Rather than concentrating on divisive doctrines, the Moravian Church preaches the basics of the faith, which all Christians share in common. Moravians are encouraged to live out their faith through service to those in need. Our mission work has concentrated on the poor and the powerless, and groups largely unreached by other denominations.
The Moravian Church was organized in 1457 by the followers of the martyr John Hus, as the Unity of Brethren. The denomination came to be known as the "Moravian" Church many years later, in the Eighteenth Century, because most of its members came from the province of Moravia, now the Czech Republic. The Moravian Church has often stood at the forefront of the Protestant world. The denomination was among the first to publish the Bible in the common language, and the first to print common language hymnals. They were early in their emphasis on educating women as well as men; and they were pioneers of the Protestant mission movement. Moravians have worked for Christian unity throughout their history, and are founding members of the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches.
Moravians have a long tradition of ministering to the needy. Missionaries were sent to the new world as early as the 1700's.
In 1995 the Unity Synod declared:
The Moravian Church is a living church with a mission relevant to the everyday life of all humanity. Therefore the Church will, and must, meet the demands made upon it as a whole by ministering to the spiritual, social, physical and economic needs of humanity. This total ministry will express itself in the preaching of the Word, the healing of the sick, the education of both the young and adults to fit them to face life in a competitive society and by social service to the needy in mind and body.
Good Shepherd Church supports Calgary service agencies such as the Mustard Seed Ministry and the Sheriff King Home for Battered Women. It also supports worldwide concerns as needs arise.
To become a Christian one needs to accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
Moravians also believe in eight basic truths:
The last phrase of the motto states that life should be conducted first and foremost with love of God, love of oneself and love of others.
Moravian SealThe seal of the Moravian Church goes back to the sixteenth century, possibly earlier. In the center is the Lamb of God, a favorite symbol of the early Christian church. A lamb is holding a staff, and from the staff waves a banner of victory. On the banner a cross is clearly displayed.
The uniqueness of the lamb symbol for Moravians is the inscription attached (often in a circular band): Vicit agnus noster, eum sequamur, "Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow him." It is found on church publications, stained glass windows of churches, and among other appointments.
Good Shepherd Church displays the seal in the Philip Taylor Memorial window at the head of the sanctuary.
Advent StarLighted stars, symbolizing Christ as the Light of the world, are hung in Moravian churches and homes. Their beauty is universal and they also appear in non-Moravian homes and establishments.
The stars most likely originated in a Moravian school in Niesky Germany in the 1850's.
Stars are available from the Moravian Book Shop.
The PutzMany Moravians recreate the Nativity Scene by assembling a putz in their homes or place of worship.
A special putz is created by Good Shepherd Church member, Dale Taylor. This large, elaborate putz, represents many aspects of the coming of the Christ Child. Dale opens her home during Advent season for putz viewing.
Christmas Eve Candlelight ServicesThe candlelight service is one of the highlights of the worship calendar.
Beeswax candles trimmed in a skirt of fireproof red or white paper remind worshipers of the purity and sacrificial gift of Christ.
At Good Shepherd Church, each worshiper receives a candle from a server. A flame originating from a candle near the front of the sanctuary is passed from candle to candle until all are lit. The sanctuary is then darkened. The aesthetic effect of softly glowing candles lighting the faces of young and old proclaiming Christ as the Light of the World is unforgettable.
At this point the traditional Moravian hymn "Morning Star" is sung. This responsive hymn lead by in solo or duet (traditionally sung by children) lights one's heart to match the candle one holds.
Good Shepherd offers an early service geared towards families with small children and a later, more traditional service.
Good Shepherd celebrates sunrise service each year on Nose Hill Park. Easter is also celebrated during the regular 10:30 worship.
Lovefeasts are still celebrated today. The basic structure is singing alternately by congregation and choirs. There usually is no sermon, but it is common to address missions. After an opening hymn and a prayer, sacristans or dieners serve the worshipers a sweet bun and beverage. After all are served, the congregation partakes in unison demonstrating the congregations family spirit and promoting Christian fellowship.
Good Shepherd Church has Lovefeasts on occasion. A special Children's Lovefeast has been held during the early Christmas Eve service. In this case, juice and Rice Krispie squares are served.
Information source: All About the Moravians by Edwin A. Sawyer.
Copies available at Good Shepherd Church office. Phone 403 274-4888.
Reprinted by permission of the Interprovincial Board of Communication,
Moravian Church in America © 2000.
Roxann L. Miller, director
Interprovincial Board of Communication
Moravian Church in America
Phone: 610-867-0593, ext 28
PO Box 1245
Bethlehem, PA 18016
For more information about the Moravian Church, go the
Moravian Church in North America Home Page
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