Beliefs & Practices
Worship in the Moravian Church, like many other aspects of the Church’s life, allows a great deal of flexibility. The reading and interpretation of the Gospel is central to Moravian worship but there is much more to that worship than preaching. Traditionally, the Church has been a liturgical church with a variety of liturgies for use on ordinary Sundays with special Orders for Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and Trinity. There are also Orders for the sacraments and Offices of the Church, including Holy Communion, Baptism, Confirmation, Marriages and Funerals. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper has a central place in the Church’s worship but Moravian’s have always rejected any over speculative theology. The words of Jesus at the Last Supper, without the imposition of any one theological interpretation, remain central.
There has been constant revision of the liturgy over the years but there are clear links between contemporary worship and that of the Church in its earliest days. However, worship leaders and congregations are not required to use these liturgies and may decide to use a freer form of service with extempore prayers or prayers taken from a variety of sources. “New expressions” of church and experimental forms of worship are also in use.
The Christingle Service, with its roots in the 18th Century, has been a much used contribution to the wider Christian Church.
Hymn singing has played a great part in Moravian worship since the publication of a first hymn book in 1501. The Church’s hymn books draw on the great treasury of hymns coming from all branches of the Christian Church, in addition to hymns by Moravian writers, including Zinzendorf, James Montgomery and John Cennick. Today, along with the Church’s own hymn book, most congregations will use Mission Praise and hymns by contemporary writers.
“Membership in the Church implies open profession of faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, and a life which does not belie that profession. Members must keep the rules of the Church. They must take a hearty share in her worship and work, and give according to their means for her outward needs.” (from the Book of Order of the British Province of the Moravian Church).
Infant Baptism takes place within the setting of morning worship, when the parents, sponsors and congregation make their promises for the future. Arrangements are made in advance with the Minister, who will arrange preparation classes as appropriate. There is no charge for baptism.
Confirmation Those who have been baptized as infants make their own confession of faith through Confirmation, and arrangements for this are made with the Minister. The names of those confirmed are placed on the Roll of Communicant Members.
Those who have not been baptized as infants and who wish to make their confession of faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, are baptized after suitable preparation. The names of those so baptized are placed on the Roll of Communicant Members.
Holy Communion is celebrated as part of the Family Worship (11 am) on the first Sunday of the month. Holy Communion services will also be held in the afternoons, at 3 pm, twice yearly, to be announced and will include the Moravian tradition of Lovefeast, a time of fellowship and sharing of news from home and overseas, with hymn singing and a cup of tea. The Lord’s Table is open to Communicant Members of other Christian denominations.
The Minister will take Communion to the home of anyone who is prevented through age or infirmity from sharing in the Church services.