793)
  • Johann Friedrich Rock (1678–1749)
  • Abraham Reinecke († 1760)
  • Matthäus Stach (1711–1787)
  • August Gottlieb Spangenberg (1704–1792)
  • Hermann Reinhard Schick (1704–1771)
  • Eva Maria Spangenberg (1696–1751)
  • Joachim Schmidt (life data unknown)
  • Jakob Till (1713–1783)
  • Georg Vetter (1536–1599)
  • Michael Weisse (1488–1534)
  • Heinrich Rudolf Wilhelm Wullschläger (1805–1864)
  • Ernst Wetislaus Wilhelm von Wobeser (1727–1795)
  • Anna Thekla von Weling (1837–1900)
  • Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700–1760)
  • Christian Renatus von Zinzendorf (1727–1752)
  • Erdmuthe Dorothea von Zinzendorf (1700–1756)
  • Johann Wilhelm Zander (1716–1782)

Interdenominationalism and ecumenism

The Brothers' Unity (Moravian Church) is also actively involved in ecumenism because of its interdenominationalism, especially in numerous interdenominational missionary working groups. She is a member of the World Council of Churches , the Community of Evangelical Churches in Europe , the Conference of European Churches and the German Committee for World Day of Prayer . The worldwide Brethren Unity is a full member of the Lutheran World Federation.

The Moravian Brethren is affiliated with the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and a guest member of the Association of Evangelical Free Churches . Many Moravians also take part in the activities of the Evangelical Alliance .

The American branch of Moravian Church , Moravian Church , is a full member of the National Council of Churches of Christ and has been in full pulpit and communion fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) since 2001 and has had a full pulpit with the American Anglican Church since summer 2010 - and communion fellowship. The American Brothers Union is also a guest member of the Churches of Christ Uniting Talks.


In order to raise funds, a number of handcrafted products were and are made, which are known for their unique design.

Moravian Stars

The Moravian Star is an illuminated Advent or Christmas star of a certain geometric design. The Moravian Advent and Poinsettia stars, which are popular in many countries, are still handcrafted by a GmbH belonging to the Brüder-Unität.

Moravian paste paper

In the second half of the 18th century, paste paper was produced with a wide variety of decors, which were created using simple tools such as brushes, rollers, stamps or fingers and were called Moravian paste paper . Since it can no longer be determined with certainty today whether the respective colored paper was really made in Herrnhut or whether it is perhaps an imitation, one speaks today of Herrnhuter Art paste paper .


In the early years, the Moravians invented a number of mythical beasts that sweetened the crucified Jesus his suffering, such as the Blutwundenfischlein that were floating in the blood of Christ, which Wunderbienlein that fertilized his wounds and blood honey drawn from these, the Kreuzvöglein that Jesus on Consoling cross. Nikolaus Ludwig Count von Zinzendorf , who initially also this diminutive cult indulged, forbade finally in 1749 in a prison letter this particular by his son Renatus increasingly driven mystical diminutives .

The Herrnhut Ethnographic Museum shows the ethnographic collections of the Moravian missionaries from all over the world.

The Moravian Brethren Church has many relationships with other countries due to its distinctive missionary work. This found z. B. 1887 in Neuwied the first international soccer game on German soil.

Erich Kästner mentions that his cousin Dora, who had been sent to the Moravian boarding school by her father, returned from there very pale and drawn.

The protagonist of the internal narrative Confessions of a Beautiful Soul in Johann Wolfgang Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship Years describes herself as a Herrnhut sister .


Overview representations

  • Dietrich Meyer : Zinzendorf and the Moravian Brethren. 1700-2000. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-525-01390-8 . ( Digitized version )
  • Gisela Mettele: Cosmopolitanism or God's Kingdom. The Moravian Brethren as a global community 1727–1857 (= bourgeoisie. New series Volume 4). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-525-36844-2 (also: habilitation thesis, Chemnitz University of Technology, 2004).
  • Martin Theile: The worldwide Brothers Unity - an overview . In: New Lusatian Magazine . New episode band 4 , 2001, p. 115-122 .
  • Hans-Christoph Hahn, Hellmut Reichel (eds.): Zinzendorf and the Moravian brothers. Sources on the history of the Brothers Unity from 1722 to 1760. Wittig, Hamburg 1977, ISBN 3-8048-4137-6 .
  • Heinz Renkewitz (Ed.): The Brothers Unity (= The Churches of the World . Series A, Volume 5). Evangelisches Verlags-Werk, Stuttgart 1967.
  • Adolf Schulze: The Brothers Mission in words and pictures. Verlag der Missionsbuchhandlung, Herrnhut 1913 ( digitized version ).
  • Johann Konrad Hegner: continuation of David Cranzens brothers history. 3 volumes. Barby 1791-1804. Google
  • David Cranz : Old and New Brothers History or Brief History of the Evangelical Brothers Unity. 1st edition, Laux, Barby 1771. Archives . 2nd edition, Barby 1772. Reprint with a foreword by Gerhard Meyer. Hildesheim, New York: Olms 1973 ISBN 3-487-04619-9 . Google
  • David Cranz: Short, reliable message from the Church Unitas Fratrum, known under the name of the Bohemian-Moravian Brothers, coming from, doctrinal concept, external and internal church constitution and customs ... 1757. ( digitized )

Individual areas



  • David Cranz : History of Greenland containing the description of the country and the inhabitants etc. in particular the history of the mission of the Evangelical Brothers there to New Herrnhut and Lichtenfels. 2nd Edition. Barby: Ehlers, 1770 (digital copies as PDF: Vol. 1 (PDF; 42.2 MB), Vol. 2 ; PDF; 25.3 MB)

Latin America

  • Benjamin Tillman: Imprints on Native Lands: The Miskito-Moravian Settlement Landscape in Honduras. University of Arizona Press, Tuscon 2011.


  • Otto Teigeler: The Moravians in Russia. The aim, scope and output of their activities. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2006. Google


  • Birgit A. Schulte: The Silesian branches of the Moravian Brethren Gnadenberg, Gnadenfeld and Gnadenfrei. Examples of a religious form of settlement (=  sources and representations of Silesian history . Volume 31 ). Degener, Insingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-7686-3502-8 (At the same time: Master's thesis, University of Trier, 2003: Religions shape (t) en spaces. ).
  • Johann Adam Hensel: Protestant Church History of the Common in Silesia. D. Siegerts, Leipzig / Liegnitz 1768.


  • David Cranz : Journey through Graubünden in 1757. A testimony from the history of the Moravians in Switzerland
New edition: With historical and biographical explanations ed. by Holger Finze-Michaelsen. Zurich: Theol. Ed. 1996, ISBN 3-290-17151-5 .

South asia

  • Jan Hüsgen: Mission and Slavery. The Moravian Community and the emancipation of slaves in the British and Danish West Indies . Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-515-11272-7 .
  • Martin Krieger : From the “Brüdergarten” to the Nicobar Islands. The Moravian Brothers in South Asia . In: Stephan Conermann (Ed.): The Indian Ocean in historical perspective (=  Asia and Africa. Contributions by the Center for Asian and African Studies (ZAAS) at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel . Volume 1 ). EB-Verlag, Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-930826-44-5 , p. 209–245 (partly German and partly English).


  • Peter Vogt: Evangelical spirituality with Nikolaus Ludwig Graf von Zinzendorf (1700–1760) and the Moravian Brethren of his time . In: Peter Zimmerling (Hrsg.): Handbook Evangelical Spirituality , Vol. 1: History . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2017, ISBN 978-3-525-56719-7 , pp. 438-460.
  • Ralph Ludwig: The Moravian. How Nikolaus von Zinzendorf invented the slogans. Wichern-Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-88981-274-2 .
  • Martin H. Jung : Pietism (=  Fischer. Fischer compact ). Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-596-16130-4 (pp. 21–26: The Herrnhut settlement in Upper Lusatia , pp. 56–63: Portrait of Nikolaus Ludwig Graf von Zinzendorf ).


  • Thomas Dorfner: From “bad sectarians” to “hard-working manufacturers”. On the change in perception of the Moravian Brethren in the context of cameralistic peuplication policy (approx. 1750–1800). In: Journal for Historical Research. Volume 45, No. 2, 2018, pp. 283-313.
  • Thomas Dorfner: "Commercium according to the meaning of Jesus". Reflections on the market behavior of the Brethren using the example of the Labrador trade. In: Yearbook for Economic History. Volume 61, No. 1, 2020, pp. 39-66.

Web links

Commons : Churches of the Moravian Brethren  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. See Hedwig Richter : Pietism in Socialism: The Moravian Brotherhood in the GDR. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-525-37007-0 , p. 32.
  2. Nelson Mandela : Address by President Nelson Mandela to the Provincial Synod of the Moravian Church in South Africa, Port Elizabeth . on (english, afrikaans, isiXhosa)
  3. College History ( Memento June 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), on
  4. a b For the first time, Mrs. ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) In: Evangelischer Pressedienst (epd). January 16, 2007.
  5. The Worldwide Brothers Unity 2016 , newsletter of the Moravian Missionary Aid from December 3, 2016.
  6. ↑ In the parlance of the Brethren, the term local congregation denotes a place that is founded and / or exclusively inhabited by its members or was originally. Cf. Hedwig Richter: Pietism in Socialism: The Moravian Brotherhood in the GDR. Vandenbroeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-525-37007-0 , p. 13.
  7. Karl Schwarz: Squaring the circle under cultic law? Comments on the legal recognition of the Moravian Brethren Church in 1880 . In: Austrian Archives for Law & Religion 2003, pp. 481–496,
  8. APD - Adventists in Austria apply for full state recognition Vienna / Austria,, December 16, 2008
  9. ^ Richard Potz , Brigitte Schinkele: Religionsrecht at a glance. 2nd, revised edition. Facultas, Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-7089-0045-2 , p. 49.
  10. Federal Law Gazette II No. 31/2012
  11. Herrnhuter Brethren in Switzerland , on
  12. Holger Finze-Michaelsen: in Bündner Kalender 1994, pp. 57–64
  13. Paul Wernle : The history of the Moravians in Basel. Basel Journal of History and Archeology, accessed on May 27, 2020 .
  14. Erika Hebeisen: Cross-border partnership formation. Moravian Brothers Association in Basel. Basel Journal of History and Archeology, accessed on May 27, 2020 .
  15. Cornelis Schellinger, Moravian Financier in: This month in Moravian History, Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pa., July 2010
  16. Paul O'Neil et al: The way to the west. Time-Life International, Amsterdam 1979, ISBN 90-6182-522-9 , pp. 93 f.
  17. Gisela Mettele: Weltbürgertum or God's Kingdom: the Moravian Brethren as a global community 1727-1857 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009, ISBN 978-3-525-36844-2 ( [accessed July 31, 2018]).
  18. ^ The Moravian: Moravian Church in North America ( Memento April 15, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (English).
  19. ^ Paul Peuker: Women Priests in the Moravian Church in 1758. In: Moravian Messenger. ( Memento of December 3, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 789 kB) June 2009.
  20. Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf: Some sermons held since 1751 by the Ordinario fratrum in London in three main departments. Volume 1. Seminario Theologico, Barby / London 1756, p. 294 , (Reprinted in: Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf: Hauptschriften. In 6 volumes. Edited by Erich Beyreuther and Gerhard Meyer. Volume 5: Londoner Sermons. Olms, Hildesheim 1963).
  21. Idea: Brothers Unity: Homo blessings are possible in the future
  22. Angelika Dörfler-Dierken: Souls for the "Lammsgemein". Zinzendorf was born three hundred years ago. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . No. 122, May 26, 2000, p. 66, (PDF; 15 KB).
  23. ^ Jung: Pietism. 2005, pp. 25/26.
  24. ^ Völkerkundemuseum Herrnhut
  25. ^ City of Neuwied: Moravian Quarter
  26. Erich Kästner : When I was a little boy .
  27. Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Complete works according to epochs of his work, vol. 5. Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, ed. v. Hans-Jürgen Schings. Munich 1988, p. 400.