Open Minds, Warm Hearts
At Messiah, we believe that we all have our own unique relationship with God, and with Christ. We seek to be open-minded toward one another’s personal faith and beliefs, even when they differ from our own, recognizing that our differences can be a source of new insight. We also seek to be open-minded as we learn and grow in faith.
We value contemporary biblical and theological scholarship as we wrestle with the difficult questions of faith in Sunday morning classes, through the pastor’s sermons, and in study groups. We believe that following Jesus is a way of life, not simply a set of beliefs or doctrines. Our guide for living our lives as followers of Jesus is the centuries old motto: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, love.”
We each have the liberty to understand faith in our own way, but it is our love for one another which makes us disciples of Jesus. “By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:55
Since we believe that following Jesus is a way of life, our lives should reflect his life. The life of Jesus was filled with care and compassion for others, especially the poor and those in need. Jesus said, “As you minister to one of the least of these, you minister to me.” Matthew 25:40.
The heart of our calling at Messiah is a ministry of care and compassion for others in our own congregation, in our city, our nation and our world. We challenge our members to discover and use their gifts through the outreach ministries of the congregation, or in volunteer work in the larger community. We seek to nurture warm hearts, not only in our adult members but also in our children.
From pre-kindergarten through the college years, our children and youth are involved in service at local nursing homes, homeless shelters, clean-up of city parks, mission trips, preparing back-packs for needy children, writing letters to soldiers, or wherever there is a need. We believe that we love God with all our heart, and strength and mind by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Messiah Moravian Church began in 1951 with a group of thirty members of the community meeting in a former hardware store on Robinhood Road. They moved to the present church property on Peace Haven Road in 1953, with what is now the fellowship hall serving as the first sanctuary. The existing sanctuary was built in 1964.
The Moravian Church began in the 15th century in what was then Czechoslovakia. Jan Hus, a Roman Catholic priest in Prague, found himself unable to obey the official Church teaching that only the priest could drink from the chalice during communion. Believing that all are equal in the eyes of God, Hus began inviting the laity to also drink from the chalice. He also defied Church teaching that the Mass must be said in Latin. Since the members of the congregation only spoke Czech, Hus also celebrated the Mass in the language of the people. For these and other practices, Hus was burned at the stake for heresy in 1415.
His followers, known as Hussites, followed in his footsteps. Because of continued persecution, they moved from Prague to the Czech district of Moravia, from which the name Moravian is derived. In 1457, the Hussites formally broke away from the Roman Church, calling themselves the Unitas Fratrum (the Unity of the Brethren). Honoring each person’s own relationship with Christ, rather than conformity to Church teaching, was the core belief. Guided by the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, the Unitas Fratrum sought to live simply and in unity, believing that love for one another was the greatest witness to one’s Christian faith. By the end of the 15th century, the Moravian Church had grown to nearly 200,000 members.
Continued persecution force them into exile in Poland where, by the mid-16th century, the Unitas Fratrum had nearly died out. In 1722, a German Count named Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, invited these Polish refugees to his estate in Germany. By 1727, the Moravian Church had been renewed and missionaries were soon sent to the Caribbean and to the new American Colonies. The Moravian Church in America has always been a small denomination with primary concentrations in two cities founded by Moravians: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While there are about 45,000 Moravians in North America, the world-wide Moravian Church has more than 800,000 members.
Moravians are known for their unique customs of celebrating lovefeasts, brass bands at church festivals and funerals, bees wax candles, Moravian cookies and sugar cake, and Easter sunrise services. But, above all the Moravian Church is known as a Christian community committed to living in unity with one another and serving the needs of others throughout the world.