We believe deeply in Jesus Christ as a Savior and Lord,
but we do not seek to define every aspect of doctrine and faith. We teach the
essentials of faith, leaving the nonessentials to the individual believer to
discern as they grow in their own spiritual journey. We believe that the manner
in which we live our lives is the most important testimony. Those who live a
life of love and respect for others testify more clearly of God than those who
only preach doctrines.
The motto of the Moravian Church is: "In
essentials, UNITY. In non-essentials, LIBERTY. In all things, LOVE."
The Moravian Church emphasizes only those core values that
are made clear in the Bible, especially those taught and lived by our Lord Jesus
Christ, who we regard to be the highest and best revelation of the nature of
God. Issues that are not made clear in the Bible, particularly those that have
historically divided the Church, are left to the individual believer. For
example, the Moravian Church is one of the only denominations that does not
teach a specific understanding of communion; people of Roman Catholic, Lutheran,
or Baptist backgrounds are welcome to meet at the Lordís Table where each
understanding of Communion will be respected.
Some of our basic beliefs are contained in a document
known as The Ground of the Unity.
The Moravian Church is a EVANGELICAL church, which means
that we actively seek to share the wonderful news of Christ with others. We
believe that all people need to turn their hearts toward God and discover for
themselves the amazing grace that Christ brings. However, in recent years this
term has become associated with the "religious right." This is not who we are;
we seek to share Christís love in gentle friendship. We do not browbeat, and we
donít use the Bible as a weapon to humiliate others or denigrate those who have
different beliefs. You wonít hear sermons about hell Ė but you will be
challenged to change your life to better express the love of God.
The Moravian Church does not focus so much on "right
doctrine," but rather on "right living." Rather than signing on to a list of
beliefs, members are asked to agree to a standard of life known as
The Moravian Covenant for
The Ground of the Unity
(Church Order of the Unitas Fratrum,
Section I, Part I)
- The Lord Jesus Christ calls His Church
into being so that it may serve Him here on earth until He comes. The Unitas
Fratrum is, therefore, aware of its being called in faith to serve humanity by
proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It recognizes this call to be the
source of its being and the inspiration of its services. As is the source, so
is the aim and end of its being based upon the will of its Lord.
The Belief of the Church
- With the whole of Christendom we share
faith in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe and confess
that God has revealed Himself once and for all in His son Jesus Christ, that
our Lord has redeemed us with the whole of humanity by His death and His
resurrection; and that there is no salvation apart from Him. We believe that
He is present with us in the Word and the Sacrament that He directs and unites
us through His Spirit and thus forms us into a Church. We hear Him summoning
us to follow Him, and pray Him to use us in His service. He joins us together
mutually so that knowing ourselves to be members of His body we become willing
to serve each other.
In the light of divine grace, we recognize ourselves to
be a Church of sinners. We require forgiveness daily, and live only through
the mercy of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. He redeems us from our isolation
and unites us into a living Church of Jesus Christ.
- The belief of the Church is effected and
preserved through the testimony of Jesus Christ and through the work of the
Holy Spirit. This testimony calls each individual personally, and leads him or
her to the recognition of sin and to the acceptance of the redemption achieved
by Christ. In fellowship with Him the love of Christ becomes more and more the
power of the new life, power that penetrates and shapes the entire person. As
God's spirit so effects living belief in the hearts of individuals, He grants
them the privilege to share in the fruits of Christ's salvation and membership
in His body.
God's Word and Doctrine
- The Triune God as revealed in the Holy
Scripture of the Old and New Testaments is the only source of our life and
salvation; and this Scripture is the sole standard of the doctrine and faith,
of the Unitas Fratrum and therefore shapes our life.
The Unitas Fratrum recognizes the Word of the Cross as
the center of Holy Scriptures and of all preaching of the Gospel and it sees
its primary mission, and its reason for being, to consist in bearing witness
to this joyful message. We ask our Lord for power never to stray from this.
The Unitas Fratrum takes part in the continual search
for sound doctrine. In interpreting Scripture and in the communication of
doctrine in the Church, we look to two millennia of ecumenical Christian
tradition in the wisdom of our Moravian forebears in the faith to guide us as
we pray for fuller understanding and ever clearer proclamation of the Gospel
of Jesus Christ. But just as the Holy Scripture does not contain any doctrinal
system, so the Unitas Fratrum also has not developed any of its own. It knows
that the mystery of Jesus Christ, which is attested to in the Bible, cannot be
comprehended completely by any human mind or expressed completely in any human
statement. Also it is true that through the Holy Spirit the recognition of
God's will for salvation in the Bible is revealed completely and clearly.
Creeds and Confessions
- The Unitas Fratrum recognizes in the
creeds of the Church the thankful acclaim of the Body of Christ. These creeds
aid the church in formulating a Scriptural confession, in marking the boundary
of heresies, and in exhorting believers to an obedient and fearless testimony
in every age. The Unitas Fratrum maintains that all creeds formulated by the
Christian Church stand in need of constant testing in the light of the Holy
Scriptures. It acknowledges as such true professions of faith the early
Christian witness: "Jesus Christ is Lord!" and also especially the ancient
Christian creeds and the fundamental creeds of the Reformation.
* *NOTE: In the various Provinces of the renewed Unitas
Fratrum the following creeds in particular gained special importance, because
in them the main doctrines of the Christian faith find clear and simple
The Apostles' Creed
The Athanasian Creed
The Nicene Creed
The Confession of the Unity of the Bohemian Brethren of 1535
The Twenty-One Articles of the unaltered Augsburg Confession
The Shorter Catechism of Martin Luther
The Synod of Berne of 1532
The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England
The Theological Declaration of Barmen of 1934
The Heidelberg Catechism
The Unitas Fratrum as a Unity
- We believe in and confess the Unity of
the Church, given in the one Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior. He died that
He might unite the scattered children of God. As the living Lord and Shepherd,
He is leading His flock toward such unity.
The Unitas Fratrum espoused such unity when it took over
the name of the Old Bohemian Brethren's Church, 'Unitas Fratrum' (Unity of the
Brethren). Nor can we ever forget the powerful unifying experience granted by
the crucified and risen Lord to our forebears in Herrnhut on the occasion of
the Holy Communion of August 13, 1727, in Berthelsdorf.
It is the Lord's will that Christendom should give
evidence of and seek unity in Him with zeal and love. In our own midst we see
how such unity has been promised us and laid upon us as a charge. We recognize
that through the grace of Christ the different churches have received many
gifts. It is our desire that we may learn from each other and rejoice together
in the riches of the love of Christ and the manifold wisdom of God. We confess
our shared guilt, which is manifest in the severed and divided state of
Christendom. By means of such divisions we ourselves hinder the message and
power of the gospel. We recognize the danger of self-righteousness and judging
others without love. Since we together with all Christendom are pilgrims on
the way to meet our coming Lord, we welcome every step that brings us nearer
the goal of unity in Him. He Himself invites us to communion in His supper.
Through it He leads the Church toward that union which He has promised. By
means of His presence in the Holy Communion, He makes our unity in Him evident
and certain even today.
The Church as a Fellowship
- The Church of Jesus Christ, despite all
the distinctions between male and female, poor and rich, and people of
different ethnic origin, is one in the Lord. The Unitas Fratrum recognizes no
distinction between those who are one in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called
to testify that God in Jesus Christ brings His people out of every ethnic
origin and language into one body, pardons sinners beneath the Cross and
brings them together. We oppose any discrimination in our midst because of
ethnic origin, sex or social standing, and we regard it as a commandment of
the Lord to bear public witness to this and to demonstrate by word and deed
that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Church as a Community of Service
- Jesus Christ came not to be served but to
serve. From this, His Church receives its mission and its power for its
service, to which each of its members is called. We believe that the Lord has
called us particularly to mission service among the peoples of the world. In
this, and in all other forms of service both at home and abroad, to which the
Lord commits us, He expects us to confess Him and witness to His love in
Serving our Neighbor
- Our Lord Jesus entered into this world's
misery to bear it and to overcome it. We seek to follow Him in serving His
brothers and sisters. Like the love of Jesus, this service knows no bounds.
Therefore we pray the Lord ever anew to point to us the way to reach our
neighbors, opening our hearts and hands to them in their need.
Serving the World
- Jesus Christ maintains in love and
faithfulness His commitment to this fallen world. Therefore we must remain
concerned for this world. We may not withdraw from it through indifference,
pride or fear. Together with the universal Christian Church, the Unitas
Fratrum challenges humanity with the message of the love of God, striving to
promote the peace of the world and seeking to attain what is best for all. For
the sake of this world, the Unitas Fratrum hopes for and looks to the day when
the victory of Christ will be manifest over sin and death and the new world
- Jesus Christ is the one Lord and Head of
His Body, the Church. Because of this, the Church owes no allegiance to any
authority whatsoever which opposes His dominion. The Unitas Fratrum treasures
in its history the vital experience of the Headship of Christ of
September 16 and
November 13, 1741.
The Unitas Fratrum recognizes that it is called into
being and has been sustained hitherto only by the incomprehensible grace of
God. Thanksgiving and praise for this grace remains the keynote of its life
In this spirit it awaits the appearing of Jesus Christ,
goes forward to meet its Lord with joy, and prays to be found ready when He
The Moravian Covenant for Christian Living
Formerly known as The Brotherly Agreement of
the Moravian Church
Covenant for Christian Living is an attempt to state in clear arrangement
and contemporary form a document which has long served the Moravian Church. The
Church today has need of a clear statement of its faith and life through which
each member may become aware of the nature of his/her Christian commitment. Such
a document can become an invaluable aid in the instruction of both new and
present members and a meaningful guide in the expression of the Christian life.
That such a revision of the Agreement should
have been made is entirely in harmony with the spirit of the early Moravian
Church which believed that all forms should be updated and made relevant to the
present life of the Church.
Covenant in its original form was adopted by the Moravian Church at
Herrnhut, Saxony, as the Brotherly Agreement on
May 12 of the year that marked the Church's spiritual renewal, 1727. The
Covenant was not intended to be a "discipline"
forced on the congregation from above, but rather an "agreement" into which the
members entered voluntarily. This pervades the new
Covenant, which in itself is only a recommended form, to be voluntarily
accepted by each of the local congregations before it becomes effective for
their congregational life.
Most of the
Covenant deals with the Christian life, and since it is in terms of
everyday life that the Christian witness is often most effectively borne, the
document is subtitled "Principles by Which We Live and Bear Our Witness." The
theme of "witness" is carried out in all the sections. The introductory section,
"Ground of Our Witness," deals briefly with the faith and doctrine of the
Moravian Church, something that is not explicitly dealt with in older forms of
the Covenant. Section I, "The Witness of the
Christian Life," describes the "how" of the life in Christ and thus forms a
basis for all that follows. The following sections then consider various areas
of Christian responsibility. Section II deals largely with Christian
responsibility in the local congregation and in relation to Christians of other
churches; III, responsibility in the home; IV, one's duties as a citizen; and V,
as a Christian in the world.