Thursday, June 9, 2016

@Schoenbrunn Village: Who were the Moravians?

Schoenbrunn Village:
The Moravians

A cabin at Schroenbrunn Village (Public Domain)
          Schoenbrunn Village was the first Christian settlement in Ohio. It was founded in 1772 by Moravian missionaries and Delaware Christian converts led by David Zeisberger. The area of land in which Schoenbrunn was founded had belonged to the Delaware. Their chief, Chief Netawatwes, had invited Zeisberger to the area and gave the land to the Moravians. David Zeisberger accepted the land offer under one condition - the Delaware could not interfere with the village. They Moravians and their Christian Indians wanted to be completely free of drunk Indians and hostilities by the Non-Christian Delaware. Chief Netawatwes agreed. By the end of 1772, Schroenbrunn Village housed 92 inhabitants. It would eventually peak with a total of 300 people. 

         Schroenbrunn Village was located in a placed of neutrality between the Ohio Indians and British settlers.  Yet, Schoenbrunn wasn't completely safe. Setters did't approve of the sanctuary for Christianized Delaware and Non-Christian Native Americans didn't appreciate Zeisberger's efforts to convert their neighbors. Just who were the Moravians?

The Moravians

         The Moravian Church was founded by Jan Hus, the first church reformer, during the 15th century in Bohemia. Bohemia is located in present day Austria - Hungry. Hus was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415 for heresy against the doctrines of the Catholic Church. His followers, known as Hussites, continued to stand against the Catholic Church teachings and rebelled against Catholic rulers. By 1440, 90% of the people living in Czech lands were non-Catholics and followed Jan Hus' model of Christianity. 

         The name if the Moravian Church comes from the exiles who followed Hus' model of Christianity. These exiles fled to Saxony (located in modern day Germany) from Moravia (Modern dayCzech Republic) in order to escape from religious persecution. The Moravian Church is one of the oldest Protestant denominations in the modern world. It's founder, Jan Hus, is considered the first Church reformer because he lived before Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. The Catholic Church continued to persecute Hus' followers throughout the centuries and the communities were forced underground. 

         The dwindling fate of the Moravian Church changed for the better during the 18th century. In 1722, a remnant of a small group of Moravians living in northern Moravia approached Count Nikolaus Ludwig, Reichsgraf von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf with a request to settle on his lands. Ludwig was a devout Piet who followed a personal commitment to help the poor and needy. He agreed. The Moravians established Hernhut. Hernhut's population grew steady but it wasn't without problems. 
Hernhut (Public Domain)

       The people had major religious disagreements that threaten to tear apart the city with it's major divisions. Count Zinzendorf worked diligently with the population by establishing the Brotherly Agreement, a document that was meant to bring peace and unity. On August 13, 1727, the community experienced a revival often described as being similar to the one recorded in the Bible on the day of Pentecost. The inhabitants mysterious learned to get along and were visited by the Holy Spirit. Hernhut's population grew rapidly after the revival. 

        The Moravians were the first Protestant church to establish missionaries. In 1732, the Moravians sent their very first missionaries into the world. Their village population only had about 300 people at the time. They established their first missionary settlement in the West Indie. Three years later, the Moravians were became part of General Olgethorpe's venture into Georgia. They tried to establish a settlement close to Savannah but did not succeed. In 1741, the Moravians left Georgia and established a permanent settlement in Pennsylvania. They eventually established more settlements in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Ohio. Worldwide, Missionaries were sent to the Caribbean, North and South America, the Arctic, Far East and Africa.

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