This knowledge database shares a wide variety of data about the churches, conciliar and confessional bodies related to the WCC (statistics on church memberships, number of churches, congregations, pastors, links, etc.), as well as information about the different regions and countries they represent.

Moravian churches

The Unitas Fratrum, or Moravian Church, is that branch of the Christian church which began its distinct life in Bohemia (central Europe) in the year 1457. It was born of the great revival of faith at the close of the Middle Ages, arising from the national revival of religion in Bohemia, in which the writings of Wycliffe had great influence, and of which John Hus was the greatest leader. Within the movement Peter of Chelcic represented the traditions of Eastern puritanism and freedom from official control in matters of religion. Amidst these influences, the Unitas Fratrum (Latin for "community - or fellowship - of brothers") was founded, under the leadership of Gregory the Patriarch, with a three-fold ideal of faith, fellowship and freedom, and a strong emphasis on practical Christian life rather than on doctrinal thought or church tradition. Its numbers grew rapidly. The Unitas Fratrum sought to maintain a living contact with the early church. It obtained from the Waldenses (see the description of the Waldensian Church) the traditional orders of the ministry, including the episcopacy, and thus became an independent ecclesiastical body.

In the troubled period of the reaction against the Reformation, times of persecution alternated with times of comparative calm, until at last in 1620 the Unitas Fratrum with other Protestant bodies was utterly suppressed. A "Hidden Seed" survived in Bohemia and neighbouring Moravia, to emerge a hundred years later in the Renewed Church. Between 1722 and 1727, some families from Moravia, who had kept the traditions of the old Unitas Fratrum, found a place of refuge in Saxony (Germany), on the estate of Nicolaus Ludwig, Count Zinzendorf. Other people of widely differing views also found there a place of religious freedom, but their differences threatened to make it a place of strife until a profound and decisive experience of unity was given them in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on August 13, 1727. From this experience of conscious unity came a zeal for remarkable missionary outreach, beginning among slaves on the island of St Thomas in the West Indies in 1732. Within a single decade the missionary effort was extended to Greenland, Suriname, South Africa, Western Africa, Algeria, Arctic Russia, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and among Africans and the indigenous population in North America.

The Moravian Church has asserted throughout its history that Christian fellowship recognizes no barrier of nation or race. The Unitas Fratrum cherishes its unity as a valuable treasure entrusted to it by the Lord. It stands for the oneness of all humankind given by the reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Therefore the ecumenical movement is of its very lifeblood. A simple statement titled "The Ground of the Unity" is the church's basic doctrinal statement and "The Covenant for Christian Living," which dates back to the renewal of 1732, sets forth guiding principles for common life and witness.



Last updated: 1.1.2006