Join Our Lenten Wellness Circle!

Please join us on Wednesday evenings from 5:30pm to 7:00pm beginning on February 26, 2020 for a very special Lenten experience. Living Compass Wellness Circles are a committed small group of adults who meet for six sessions. By the time the group sessions end, participants will have had a chance to:
  • discuss how faith informs our wellness and daily decisions;
  • assess our current state of balance and wellness;
  • learn important lessons about change;
  • and set goals for changes we feel called to make.

Many compasses compete to guide our lives. The Wellness Circle experience makes faith the compass that guides decisions in all areas of our lives – heart, soul, strength, and mind. When we use faith as our compass, we are better able to experience wellness and wholeness.

What:               Living Compass Wellness Circles (small groups of 6-8 people) (Download more details about the group experience.)

When:              Lent 2020 (6 Wednesdays: February 26, March 4, March 11, March 18, March 25, April 1) from 5:30pm to 7:00pm (No meal is provided but you are welcome to bring your own “bag supper” if you like.)

Where:             Unity Moravian Church Fellowship Hall | 8300 Concord Church Road, Lewisville, NC

Who:                 Anyone who wants to explore the question: “How is the Spirit calling me to greater wellness and wholeness right now?” Members and non-members are invited to participate. Interested in a parent circle? Let us know when you sign up! Childcare provided. 

How to Sign Up: 

Visit this Google Form (http://bit.ly/UnityWellnessCircles) or use the sign-up sheet in the Narthex (on the round table). You may also call the church office at (336) 945-3801.  A $5 donation is requested to offset the cost of each participant workbook, but no one should consider cost a barrier to their participation. 

Unity’s Watchword for 2020

On Sunday, December 29, 2019, ushers distributed baskets of  “watchwords” for 2020 to those in attendance. Pastor Barry invited everyone to select their own personal “Watchword” for the year. He selected the following text for the congregation.

“Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:15

A Note from Pastor Barry about our 2020 Watchword

It is accepted among New Testament scholars that St. Paul’s longest ministry relationship is with this new Christian congregation he started in Corinth. Today, we have two surviving letters that he wrote to this congregation. Biblical scholars have noted that within these two letters are references to five letters that Paul wrote to them and one that the congregation wrote back to Paul.
Archaeological scholars have found fragments of three of those five letters.

The city of Corinth is within 50 miles of both Athens and Delphi – the religious centers of ancient Greece. To think that it was a difficult place to plant a “new religious community” is an understatement. Not only is Paul “re-defining” Judaism and the prominence of the Torah, he is also presenting a new idea of faith in “God’s Messiah” – who is none other than Jesus, a lowly traveling rabbi who gathered a following for his cause of bringing in a new “kingdom” or new “understanding of God’s intent,” and was falsely accused, condemned, and crucified. Yet, he came back from death and inspired his disciples to continue the cause, and even appeared to Paul and commissioned him to go spread this new religious idea to the Jews who would hear and accept it, but mostly, Paul saw his mission as the messenger to the Gentiles (in this case, Greeks) who would embrace God’s mighty work of redemption for humanity through Jesus, his Messiah.

Earlier in chapter four, Paul describes his own troubles and sufferings as an accepted part of his calling. He infers this because he saw a connection with the sufferings of Jesus. And yet, for Paul,
it is through suffering, it is through weakness, it is through risking one’s own future for the sake of the “cause” that God’s grace is received.

Here in chapter four, verse fifteen, we have Paul’s affirmation that those who enter into this endeavor of bringing the gospel of Christ to as many neighborhoods as possible, will experience this
result: Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

It seems that extending grace to more and more people is our calling. This is the essential purpose. All others are ministerial – important for fulfilling needed tasks – but not our main goal.

God’s blessing be upon us as we enter the two thousand and twentieth year of our Lord; and the fortieth year of our congregation.

The Tradition of the “Watchword”

The roots of this long-standing tradition go back to the Renewed Moravian Church, a small group of refugees forming their own community of faith on the estate of Count Nicholas Ludvig von Zinzendorf, a Saxon nobleman.

On May 3, 1728, during the evening service, Count Zinzendorf gave the fledgling congregation a “watchword” for the next day. It was to be a “Losung” (watchword) to accompany them through the whole day.

Thereafter one or more persons of the congregation went daily to each of the 32 houses in Herrnhut to bring them the watchword for the day, and engage the families in pastoral conversations about the text.

From this oral tradition, the Daily Texts soon became fixed in printed form. Zinzendorf compiled 365 watchwords for the year and the first edition of the Losungen was published for 1731. Now printed in over 51 different languages and dialects and with an annual press run of nearly one and a half million, the Daily Texts is probably the most widely read devotional guide in the world, next to the Bible itself.

“The watchword is either a promise, an encouragement, an admonition or word of comfort; the doctrinal text contains a point of revealed doctrine.”

By 1812 it was established that all watchwords would be drawn by lot from a selection of Old Testament texts, and the doctrinal texts would be selected from the New Testament. By the end of the nineteenth century, the custom was established to relate the two texts in theme or thought.

Over the years, congregations began a tradition of distributing scriptures for people to select their own personal watchword (a scripture to guide or inspire them through the year) during the Watchnight (New Year’s Eve) Service or at a service held near the first of the new year.

Christmas at Unity! 2020 Events

Our neighbors and their families are invited to celebrate Christmas with us at Unity Moravian Church.  Although Advent and Christmas look very different for our community in 2020, we remain steadfastly hopeful as we welcome our Lord in a unique way.

 

Thursday, Dec. 24    

Lovefeast To Go (Drive-Thru Kit Pickup is 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM in Unity’s parking lot.)

Make a reservation to pick up Lovefeast buns, candles, trim, coffee mix and a special Lovefeast ode to celebrate in a new way this year through our Covid-safe parking lot drive-thru pickup.  Enjoy hymns and special music while you prepare your heart for our virtual service which will be livestreamed from the church sanctuary.  Reservations are requested; any additional Lovefeast-To-Go kits will be distributed first-come, first-serve.

Virtual Christmas Eve Lovefeast & Candle Service (7:00 PM)
Join us online on Facebook and YouTube at 7:00 PM Eastern Time pm on December 24th for our Christmas Eve Lovefeast and Candle Services. A brass band plays beforehand to welcome all for this beautiful, virtual worship service sure to get you in the Christmas spirit! Enjoy celebrating this special service in a unique way as we welcome the birth of our Lord.  Share photos and video of your family celebrating Lovefeast to our Facebook page while you enjoy Lovefeast To Go in the comfort of your home.

All in-person events take place at Unity Moravian Church at 8300 Concord Church Road in Lewisville, NC.

All virtual services can be accessed via:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unitymoravian

or

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-gFmqf09qQVbvTTalvyCiQ

Read more about the Moravians at https://www.moravian.org/.

 

 

 

Lumberton RCC Project Update

Yadkin View RCC – Lumberton House Rebuild

Lumberton was devastated in 2016 with flooding from Hurricane Matthew and now Florence has only compounded their miseries. Moravians have been partnering with North Carolina United Methodist Disaster Response since Hurricane Matthew and we are happy to be continuing our partnership. The Yadkin View Conference of Churches will be working together to rebuild a home in Lumberton this spring.

Project Update: May 20, 2019

Status:

  • City of Lumberton has demolished house and removed the debris.
  • Two trees that were on property and could have had a long term impact on house have been taken down.
    • Trunk/limbs will have to be cut up and removed from property at some point.
    • Either by work teams or locals for the wood.
  • Over the next 3 weeks, local team will:
    • Dig and pour footings
    • Pour 6 feet high concrete foundation wall.
      • Due to new local building regulations concerning flooding, the house will need to have a 6 feet high foundation wall.

Yadkin View RCC Work Teams:

  • After footings and foundation wall are poured, work teams will begin working on framing with the goal of having the house under roof by the 2nd week of July.
  • Two work Saturdays are planned. These will be one day trips.
    • Dates: June 8th and 15
    • Leave at 5:00 am. Work on house during day.  Return late afternoon.  (About a 3 hour one way trip)
    • Work To Be Done:
      • Framing/General Carpentry
      • Also need general helpers to wok with more experienced carpenters.
    • Need to get number of workers who are interested to Kenneth Lankford so he can plan work with local team.
    • While some tools are on site, work teams are encouraged to bring their own tools to perform the work scheduled for workdays.
  • Plans are for the work teams to take food with them on these days. If you are interested in helping the RCC with preparing food for the teams, please fill out a form or email as well.
  • If interested in going or helping with food, please fill out form in bulletin and turn into church office or send you name/email address to Kenneth Lankford (mklankford@roadrunner.com) and Smitty Welborn (swelbornjr@gmail.com). Note:  I would like your contact information so I can keep everyone informed if I get work related information sent to me.

Schedule (More Details Will Be Provided As They Are Finalized):

  • 5/18 – 5/19:
    • Footings dug.
  • 5-19 – 6/7:
    • Pour footings
    • Pour/build foundation walls
  • 6/8 – 2nd Week of July:
    • Framing
    • Roofing
  • Beginning 2nd Week of July:
    • Exterior doors and windows
    • Ruff in electrical
    • Ruff in plumbing
      • These three tasks can be done at the same time.
    • Sheetrock

Local Team on Site:

  • Local project manager will provide materials needed.
  • Local project manager will have people working at site during the week.
    • For those who prefer to work during the week, the local project manager can be contacted to coordinate work team support on these days.
    • Summary will be updated with local project manager’s contact information. 

Financial Support:

  • Financial contributions are needed to support the rebuild of this home:
    • Contributions can be made directly:
      • Checks should be made out to NCCUMC and with a memo to “Moravian House Adoption”
        • Mailed to: NCCUMC | PO Box 3601 | Lumberton, N.C. 28358

The Yadkin View Regional Conference of Churches: Clemmons Moravian Church, Macedonia Moravian Church, New Hope Moravian Church, New Philadelphia Moravian Church, and Unity Moravian Church.

No Sunday Activities on January 13, 2019

We’ll miss being together on Sunday, January 13, but with the anticipated icy conditions, we want to be safe. We will observe our mission emphasis and enjoy some of the special music scheduled for January 13 on January 27.

January 13 is the second Sunday of Epiphany. You’ll find the scripture readings for the day here. The focus is on the baptism of Jesus. Think back to your own baptism. Do you remember it? Many of us were infants when we were received as members of our childhood faith communities. What does it really mean to be baptized? As Moravians, baptism is a little different from other denominations in that, like Jesus’s baptism, it is a communal event. You can remind yourself about the sacrament of Baptism on the Moravian Church in North America website.

Jesus’s baptism is a significant event. Ronald J. Allen talks about this in his commentary on the Working Preacher website:

“When Jesus came to be baptized, he came to be publicly identified as the pivotal figure in the movement towards the realm. Moreover, his baptism signaled that God was now taking steps through the ministry of Jesus to signal that the turning of the ages expected by John has now begun to take place. As preachers are want to say, it is both present and future: its signs in the present point to the future consummation at Jesus’ return.

Jesus’ baptism takes place in community. It is not a private occurrence. This communal dimension reminds listeners that they when they are baptized, they become part of a new social world. My sense is that a good many people today are moving away from the radical individualism of modernity and are longing for community.

The voice from heaven (God’s voice) identifies Jesus as God’s son, in whom God is well pleased. In first century context, these words have less to do with the nature of Jesus and more with his purpose. God’s words recall two texts. The Jewish people used Psalm 2 at the coronation of a new monarch. In 2:7, God adopts the monarch as God’s son. Thus, God adopts Jesus as divine representative in the final transition from old age to new age.”

We hope you find your time at home refreshing and relaxing. We look forward to seeing you next Sunday!

Worship at Home on December 9

We hope you’ll stay safe and warm at home tomorrow, Sunday, December 9th, and enjoy the snow. We’ll resume our Advent festivities next week with Sunday School (9:45am) and Worship (11:00am). Please join us for Moravian Christmas in Lewisville next Sunday, December 16, beginning at 2:30pm, followed by our Children’s Lovefeast at 4:00pm. The cantata, The Winter Rose, will now be performed on Sunday, December 23rd at 7:30pm. Our sanctuary is now decorated for the season! View a few photos below.

Visit our Facebook page to read about all our Advent and Christmas events!

If you’d like to enjoy a bit of Advent worship on your own, here are a few ecumenical worship and prayer options for you!

  • Moravian Church Without Walls Daily Text Podcast: Listen online or with your favorite podcast service to the Daily Text, read each day by Moravians from all over North America. (Look at December 3rd – you’ll know that reader!)
  • Here’s a daily reading from the Lutherans’ Advent devotions about the 2nd Sunday in Advent.
  • Lectio Divina (purposeful, meditative Bible reading) for the Second Sunday in Advent.
  • A video Advent reflection.
  • An imaginative prayer exercise for the second Sunday in Advent.
  • This 10-minute guided meditation is perfect for the second Sunday in Advent.
  • An Advent devotional kit from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Christmas at Unity! Come Join Us for the Season

Our neighbors and their families are invited to celebrate Christmas with us at Unity Moravian Church by attending one or all of these events:

Sunday, December 2        

Candle Trimming (6:00pm)
Bring your family and learn how to “dress” the hundreds of beeswax candles in special red paper trim used for our traditional Christmas lovefeast and candle services.  We enjoy snacks together once the work is done! Kid-friendly but fun for all ages! Free.

Salem Community Orchestra Concert (7:30pm)
Join us in the sanctuary for a merry old time! The orchestra will share a variety of carols and medleys designed to get you in the Christmas spirit! Free to all.

Sunday, December 9   Sunday, December 23       

The Winter Rose: A Cantata (7:30pm)
Join us after the Lewisville Holiday parade for this free concert. The performance features Unity’s choir accompanied by a talented musical ensemble. The Winter Rose incorporates both traditional carols and newly composed anthems that visit the timeless Christmas story with fresh insight. This is Jim Basta’s farewell performance as conductor of the Unity Moravian Choir’s cantatas.

Sunday, December 16      

MoravianXmasInLewisvlleTransMoravian Christmas (2:30pm) and Children’s Lovefeast & Candle Service (4:00pm)
This interactive community open house and craft fair is free to everyone! Experience the history, music, and traditions of the Moravians, one of the world’s oldest churches. Buy unique gifts, chicken pies, and baked goods for the holidays. Enjoy free sugar cake, cookies, hot cocoa, and lovefeast coffee. Crafts for the kids and young at heart. Stay for our children’s lovefeast at 4:00pm, a noisy and joyous worship experience where you can share in a symbolic meal, become part of the Christmas story, and sing carols. Come as you are!

  • 2:30pm: Moravian Christmas (crafts, baked goods, snacks, demonstrations of Moravian traditions such as star and candle making)
  • 3:30pm: The Christmas Putz (presentation of Christmas nativity scenes)
  • 3:45pm: Band prelude (intergenerational!)
  • 4:00pm: Interactive lovefeast and candle service begins

Monday, Dec. 24    

Christmas Eve Lovefeast & Candle Service (4pm & 7pm)
Join us at 4pm and 7pm on December 24th for our Christmas Eve Lovefeast and Candle Services. A brass band plays beforehand to welcome all inside for this beautiful worship service sure to get you in the Christmas spirit! Come early to enjoy the band prelude and get a seat. Nursery is provided.

All events take place at Unity Moravian Church at 8300 Concord Church Road in Lewisville, NC.  Read more about the Moravians at https://www.moravian.org/.

Please share this printable schedule with your friends and family.

 

 

Moravian Roots in Alaska

As I prepare to journey to Bethel, Alaska, I have wondered about the history of this region and its Moravian roots.

The Yupik people have made southwestern Alaska their home for several thousand years. Their village is called Mamterillermiut, which means – “Smokehouse People” – named after their fish smokehouse. During the 19th century, the village was a trading post and the 1880 U.S. Census showed 41 people living there.

In 1883, the secretary of the Presbyterian Mission Board wanted to form an ecumenical group who might be interested in initiating a mission in Alaska. He contacted the Moravian mission agency and traveled to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to speak to the Moravian Seminary about this possibility.

Adolphus Hartmann, a missionary who had served in Australia and also among the Canadian Indians, and William Weinland, a graduating seminary student were appointed to make an exploratory trip to Alaska. After a couple of weeks, plagued by bad weather and vicious mosquitoes, on June 20, 1884, the missionaries welcomed the sight of an Alaska Commercial Company Camp on the bank of the Kuskokwim River.

God saith unto Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there, and make there an altar unto God that appeared unto thee.’ [Genesis 35:1].

They wrote in their journal: “We at length came in sight of the important station Mumtrekhlagamute. We were greatly cheered by the sight of this station, situated on a high bank, with a background of pine forest. The Moravian Text for the day was both encouraging and remarkable: God saith unto Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there, and make there an altar unto God that appeared unto thee.’ [Genesis 35:1]. It seemed as though the Lord was now speaking to us in these words, and was thereby pointing out the place for our future operations amongst the Eskimoes.”

From that point, development of the Alaska mission moved quickly. Other sites for the mission were investigated, but the pair settled on the Camp and renamed it Bethel, after the Daily Text they read on the day they first saw it.

Weinland was appointed to return to Alaska and start the new mission along with the Rev. John Kilbuck, a Native American and alumnus from the same seminary class. Both missionaries married women described as “companions possessed of the true missionary spirit.” Weinland married Carrie Yost and Kilbuck wed Edith Romig.

On June 21, 1885, the first Sunday worship service was held by Moravians in Alaska.

William Henry Weinland was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He attended Moravian schools and graduated from Moravian College and Theological Seminary in preparation for a life of professional ministry.

John Kilbuck was born in Franklin County, Kansas on May 15, 1861, into a family of the Christian Munsee band of the Lenape Tribe (Delaware). His mother was Mahican, part of the Algonquian Tribe. Kilbuck was the great-grandson of the Lenape Chief, Gelelemend of the Turtle Clan, of the Lenape Tribe.

The Kilbucks spent their adult lives in Bethel as missionaries and teachers among the Yup’ik people. They were perhaps the most influential missionaries during the period around 1900. They quickly learned the Yup’ik language and adopted Yup’ik as the language of the Moravian Church in Alaska; a policy which continues to the present. John also based all missionary work in the existing Yup’ik villages, rather than establishing separate mission stations. Since the 19th Century, the native Alaskans have had a rich Christian history, coming from Moravian, Russian Orthodox and Catholic roots.

In 1971, the town of Bethel started a radio station for the Yup’ik people, and it has had a big influence in the revival and redevelopment of the Yup’ik culture.

In 2012, someone in town put up signs everywhere that said Taco Bell was going to be coming to Bethel soon… but, it was really just crazy hoax… until Taco Bell heard about the hoax, and they airlifted a “taco truck” into town to serve about 10,000 tacos to the people. You never know what excitement might occur in a small remote town in Alaska!

I am honored to be able to visit this special place and know the spirits and efforts of all those who have worked to spread the Gospel of love and peace still live in the lives of the people. God’s Spirit continues to be expressed through the love and devotion of Ed Denhert and Barb Wiede and the Moravians who continue to pray for and live among the people of Bethel.

Humbled to be part of all who follow our Lord,

Pastor Barry

-The Rev. Barry Foster is pastor of Unity Moravian Church in Lewisville, North Carolina. This article was first published in the August 2018 church newsletter.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

As I write this, we are a little more than a week from the season of Advent, and it is just a couple of weeks after the two assault weapon massacres (Las Vegas, Nevada and Sutherland Springs, Texas); and our country is still paralyzed on how to respond to these battlefield-type killings. How do we, as Christians, view these tragic occurrences?

I have tried to avoid any and all temptations to engage in the political rhetoric associated with this debate, and have tried to keep it in the realm of how Christ viewed violence and his responses and recommendations.

The truth is: We humans are all going to die.

The question is: What will be our death circumstance?

None of us want to die a violent death (car accident, war battlefield, gun crime, earthquake, or tornado, etc.). None of us want to contract cancer, ALS, or other types of fatal diseases. What we all wish is that we’ll live healthy and happy lives, then fall asleep one night and wake up in heaven. Yet, to our dismay, life on this planet has a different script for us. We know that there is evil in the world, and when evil takes over a person and that person has access to powerful weaponry…

The often-used statement: “Guns don’t kill people, people do,” is unconvincing…of course, people kill people. Human beings are agents in these matters.

As people of faith, we should be using our “grace-filled imaginations” to find ways to keep death as a natural part of life, and try our best to prevent violent, premature, unnatural ends to life.

Christ’s outlook on this has less to do with self-defense and more to do with the defense of a peaceful, communal life.

Jesus asks us to love our enemies, not to murder them; to pray for them, not to take vengeance; and he commends the peacemakers among us, not those advocating for more weapons for defense.

Was Jesus naïve? Apparently, some believe that the second person of the Trinity didn’t know what he was talking about. But Jesus lived in a violent time himself, under the heel of Roman rule in an occupied land, when human life was seen as cheap. Jesus witnessed violence and was himself the victim of violence and succumbed to the death penalty.

It was not only divine inspiration but also human experience that led him to say: Blessed are the peacemakers.

I wish I had THE definitive answer… but, the only answer I have is to follow Christ.

Each of us, can search our hearts and challenge our Christian faith to answer the questions:

  • Are we powerless to change our violent culture – or just unwilling to try?
  • Does our faith in Jesus have more influence on our thinking, than our political affiliation?
  • What do we say to our children and grandchildren about these violent acts?
  • What should we say?

This Advent season, we will read the scriptures and witness the ancient Hebrew prophets’ courage in the face of violence, and their peace-making efforts against hate. We will read the stories of Jesus and the disciples and witness their courage to love even though they were martyred for believing in this imagined Kingdom of God.

Praying for courage to go against the popular flow and to truly be advocates for peaceful living, and natural dying, is consistent with our faith. Using our grace-filled imaginations to lead our efforts in transforming our national ethos, is consistent with the prophets and with Jesus, our Lord.

Pray a prayer for our world: for the perpetrators and victims of evil and violence, and especially for the courageous peacemakers.

Advent: A hopeful time of seeing another way to live and prosper in the world – Jesus’ way.

Put fears aside; for our Lamb has conquered. Let us follow him.

Peace to all,

Barry

-The Rev. Barry Foster is pastor of Unity Moravian Church in Lewisville, North Carolina. This article was first published in the December 2017 church newsletter.