Moravian Church in Western Europe

Church family:Moravian churches
Based in:Germany
Present in:

About membership

Statistics of church membership, number of churches, congregations, pastors, etc. are those given by the churches and organizations, unless otherwise indicated. WCC member churches have various ways of defining their membership: state churches in which virtually every citizen is baptized and thus counted as a member, churches which include in their membership persons who are baptized but not actively participating, churches in which only adult baptized or communicant members are counted, etc. No attempt has been made to classify the membership figures in such categories, because agreed upon indicators to so do not exist.

Member of:
 WCC (1948) 
Associate member of:
Periodicals:Moravian Daily Texts (since 1731), Herrnhuter Bote (in German)
Website: www.ebu.de

The Unitas Fratrum, founded in 1457, has its origins in the Reformation of Jan Hus. Its members were scattered during the Thirty Years War in Europe and found refuge in 1722 in Herrnhut, a community established by Count Zinzendorf (1700-1760), one of the leaders of German pietism. Reacting to rationalism and formalism in the Protestant churches of his time, Zinzendorf proclaimed a "religion of the heart" based on an intimate fellowship with the Saviour as creator, sustainer and redeemer of the world. He was forced by circumstances to build a separate organization, but continued to maintain a close relationship with Lutheranism. His emphasis on the place of feeling in religion infused new life into Protestantism and profoundly influenced 19th century German theology. He was also a forerunner of the 20th century ecumenical movement. Zinzendorf travelled widely through Europe and the United States. The Moravian Community in Herrnhut was one of the first Protestant churches to start overseas missionary work, as early as 1732. The many mission fields developed into the worldwide Moravian Church, with provinces in almost all continents.

Today the European Continental Province (EFBU in German) consists of congregations and missionary organizations in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Estonia. Missionary work connected with the province is done in Albania and Latvia. There are special relationships with congregations and homes of the Moravian church in the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Palestine, Surinam and Tanzania. Newsletters are circulated among members and friends of the Moravian Church. Diaconal homes offer care for the sick, disabled, mentally disturbed and elderly people. Primary and secondary schools give education to children from different backgrounds. Missionary activities are important too, especially where the proclamation of the gospel goes along with the improvement of the living conditions of the people and the struggle against all forms of discrimination and poverty.

The EFBU maintains ecumenical contacts in the all regions and helps to bring churches together. About one million copies of the Moravian daily texts are distributed in the countries of the province. Now there are translations of the daily texts in more than 50 languages worldwide. The Herrnhut archives occupy a special position in the worldwide Moravian Church as the official repository of historical documents relating to the unity of the church.

In the past four decades, developments in the Netherlands have brought new perspectives, because of the immigration of members from the Moravian Church in Surinam. Among these groups are members with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, especially Indonesian, Hindu and Marroon (descendants of runaway slaves). Most of the members of the EFBU are now in the Netherlands (about 25,000).

Since 2005 the European Continental Province of the Moravian Church and the British Province of the Moravian Church hold joint membership in the World Council of Churches, under the name "Moravian Church in Western Europe".

Last updated:01/01/06