OLD MORAVIAN CHURCH

Moravian church - UNITAS FRATRUM - was born out of big religious awakening in Bohemia (Hussite movement). Influenced by the teaching of Petr of Chelcic, it was established by Brother Gregory in Kunwald in north-eastern Bohemia in 1457.   The little group underlined triple ideal of faith, love and hope with strong emphasis on practical christian life more than teachings or a church tradition. The community was growing and expanding in Bohemia and Moravia.
Among the most distinguished representatives were Luke of Prague, John Augusta, John Blahoslav and J.A. Comenius.  Moravian church however did not enjoy the religious freedom for a long time. A cruel counter-reformation after the battle of the White Hill disabled its existence together with all the other protestant churches. Many people left their home country as exiles, some stayed at home and tried to keep their faith in secret. They were reinforced from abroad, encouraged by the Bible and inspired by the secret meetings. By this way they survived through the centuries.
 
More details can be found in following publications: 
Rican, Rudolf. The History of the Unity of the Brethren. Kalich, Prague 1957
Müller, Dr. Jos. Th. The History of the Unity of Brethren. Translated from the German original (written by the Director of the Moravian Church Archives in Herrnhut) by Dr. F.M. Bartoš, Prague: Jednota bratrská, 1923
Molnár, A. Moravian brothers. KEFB Praha 1952
 

RENEWED MORAVIAN CHURCH

From the years 1722 till 1727 some families from Moravia, specifically from Fulnek and other places, who preserved the traditions of the old Moravian church, found the refuge in Saxony, on the county of Nicholas Lewis, Count of Zinzendorf. They were led by Christian David and built a village which they started to call Herrnhut (a place protected by God), in czech language "Ochranov".   It was not easy to build one church from different components, coming from various places and environment. But during celebrating the Holy Communion on the day of 13th of August 1727 the whole community was quickened and stirred by the power of the Spirit Divine.   In 1732 this christian community sent out the first missionaries to the slaves on the Island of St. Tomas in Caribbean sea. And soon they were followed by the others to Greenland, North America, South Africa and other places.
 
More details can be found in following publications:
Vančura, Václav: Obrazy z dějin Jednoty bratrské. Bratrské listy, Praha 1911
Greenfield, John: Moc s výsosti, Praha 1936
 

MORAVIAN CHURCH IN THE LAND OF THEIR FATHERS

The Moravian church could return to their homeland, "the land of their fathers", after the imperial edict (Protestant patent) was introduced in 1861. The first congregation of renewed Moravian church was established in 1870 in Potstejn and then followed the congregation in Duba by Ceska Lipa in 1872. There were other places set up in Usti nad Orlici, Prague, Jablonec nad Nisou, Duchcov, Turnov, Mlada Boleslav, Nova Paka and Herzogwald before the 1st World War. Moravian church was working in Bohemia among czechs as well as germans. And right from the beginning they developed the social work among the orphans (the orphanage houses in Cermna and Duba) and also the mission work (Frantisek Chleboun lived in South Africa among Khoikhoi and other people).
In 1880 was Moravian church officially recognized by Austrian-Hungarian government in Liberec (Reichenberg). They first started using the name of "Evangelical church of brethren" or "Ochranov church of brethern".   After the establishment of the independent Czechoslovakia in 1921 they agreed to start using the name "Jednota bratrska" (Moravian church or Unitas fratrum). During the times of the 1st republic the Moravian church was cooperating with the new  Evangelical church of Czech brethern (ČCE - established by connecting the reformed and lutheran churches in the Czech countries) but was holding a distance from contemporary nationalistic, religious and liberal spirits.
There were 10 czech churches established in the 30s (about 5,400 members) and 5 german ones (about 2,000 members). In 1935 the Moravian church was devided into two independent parts - czech and german region. The german region perished after the 2nd World War and departure of Sudeten germans. The work in two german congregations (Jablonec, Duba) was renewed, now among czech people. Renewed was also the work in Liberec where there was established the independent congregation. Since 1946 the Moravian church in Czechoslovakia has had their own bishops. The 1st one elected was Vaclav Vancura (ordained by the bishops from America and Great Britain on 20.7.1946 in Mlada Boleslav). Vancura was the 1st bishop after J.A.Comenius.
In 1957, on the 5th of September the Moravian church was declared during the general synod in Bethlehem as an independent province (5th one in a row) in the confederation of Unitas Fratrum.   At the beginning of the 60s the Moravian church had 18 congregations and other around 20 starting mission places. Unfortunately the church was not able to handle many difficult questions, theological or ecclesiological under the communist regime and so the conflicts inside the church slowly started growing.
 
More details can be found in following publications:
Vacovsky, Adolf: Obnovení Jednoty bratrské v zemi otců
 

PRESENT-DAY LIFE OF MORAVIAN CHURCH IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC AFTER THE FALL OF COMMUNIST REGIME

 
The new opportunities for the churches in the czech society came in 1989 after the fall of communist regime. The czech Moravian church opened its 1st primary school and kindergarten in Liberec after more than 300 years. New Mission school of Nicholas Lewis Zinzendorf was set up as well to open the possibilities to gain education nor new church workers. The mission work spread rapidly and this helped to establish new congregations. The social care for the old people was set up - "Diakonie Beranek". But partly due to this newly gained civil freedom there appeared to raise conflicts that had not been discussed or solved among different groups for years, especially in theological and ecclesiological area. The open conflict escalated between 1998 and 1999.
In 2000 the Czech Moravian church solved all its inner conflicts, reunited and entered into a period of fasting. On the 1st of December 2000 the whole Moravian church gathered in a prayer conference in Liberec and experienced a Day of repentance. They publicly confessed the sins that Moravian church lived in during the past tens of years and everybody together declared the will to live according to the teachings of their spiritual fathers which means the real life of following Jesus Christ the Lamb.
In 2001 and 2002 the church organized two synods where they received the vision: "To build a church based on apostolic and prophetic basis according to model of their fathers". The goal was to rebuild the life style of the Moravian church fathers who according to the teachings of the first apostolic church built many tasks in the past and then kept developing them for more than 160 years until 1620.
On the 17th of November 2003 Moravian church organized a day of the Covenant with God. As well as their fathers met "in the mountains of Rychnov" in 1464 and fully submitted to God in Ochranov when they experienced the Holy Spirits power and renewal on the 13th of August 1727, also this generation grew up into the same desires. They felt that after all that happened in the society since the Velvet revolution as well as in the church inside there was the right moment and time to submit fully and in everything to God and confirm the Covenant with Him.
During 2005 and 2006 the church was preparing the celebration for 550th anniversary from the origins of the Moravian church and 275 years from the start of Moravian mission. The congregations were opening themselves to the local communities and new activities in educating and social field were starting.   In 2007 and 2008 the Moravian church celebrated the 550th anniversary from its origins and 275 years of Moravian mission. On the 1st of March 2007, on Thursday, on the day of its establishment, the church organized an evening ceremony. The patronage over the anniversary was accepted by the Chairman of the Senate of the Czech republic MUDr. Premysl Sobotka who also attended the ceremony. The Czech national bank emitted the jubilee silver coins especially stamped for this anniversary. Then they started a traveling exhibit that visited many towns in the whole Czech republic and introduced the church, its history and its activities to the public including the students in the schools.   On the 31st of May 2008 there was a synod organized where the church authorized a new constitution. The new constitution better suited to the contemporary life in the Moravian church. Next to the leading ideological body ("Úzká rada") they set up an Executory council with the executive competencies.   Since 2002 the czech province has been opening the other mission places - Slovak republic (2002), Russia (2007), Poland (2008) and Ukraine (2010).
 
More details can be found on the webpages of Moravian church in the Czech republic www.jbcr.info.