On Monday, October 12 we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It would be very easy for me to get wrapped up in the rich historical connections between Moravians and the native people of the New World, as I have done in previous years. But, this year I want to emphasize the present-day connections which are the natural result of our shared history.
Just this week we have added to the Moravian Giving Portal a link to receive donations for the Florida-Georgia District Harvest. It’s an event that celebrates the Caribbean heritage of our Moravian brothers and sisters in their communities. All the individual congregations and fellowships are also present on the Giving Portal. Caribbean style Moravian congregations thrive from Florida, to NY, to Canada. And we continue to transcend the barriers of culture and language to share the good news of Jesus Christ in our communities.
Last week, we paid loving tribute to Brother Richard Starbuck for his incredible work, along with Daniel Crews, on the multi-volume series, The Records of the Moravians Among the Cherokees. The Cherokee Nation recently honored the work with the 2020 Samuel Worcester Award for its advancement of Cherokee history and culture. Rest in the communion of saints, Brother Starbuck!
In the present, The Rev. Angelica Regalado leads the Estamos Unidos Ministry to Spanish-speaking indigenous people from Central and South America who reside in North Carolina. A little further north, the Rev. Tracy Robinson and the Rev. Rhonda Robinson lead the Igelsia Esperanza for Bethlehem. Bethlehem, PA itself was founded as a Moravian mission among the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) people.
Even further north and west, our Yupik brothers and sisters in Alaska meet in more than 20 different Moravian congregations and fellowships. You can support the Alaska Province of the Moravian Church in America and all the individual congregations and fellowships on the Moravian Giving Portal.
The story of our bond with indigenous people has some sad chapters as well. In 1782, during the Revolutionary War, a Pennsylvania militia under the direction of Captain David Williamson killed nearly 100 unarmed Moravian Lenape at the Moravian Church mission at Gnadenhutten, Ohio. And in the 1830s, Moravians traveled with the Cherokee when they were forced to move to Oklahoma.
Today we see the fruit of our shared response to God’s love during all circumstances. We see a resilient calling that has endured for hundreds of years on this continent, including the birth of the United States of America. The calling that brought Moravians to the New World is still at work in new languages, new cultures, and new communities.
Thanks to Tom McCullough, Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, PA for the image that depicts The Rev. David Zeisberger with the Delaware people. The original painting resides at the archives in Bethlehem.