The Moravian Mission and the Moravian Church in Southern Africa

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The Moravian Church traces its roots back to very early reformist movements in Bohemia and Moravia (today in the Czech Republic) linked to Johann Hus. The movement, generally referred to as the Bohemian or Moravian brothers, survived the initial attempts to have it destroyed by the Catholic church. After the Reformation had swept large parts of Europe, the Counter-Reformation nearly succeeded in destroying the remnants of this brotherhood which scattered to remote areas throughout Bohemia and Moravia.

In the early 18th Century, Count Zinzendorf became involved with the pietist movement and allowed the Bohemian brothers to settle on his lands in the Lausitz area of Germany, just north of Bohemia. The town of Herrnhut (Lord's protection) was established. Very soon the Bohemian brothers became convinced that they should send missionaries out into the world and thereby became one of the first active missionary societies.

The Moravian Mission was the first missionary society in South Africa when one of its missionaries, Georg Schmidt, established a mission station at Baviaanskloof (later renamed Genadendal = Valley of Grace) in the Cape Province in 1737. After some confrontations with neighbouring Boer farmers and the dominant Dutch Reformed Church, Schmidt was forced to leave the Cape. When the Moravians were allowed to return in 1792, the missionaries found remnants of the first missionary congregation still active. From Genadendal the mission spread throughout the Cape colony. Here is a List of Moravian Missionaries who came to South Africa during the 19th Century.

The Moravian Church in South Africa of today has two regions (Western and Eastern) and is largely confined to the old Cape Province. Even though it is an independent church, it has historical links to the Lutheran church going back many years. It is a member of LUCSA.

Contact: Mr. L. Mcubusi, President of the Moravian Church.

Also visit Genadendal or Elim in South Africa, or Unitas Fratrum - the worldwide Moravian Church.


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