Having invested a significant amount of time studying the ecumenical movement with those who participated in a group study of the full communion proposal between the Episcopal Church USA and the Moravian Church I feel both compelled and qualified to endorse this response.
The following comments are gathered from the body of research and reports assembled by the Study Group and presented in its entirety at: http://www.moravians.org/wordpress
A recent article in the March 2010 issue of the Moravian entitled: Ecumenism Moravians and Lutherans Gather describes a celebration of an ecumenical movement that appears alien to that for which Jesus prayed in his last prayer for His disciples. This manmade partnership is not made in heaven. This is not the plan of our Chief Elder as revealed in His High Priestly Prayer.
This is not judgmental of Lutherans, Episcopalians or Moravians because among them most certainly are many who have, by grace, received the gift of communion in faith with all believers.
It is troubling that a powerful and reassuring prayer by Jesus spoken to the Lord for the disciples to hear has been first improperly used as a reason for forming full communion partnerships and secondly ignored for the transformative power and promise contained in it. The transformation here is not about God’s unifying power but rather how this prayer was used as justification by ecumenical leaders to organize their churches for the politically motivated agendas of the World and National and State Councils of Churches.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
John 17:18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
The article in the Moravian reported on a gathering in Winston Salem this January of ecumenical leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Moravian Church in America. The meeting began with reports by the coordinating committee on the “hurdles they faced in creating the partnership and initiatives they have achieved” as well as the “hopes and dreams they have for the partnership.”
Sadly, the account in the article of the partnership describes a unity that differs from the Biblical unity synod delegates were asked to vote for. What has emerged is a response to modern ecumenism that depends on manmade agreements that form partnerships for objectives other than spreading the Gospel.
This entire 17th chapter of John is Jesus’ prayer…Jesus prayed for his disciples, including those of us who follow him today. He prayed that God would keep his chosen believers safe from Satan’s power, setting them apart and making them pure and holy, uniting them through His truth. Jesus prayed for all who would follow him, including you and others you know. Jesus’ great desire for his disciples was that they would become one. He wanted them unified as a powerful witness to the reality of God’s love. Jesus prayed for unity among the believers based on the believer’s unity with Him and the Father. Christians can know unity among themselves if they are living in union with God.
Not by organizational unity between denominations. There is no indication in this passage of John (or any New Testament passage) that God prioritizes organizational unity.
The duty of those who believed and followed Christ during his ministry here on earth, and the duty of believers through the ages, even unto this present day, is to spread the Gospel, and to teach its Truth, God’s Holy Word in its entirety.
Jesus’ disciples are bound together by His presence in our activities (spiritual unity) and by the Word received by the Lord from the Father and given to them/us (doctrinal unity).
There is a perilous move afoot in this last hour that threatens to deceive even the very elect (Matt. 24:24). Its power, like that of Eden’s serpent, lies in its subtlety. It appears to be something that it is not, and woefully, many of today’s Christian Churches, in fulfillment of 2 Thess. 2: 11, are believing the lie.
It is the oft-heard and increasingly accepted notion that we should “unite.” It is the same dictum that was issued by Nimrod at Babel and Constantine at the birth of the Roman Church.
This call to worldly unification is wrong, primarily because of the means that are used to achieve the unity. For example, the stated is to downplay and/or disregard doctrinal distinctions because it impedes unity. Ecumenical candidates for full communion can labor for 10 years or more over differences of doctrine, government and practice until the language of the agreements can be massaged to a point that potential partners can deliver the final verdict that no differences exist that would prevent full communion partnerships…shared ministers…shared decision making, and shared treasures.
We must not ignore the documented doctrinal differences that have caused the recent rift between the Anglican Church and the Episcopal Church USA. The problem is that many will see our 60 page formal agreement simply as a statement that we agree. We must consider how this would affect our witness mission.
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” 2 John 9-11″ “ Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition [doctrine/teaching] which he received of us” 2 Thessalonians 3:6. “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” 1 Timothy 4:16
The foregoing scriptures make it abundantly clear that we are not permitted to “overlook” doctrine for any reason.
But shouldn’t we be “of one mind” and “in unity through the Spirit,” and doesn’t the Bible say that we should not be divided as illustrated in Philippians 2:2 and 1 Corinthians 1: 10? Yes, to both questions. To the best of our ability, we should be at peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14; Romans 12: 18). The question is not whether or not we should be united but rather how is real unity achieved. First we must realize that upon entering into the family of God, through true repentance, belief and confession (Acts 3:19, Romans 10:9, 10), we automatically are made one with all other true believers (Romans 12; 18).
Ours is a spiritual unity that can never be broken or improved upon (1 Corinthians 12; 12, 13, Ephesians 2; 13-15; 4; 3, 4). Not withstanding this blessed fact, we cannot deny that outwardly, many claiming to be a part of the Body of Christ are divided today. Admittedly, this is wrong (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). We must ask ourselves two questions: 1) Why is it divided and 2) what can be done to alleviate the division?
“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3). And, “. . . I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you…” (1 Corinthians 11: 18, 19a).
From these scriptures, we find four reasons for division: 1) Carnality; 2) Envy; 3) Strife; and 4) Heresies. These are the reasons for divisions among those claiming to be believers. Rather than forsaking doctrine to achieve unity, why not forsake the causes of disunity: Carnality, envy, strife and heresy (false teaching)? We should not forsake doctrine to achieve unity –we should forsake the deeds of the flesh and unity will result.
Modern ecumenists use misquotes of the William Temple Speech at the Second World Conference on Faith and Order, Edinburgh, 1937 to support organizational unity. Actually Temple states in that speech:
Our faith must be more than the trust, which leads us to rely on Him; it must be the deeper faith, which leads us to wait for Him. It is not we who can heal the wound, of His Body. We confer and deliberate, and that is right. But it is not by contrivance or adjustment that we can unite the Church of God. It is only by coming closer to Him that we can come nearer to one another. And we cannot by ourselves come closer to Him. If we have any fellowship with Him, it is not by our aspirations but by His self-giving: if our fellowship with Him, and in Him with one another is to be deepened, it will not be by our effort but by His constraining power. “The love of Christ constraineth us. To that we come back. Because He died for all. all are one in His death. Not by skill in argument, not even by mutual love that spans like a bridge the gulf between us — for the gulf though bridged is not closed by any love of ours — but by the filling of our hearts with His love and the nature of our minds, with His truth, the hope may he fulfilled. It is not by understanding one another, but by more fully understanding Him, that we are led towards our goal. We can help each other here, and learn one From another how to understand Him better. But it is towards Him that our eyes must be directed. (Phil 3:10-14)
Our discussion of our differences is a necessary preliminary: but it is preliminary and no more. Only when God has drawn us closer to Himself shall we be truly united together, and then our task will be, not to consummate our endeavor but to register His achievement..
Since we have already seen what is prohibited in the pursuit of unity (dismissal of sound doctrine), let us explore the Godly, Biblical means by which we should pursue “the unity of the Spirit,” The fourth reason for division, heresy, means “false doctrine” or “false teaching,” False teaching causes division. Conversely, sound doctrine and accurate teaching of the Word will promote unity in the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4: 11-16), Ephesians 4: 13 refers to the unity of the faith.” It is essential that we understand what “the Faith” is - what constitutes “the Faith?” If we know what constitutes “the Faith,” we will know what to teach and what to embrace, the result of which will be the much sought-after “Unity” that we so eagerly desire these days. Right unity is not reserved for denominational organizations and will not include individuals who continue to believe or endorse, teaching that questions if Jesus is the only way to salvation…the triune nature of God…Sharing the Lord’s Supper…baptism… the virgin birth… the resurrection…repentance from dead works… the inerrancy of Scripture…and confession of Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
The irony is that followers of the modern ecumenical movement will passionately deny the need for Right teaching because they claim it is divisive, irrelevant and will lead to the death of the church.
If right teaching were faithfully taught and eagerly embraced, the true unified Body of Christ would flourish.
In the article in the Moravian unity advocates maintain “Lutherans and Moravians have developed a relationship based on a common confessing of the Christian Faith and recognition of baptism and sharing of the Lord’s Supper.” This, when biblically accurate, is indeed, an “essential work of Christians.” When compromise leads to a disregard of divisive doctrine as non-essential, that is tantamount to “denying” the Faith. Revelation 2:13 says to hold fast His name and do not deny the faith.
In the full communion proposal with the Episcopal Church USA and the Moravian Church “Finding Our Delight in the Lord” we must unite so that the world will come to Christ.
We seek this relationship of full communion so that our mission as Christ’s church will be more effectively fulfilled and each of our communions might be more complete because of the spiritual treasures of the other; and we do this for the sake of the world,“ so that the world may believe.”(FODitL)
The premise that Christian unity causes sinners to convert is, however, nowhere to be found in scripture. Rather, the Bible says the Holy Spirit convicts of sin (John 16:8), the goodness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2:4) and the preaching of the Word is necessary for conversion (Romans 10:14-17).
Although some hold to the false premise of “unity for conversion,” the majority of unity advocates, including the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, and the ecumenical partners wish to unite for a different purpose; they wish to speak with one powerful voice lobbying against the evils of capitalism, they will end world poverty by lobbying for redistributing income and wealth through compensation payments by those they blame for such things as capitalistic oppression, Global Warming, and they promote a socialist healthcare system. The documented goals of their unity are socially and politically motivated.
Their initiatives are apparent from their communications and press releases:
They are coming together and striving for “social change,” whereas Philippians 1:27 says:
“. . . that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”
Our Christian “unity” should be to promote “the faith of the gospel” (defined above) - not to “rescue America or the world from social, economic, or political woes” This latter focus by ecumenical partners reveals that both the means to attain and the purpose for the unity that these movements seek is seriously flawed. In a nutshell, their position is: “Disregard doctrine to effect Social change.” Saints - this is not the gospel! Though it may appear good and proper on the surface, a closer examination reveals treachery and certain harm to the true cause of Christ. In this day of ecumenical zealotry, we would be wise to remember the words of the Master:
Mathew 7:21, 13, 14 “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. . therefore enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be that go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life and few there be that find it.”
Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Wherever we find ourselves in Christian dialogue with one another, waiting for unity is our task. He will not fail to unite believers. Biblically correct shared missions between Christians are appropriate but unity of an organization will only be realized one conversion at a time.
These must be the topics of discussions that occur within our communities, our churches, our denominations and between ecumenical partners. We must do our part preparing the way so that the Lord can unite. We must have the faith to wait on the Lord and “then our task will be, not to consummate our endeavor but to register His achievement.”
It is for this among other reasons that those of us who have studied the proposed full communion agreement between the Episcopal Church USA and the Moravian Church Northern and Southern Province oppose this agreement as inconsistent with Gods Word to us.
Leigh Ann Leinbach
For Full Communion
Joshua 24:15 (King James Version)
15And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
(Olivet Moravian Church 2009 Watchword)
REPORT OF THE OLIVET STUDY GROUP REGARDING FULL COMMUNION BETWEEN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH USA AND THE MORAVIAN CHURCH, NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN PROVINCES
A RESPONSE TO FULL COMMUNION
This document contains a short synopsis (pgs. 1-6) of the longer report (7-20 pgs.) which follows. Lastly, there is an abbreviated resource reference. The Study Group examined, in detail, the proposal, Finding Our Delight in the Lord: A Proposal for Full Communion between The Episcopal Church USA (TECUSA) and The Moravian Church, Northern and Southern Provinces (FODITL) (to be voted on at the 2010 Synod). We remained Biblically faithful and true to historic Moravian theology. We spent several months systematically examining the issues in the full communion document, searching Scripture for direction, and seeking God’s guidance and leading. The synopsis has brief descriptions of most of the topics discussed in the longer report. Additional information is available at the Study Group’s web page. The additional information includes: full, more comprehensive reports on the individual areas, resources and links.
I. The Full Communion Proposal states:
Its purpose is to share the treasures of each denomination and be more effective in our mission through implementation of a Joint Commission and Covenants and Agreements at all levels.
II. The Full Communion Premise is found to be invalid:
Study Group looked at the 4 claims purported to have inspired and to have been the foundation for this agreement.
1.John 17:20-21 was not a prayer by Jesus for us to form ourselves together as implied by this agreement. It is a prayer for spiritual and relational unity
2.William Temple did not say that division caused the Great Evil of obscured Truth and witness stated in the agreement. He actually said sin is the cause of obscured truth and witness.
3.The reference to Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf’s ecumenical vision is used in an incomplete and misleading manner. In Zinzendorf’s mission to Pennsylvania, the many denominations he attempted to unite questioned his motivation and interpretation of scripture. Zinzendorf used John 17 in support of his mission to unite these denominations. Of the 25 plus denominations present, the response to Zinzendorf was that his interpretation and use of John 17 was incorrect and invalid. The various denominations present discerned the meaning expressed in John 17 to be:
a. Unity is a spiritual not physical expression
b. Individual denominations are not contradictory to God’s Word
c. Individual churches will actually provide greater opportunity for achieving God’s purposes by the nature of their size and the subsequent ability of the individual ministers to secure and guide the souls of the members.
Subsequent to these discussions, the denominations returned to their individual churches.
4.The World Council of Churches’ view of modern ecumenism was found to be the only valid influence on The Full Communion Proposal. The WCC states in its document, “Towards a Common Understanding and Vision” that it’s member churches must commit to the WCC “goal of visible unity in one faith and in one Eucharistic fellowship expressed in worship and in common life in Christ, [seeking] to advance toward that unity in order that the world may believe”. “Membership in the WCC is “not just a one-time affiliation which then allows the churches to live comfortably with their continued separation.
III. The One Essential Requirement by the Episcopal Church to enter into Full Communion with another Church is NOT Biblical
The requirement of assured apostolic succession is contradictory to the Moravian faith and the one essential as outlined by the scriptures and set forth in the Ground of the Unity, which states,
The Triune God as revealed in the Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testaments is the only source of our life and salvation; and this Scripture is the sole standard of the doctrine and faith of the Unitas Fratrum and therefore shapes our life.
The Unitas Fratrum recognizes the Word of the Cross as the center of Holy Scripture and of all preaching of the Gospel, and it sees its primary mission, and its reason for being, to consist in bearing witness to this joyful message.
IV. The Full Communion Proposal requires acknowledgement of Historic Apostolic Succession:
Historic Episcopacy is the strict belief that the bishops, who are understood as ‘Christ and the Church’ within the Episcopal Church, have been given special knowledge passed down by ‘laying on of hands’ in an uninterrupted succession from the apostles. Their teaching and decisions are accepted even if they are opposed to the teachings of Scripture.
V. The Full Communion Proposal calls for an ecumenical relationship that is not Biblical:
Historic (Biblical) ecumenism can be traced to Jesus High Priestly Prayer (John 17). It is a prayer to the Father to unite all believers into one spirit. The Modern Ecumenical movement can be traced to the World Council of Churches and is a secular effort to falsely unite the entire world in a shared visible unity.
VI. TECUSA Our Communion Partner
The Episcopal Church (TEC) is preaching a new gospel that radically departs from Anglicanism and historic Christianity. In their own words, the Presiding Bishop Schori and her predecessors, bishops and other leaders of TEC have denied Jesus as the only way to the Father, denied the divinity and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Savior of the World, denied the resurrection, denied Heaven and Hell and denied Salvation through the Cross of Jesus Christ.
VII. Choose This Day
If we choose to serve the Spirit of the Age, we choose to be orphans who create other orphans. If we choose to serve God and we bring others into a relationship with God, then we are bringing them into a family that lasts FOREVER.
Are we fulfilling the Great Commission, repenting and seeking God in all these things? Joshua would say “Choose This Day.” It matters what you choose today. What if God asks you this question?
WHAT DID YOU DO IN THAT MOMENT?
The Significance of 1741
November 13, 1741 marks the date of the “Formal Promulgation in the Unitas Fratrum of the doctrine of the immediate Headship of Jesus Christ in His Church.” This date is commemorated each year in the Moravian Church; but because of its significance should be commemorated every Sunday, if not every day. After centuries of oppression, suppression, depression, indigestion and every other kind of “ession”, the Moravians experienced the Great Recognition of the real Head of our Church. Throughout the history of Christianity, while many churches spent tremendous energy consolidating their “power bases”, the Brethren understood the dangers of too much power in the hands of a few. The Brethren who came to the Great Recognition have meant as much to the Moravian Church as the founding fathers have meant to our country. Both were very wise and spiritually led. Now, with all of the wisdom of the twenty-first century, the Moravian Church is about to abandon the Great Recognition in favor of a “re-structuring” of the church, and an alliance with the Liberal Secularists of the Episcopal church. The delegates to the called Special Synod of 2009 and the scheduled Synod of 2010 should vote against both The Restructuring Proposal and The Full Communion Proposal.
It is the Lord Jesus’ will for Christians to have spiritual unity with him and the Heavenly Father who sent him. Every confessed Christian knows that they are saved by the blood of the cross, not by anything they can do, but by his grace alone (Ephesians 2:8).
So with an open heart and the Spirit of the Lord, He wants us to witness to other Christians, and non-believers to help show them the way to Christ. This is the mission Jesus has for the Christian Church: spiritual unity, which already brings all the Christian churches together as brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 4:3-6).
With spiritual unity already in place (as just described above) Full Communion of The Moravian Church with The Episcopalian Church is not necessary.
STUDY GROUP RESPONSE TO FULL COMMUNION
Preface: Christ as Chief Elder
The Christian faith, based on the life and death on the cross and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is already into the 18th century. The events of the Protestant Reformation resulting in the establishment of Protestant churches have occurred. When the Moravian church, in 1741, could not find anyone suitable or capable of being “Chief Elder” or presiding officer of the church, Moravians being led by the Holy Spirit decided that Jesus Christ should be “Chief Elder”.
It is through this event that Christ graciously consented to be, not only the heavenly sovereign of our church, but also vitally concerned with its everyday life in a most intimate way.
Chief Eldership of our Moravian theology comes from the Nicholas von Zinzendorf era, and is the very core belief of the Moravian church. Christians of the Moravian church, with open hearts receive him as their personal Savior and have a warm personal relationship with him, rejoicing with him as “Chief Elder”. The Moravian church requires that all church leaders are held accountable in being responsible to him.
I. The Full Communion Proposal states:
“Our mission as Christ’s church will be more effectively fulfilled and each of our communions might be more complete because of the spiritual treasures of the other;
“It is the prayer of all who have participated in this dialogue that Finding Our Delight in the Lord: A Proposal for Full Communion may empower our churches to share their treasures with each other, strengthen their witness to the Gospel, and advance the unity and renewal of the church.”
The above objectives will be accomplished by:
“Implementation of a joint commission  and additional covenants and agreements at all levels , joint planning, consultation, common decision making, admonition , development of worship materials , on-going theological discussions, continuing education for church professionals, joint use of facilities, and to share in the governance and communal life of each other’s churches. The Moravian/Episcopal unification will bring a balance of truth to the world that is not now present in each church.”
II. Study Group, upon research, discerned the facts regarding the Proposal for Full Communion/Visible Unity:
1. John 17:20-21: The proposal states: “…we do this for the sake of the world, “so the world may believe”.
Response: John 17 is Jesus’ prayer for his first disciples and for all of his disciples, including those of today. One phrase from the prayer, “…that all of them may be one…” is frequently extracted from the prayer and used in the ecumenical movement. Based upon a study of these verses it was discerned that the unity Jesus prayed for is a relational and spiritual unity. The relational unity can be likened to a community between individual Christians. The spiritual unity is when Jesus’ disciples are bound together by his presence in our activities. Jesus prayed for unity among his believers based upon the believer’s unity with him and the Father. There is no indication that God prioritizes organizational unity.
2. William Temple misquoted:
The Proposal states there are “two great evils caused by disunity” (division of denominations); first is that [the divisions] obscure our witness..” and “the second is that through the division each party to it loses some spiritual treasure, and none perfectly represent the balance of truth, so that this balance of truth is not presented to the world at all.”[FODITL pg. 2] These words erroneously credited to William Temple in a 1937 sermon are claimed as the reason that the Episcopal and Moravian Church pursued the dialogue that resulted in this proposal for full communion. Temple actually said that sin has caused the division that is more clearly visible than the unity, which endures in spite of them (sins). Sin is not recognized or discussed in the document claimed to be inspired by Temple’s sermon. He said:
“We cannot heal the breeches in the Church’s outward unity by regarding them (Sins) as unimportant.”
Temple’s sermon does not support joining denominations to create visible unity, as is the stated objective of The Proposal. In his sermon Temple goes on to warn:
“It is not by contrivance or adjustment that we can unite the Church of God. It is only by coming closer to Him that we can come nearer to one another. Our unity in dependence for our faith upon the unique act of the one God is a perpetual and unalterable fact. If we are Christians, that is due to the activity of the Holy Spirit; and because He is one. Those in whom He is active are one fellowship in Him –”the Fellowship of the Holy Ghost.”” 
3. Count Zinzendorf reference: “…ecumenical commitment is rooted in the vision of …Zinzendorf…”
Response: Count Zinzendorf‘s ecumenical theology was based on the “heart relationship” with Jesus Christ. He believed that true religious community is based upon the shared experience of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Zinzendorf believed, “That reason, the intellect, so useful in human matters…could not guide him in the resolution of religious matters.” He resolved in spiritual matters to remain with ‘heart-grasped truth’.
Zinzendorf’s trip to America is often cited as an example of a Moravian desire to join all denominations. First hand accounts describe Zinzendorf’s purpose as follows: to rally all Germans in the Province around their common belief in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and to unite them into a federated church in which each group, without giving up its peculiar denominational differences, might learn to live and labor together in a higher unity of the Spirit. The issue of union was debated; there were people both for and against union. Many feared the creation of one denomination or one man as head of the church, which for them was contradictory to scripture as they had been taught and would bring them back to the shortcomings of the Catholic Church before the reformation. The group concluded that the true communion with saints “is the Congregation of God in the Spirit throughout the whole world, constituting that spiritual body whose Head is Christ.” Despite back and forth discussions of unity, one by one, each denomination dropped from the meetings. A truer reference to Zinzendorf would highlight his ecumenical failings due to scriptural misinterpretations and his missionary successes due to the commandment of Christ to take the message of salvation to the entire world.
4. Unlike the first 3 premises (which have been proved to be erroneous in application), the Study Group finds that the WCC (World Council of Churches) influence to be accurately and most completely embodied in The Full communion Proposal.
The fourth source and inspiration for The Proposal is the WCC.  “It is impossible to speak of the World Council of Churches apart from the ecumenical movement (out of which it grew”  ) It is the WCC’s modern (false) view of ecumenism that seeks to create visible unity by forming associations that informed/influenced The Proposal through such documents as Towards a Common Understanding and Vision of the World Council of Churches.
It was a study of this document in 2006 that led the Joint Board of Olivet Moravian Church to conclude that the WCC view of ecumenism was so troubling that they recommended that Olivet Moravian Church withdraw all funding of the WCC and send a letter to the PEC and a resolution to the Provincial Synod requesting discontinuing Provincial support of the World Council of Churches.
Other key factors in the Full Communion document
III. The One Thing Needful –“Christ is all” or “Apostolic Succession”
In January 1999, the Consultation on Church Union (COCU, a church unity effort in the United States) held its first plenary meeting in ten years, recommending that (many were represented) churches enter into a new relationship to be called Churches Uniting in Christ. The Episcopal delegation made it clear that,
“The Episcopal Church cannot enter into a relationship that includes the mutual recognition of ordained ministry, unless it has assurance that future reconciliation will include bishops in historic succession…” 
This requirement is contradictory to the Moravian faith and the one essential as outlined by the scriptures and set forth in the Ground of the Unity,
“The Triune God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only source of our life and salvation; and this Scripture is the soul standard of the doctrine and faith of the Unitas Fratrum and therefore shapes our life.”
1 Peter 2:25 says that Jesus is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. Moravians teach that Christ makes himself present in his proclaimed Word and in his Sacraments regardless of any particular kind of human ordination. The only priest mentioned in the New Testament is Jesus himself in a letter to the Hebrews where Jesus is proclaimed as the last priest who makes other priesthoods obsolete (Heb 7.28, 9.12, 10.12). By requiring the Moravian Church to adopt an “historic episcopate” for full communion, the Episcopal Church is requiring the Moravians to forfeit the one essential. Thus, entering into Full Communion with the Episcopalians means that a human tradition becomes more definitive than Christ for unity in Christ’s church.
When a “historic episcopate” becomes a required “sign” of “visible unity” of the church as stated in the document outlining full communion, it is implied that an apostolic succession supersedes God’s Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as what unifies us as Christians in Him
“Assurance of apostolic succession” is required of each church entering into Full Communion and we are required to recognize the authority assumed by Bishops in that succession. Organizational changes will be required that affect governing structure and decision making for Moravians who practice the conferential form of government.
We must carefully consider the response of Rev. J. Kenneth Pfohl on August 12, 1917 when asked about our conferential form of government. His words were “It doesn’t matter. We do not consider it one of the essentials. But to have the heart washed clean in the Saviour’s blood and to love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity is the supreme need.”
As John Amos Comenius stated in his Panorthosia, Christ’s supremacy does not require auxiliary or circumstantial powers which others depend upon. There is no need for apostolic succession, the apostolic task is obvious. “The conversion of the world will be achieved by those who go forth as preachers, apostles, the Lord working with them.”
The Moravian Church must reject both the Governmental restructuring to become more Episcopal and any Full Communion agreement with any other denominations who seek non-biblical binding agreements. A resolution must be put in place to make this so.
IV. The Historic Episcopate is not Biblical: “Let Me Drive You to the Post Office”
Moravian Church and Christ as Chief Elder
Episcopalian Church as governance by Bishops
In 1741, action was taken to recognize Christ as Chief Elder of the Moravian Church, and leadership of the Moravian Church is exercised in responsibility to him.
In the Episcopalian Church, a Bishop is entrusted with the position of authority, and oversight representing Christ and the church.
Episcopal in its simplest form means governed by a bishop. The basis for government by a bishop comes from the belief that information has descended to present time directly from Jesus. Mouth to mouth, so to speak, beginning with His disciples, the Apostles to people living and leading the church today. This is what is meant by the term Apostolic Succession. Without debating the existence or reality of the succession, for Moravians to better understand their theology and doctrine we must understand the basis of the Reformation; the founding of Protestantism.
The Reformation was all about one’s freedom to find God, to understand the Word, to live the Word as dictated by God without the superimposed evils of society and man. With the increasing powers of the government, so came the increasing powers of the church and so the human nature responses to take advantage. The Reformation manifested; Protestantism was formed and the Protestants created ways to protect against the same skewed authority in the future. One of the “new” Protestant groups to come from the Reformation was the Moravians.
Count Zinzendorf often used the term “heart religion”. This means each individual is mandated to a personal relationship with God that will grow through a lifetime of spiritual development an individual seeks and gains through a variety of experiences, teachings and learning all the while keeping Christ and the Word of God central.
Given the above preface, the historical and current contention between some religious denominations becomes clear. An analogy that comes to mind is the post office. Let’s suppose the post office is God. If you are a Moravian you take your mail to the post office. If you are a Catholic or Episcopalian, you need the mailman to take your mail to the post office and to deliver your mail to you.
Moravians like going directly to God and His Word to find meaning and direction. Moravians see this direct link as a check and balance system against the evils of the past. We want to protect our mandate to do His will as HE alone directs. We use each other as another means of check and balance, but not as authority. Our clergy fall into this category as laity consults with them and they consult with laity.
Because our ministers and bishops are equal in terms of authority, they are removed from responsibilities that would corrupt them or keep them from their calling from God; to be spiritual leaders. This means to guide us in our pursuit of our personal relationship with God, the development of our ‘Heart Religion.” Moravians see Jesus Christ as our Chief Elder; we do not relinquish this authority to any man. In the Moravian church the ministers, the bishops, and the laity are all striving for the same thing at the same time. And we are ALL looking ONLY to HIM for the TRUTH. This is not to demean the role of the clergy in the Moravian Church. Being called by God is a spiritual gift, bestowed by God. But the gift of discernment also must be acknowledged. Not all that claim to be called, are called.
When we look at the Episcopalian Church USA with whom we are currently contemplating entering into Full Communion, we should exercise some discernment. Because they are mandating that Moravians forfeit the trip to the post office and use the mailman, we need to understand who the mailmen are. If we believed in the Apostolic Succession as the True Descended WORD of CHRIST, how could the leadership of TEC/USA contradict the word? Moravians should get back to and then continue with fervor to exercise the check and balance systems our founding leaders developed, remembering exactly who the Chief Elder is. (Colossians 1:12-18)
V. Ecumenism and Full Communion Ecumenism
There are two types of ecumenism, (1) Biblical ecumenism, and (2) False/apostate ecumenism. Biblical ecumenism is grounded in God’s Holy Word, the only source of absolute truth. When Jesus prayed to God the Father as recorded in the 17th chapter of John, He prayed that His people be sanctified through the absolute truth of scripture and Jesus himself (vs. 17 & 19), and he prayed not just for Christians (believers) at that time but for the unity of all future believers (vs. 19-21). Without question, this is a “spiritual unity” based on the Truth of God’s Word through belief on his Son, Jesus Christ. This prayer was answered starting on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 10:44) and will continue in all those who accept the saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ until Jesus returns to earth.
False or apostate ecumenism is characterized by the “modern ecumenical movement”.
Could this modern ecumenical movement be the means used to deceive Christians into embracing Full Communion while actually forming the One World Church/Religion for the Anti-Christ as is described in Revelation 17 and 18? Let’s take a look:
This movement downplays the importance of truth and doctrinal purity and refuses to practice biblical separation (Romans 16:17-18, I Timothy 4:1). It downplays the local church and applauds interdenominational and even interreligious dialogue (Galatians 1:6-12). It has “a form of godliness” but denies the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). It exchanges “The gospel which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) for the gospel of “social justice” (socialism), the gospel of “global warming” (anti-capitalism), and the gospel of “salvation by law” (good works) (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The Moravian Church of America and ALL of its “ecumenical partners” have several common denominators. Some of these common denominators include membership in the World Council of Churches (WCC), the National Council of Churches (NCC), Christian Churches Together (CCT), and all have either a direct or a “proxy” (indirect) relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. These common denominators are significant in the issue of Full Communion because:
The WCC itself states that “It is impossible to talk of the World Council of Churches apart from the [modern] ecumenical movement out of which it grew and of which it is a highly visible part.” and that the WCC and the Roman Catholic Church share in “one and the same ecumenical movement”. (“Towards a Common Understanding and Vision of the WCC”)
The WCC constitution portrays itself as a community of churches on the way to the goal of visible unity in ONE faith and in ONE Eucharistic fellowship (Full Communion or unity with “the whole of creation” including both “spiritual and secular”). Note: the WCC uses the term “Spiritual” as inclusive (pluralism) of all world religions, regardless of what they believe or who they worship. (2 Corinthians 6:14)
The WCC preaches/teaches their “Eucharistic vision” (re: Communion) to their membership who must make “a commitment to seek to implement within the life and witness of one’s [the member’s] own church”.
The NCC is closely related to the WCC, has the same goals and agenda, and also is a founding member of and has a very active role in CCT.
CCT “is inclusive of the diversity of Christian families in the United States – Evangelical, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentecostals, historic Protestant, Racial and Ethnic churches”. CCT also follows in the footsteps of the WCC and NCC in promoting and supporting the gospel of “social justice” which is actually the atheistic/socialist/Marxist ideology which has been entwined with out-of-context and misquoted scriptures, in order to have a “religious” tone. (Exodus 20:15, Mathew 26:11, Mark 14:7, and John 12:8)
The Roman Catholic Church is deeply involved in the modern ecumenical movement in conjunction with the WCC and CCT. The RCC’s “DECREE ON ECUMENISM – UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO”, states “The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only.” That church, the “one visible Church of God”, is the Roman Catholic Church.
Satan, the Father of lies (John 8:44), the great deceiver (Revelation 12:9), the master of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), and the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), has beguiled the “prophets” of the modern ecumenical movement into exchanging truth for error. John Hus was burned at the stake at the “Catholic Ecumenical Council of Constance” because he stood for God’s Truth and placed the Authority of Scripture above the authority of false gospel.
(for additional information on ecumenism, go to www.moravians.org)
Should the Moravian Church continue participating in the modern ecumenical movement and become part of the “falling away” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), or should it follow the example of John Hus and stand for God’s Truth and the Authority of Scripture?
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that, in the latter times, some shall depart from the Faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
The sad state of the Episcopal Church, USA (TECUSA) is expressed by Rev. J. Philip Ashley, who for 18 years, served in TECUSA. “The American Church (TEC) is preaching a new gospel that radically departs from Anglicanism and historic Christianity. In their own words, the Presiding Bishop (Schori) and her predecessors, bishops and other leaders of TEC have denied Jesus as the only way to the Father, denied the divinity and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Savior of the World, denied the resurrection, denied Heaven and Hell, denied Salvation through the Cross of Jesus Christ, denied the authority of Holy Scripture, denied The Creeds and denied the Biblical Standards for human sexuality affirmed by the Anglican Communion in the Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998). And in her own words, the current Presiding Bishop has demonstrated her affirmation of the classic heresies of Pelasianiam, Marcionism, Pluralism, Universalism and Gnosticism. “
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Corinthians 3:11 (King James Version)
Jesus said it best, 24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)
(for additional information on TECUSA, go to www.Moravians.org)
VII. Choose This Day
CHOOSE THIS DAY is a video, made by lay people of the Reformed Episcopal Church who seek to live and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and model His Great Commandment and Great Commission. This report is abbreviated therefore it is recommended that you read the full report and view the Video here.
The foundation of the Church is changing and Christians have a choice to make.
There is a different gospel that has come to the church and is competing for our attention. The leadership of the church (TEC) has embraced a foreign and pagan religion, yet they have not told the people in the pew.
It uses all of the old words: God, Unity, Love, Scripture and Christ but with new meaning.
These counterfeit words sound wonderful, but leave no opportunity for transformation or transportation out of this world into the Kingdom of Heaven.
This is not new but actually old ideology. For the Episcopalian Church, it began most fervently 40 years ago when the Episcopalian Church failed to discipline James Pike regarding his denial of the TRINITY.
The lack of rejection of this pagan religion/new gospel by the Episcopalian Church opened the door for the Christian faith to be eroded from the seminaries outward.
When you muddle the truth, the falsehoods become more difficult to recognize. These actions on the part of the Episcopalian Church have created a battle for the shape of Christianity in the whole world and are not a MINOR thing.
The message in the video is that laity can say to their congregations: WAKE UP, GET INFORMED, be an ACTIVE PARTICIPANT in GOD’S CHURCH.
There are some perks to be found through this entire struggle:
touching people’s hearts, expanding God’s Kingdom, developing a deeper relationship with God
What is before us is THE CHOICE:
Through communication with each other we may find that what we were told are the views of the majority, are in fact the views of the minority. Instead the truth is that MOST Christians DO CLAIM GOD and not current trends. One may find in his or her own church or denomination that people want to ignore this issue. Others may feel it is easier to ignore it, safer to ignore it. Can one afford to ignore it?
It is each person’s OBLIGATION and DUTY to SPEAK UP and DEFEND SCRIPTURE.
The power of a life that is an icon of GOD’S Truth is a power that can transform a congregation, a denomination, a nation.
Joshua appealed to the children of Israel: Choose this day whom you will serve. The choice for the church today is between authentic Christianity and a new alien religion. The prayer is for repentance, especially for the leadership of TEC.
Christians have an historic choice similar to those before us like Polycarp, the Disciple of John the Apostle, who said “I have served my Lord these 86 years; I will not turn my back on Him now.”
The choice is will we serve God or will we serve the Spirit of the Age? If we choose to serve the Spirit of the Age, we choose to be orphans who create other orphans. If we choose to serve God and we bring others into a relationship with God, then we are bringing them into a family that lasts FOREVER.
Are we fulfilling the Great Commission, repenting and seeking God in all these things? Joshua would say “Choose This Day.” It matters what you choose today. What if God asks you the question?
WHAT DID YOU DO IN THAT MOMENT?
And you must say: NOTHING.
1. THE HOLY BIBLE
2. Official Text: Finding Our Delight in the Lord (PAGES 1-38)
Finding Our Delight in the Lord: (A Proposal for Full Communion Between The Episcopal Church; and the Moravian Church–Northern Province; and the Moravian Church–Southern Province)
Table of Contents
I. Preface VI. Interchangeability of Clergy
II. Introduction VII. Joint Commission
III. Foundational Principles VIII. Wider Context
IV. Ministry of Bishops IX. Existing Relationships
V. Reconciliation of Ministries X. Other Dialogues
a) Ministries of Oversight XI. Conclusion
b) Ministry of Bishops XII. Appendices
c) Ministry of Presbyters
d) Ministry of Deacons
 FODITL page 38 ¶ 28
 FODITL page 37 ¶ 4 (a.)
 FODITL page 6 ¶ 3
 FODITL page 37 ¶ 4 (b.)
 FODITL page 1 from William Temple sermon 1937 service of Second World Conference of Faith and Order
 FODITL page 17 The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices -
Michael Kinnamon , Brian E. Cope
 FODITL page 2 footnote 2 Chapter 2 2.1 Towards a Common Understanding and Vision of the World Council of Churches – By the World Council of Churches
 COVENANT AGREEMENT WITH THE MORAVIAN CHURCH - By the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical Relations recommendations to the 218th General Assembly (2008)
RESOURCES FOR THE COUNT ZINZENDORF REPORT
Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf: An Ecumenical Pioneer, Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Summer-Fall, 1999, Arthur Freeman
Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf’s Understanding of the Church, Dr. Arthur Freeman, The Dunbaugh Lecture, March 25, 1999, Young Center for the Study of Anabaptist and Pietist Groups, Elizabethtown, PA.
www.pdfbooks.co.za/library/J.E.Hutton-History of the Moravian Church
Sawyer, Edwin. These Fifteen Pioneers of the Moravian Church, Comenius Press, Winston-Salem, NC, 1963.
Hinke, William J. The Life and Letters of the Reverend John Philip Boehm Founder of the Reformed Church in Pennsylvania 1683-1749, Publication Board of the Reformed Church of America, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1916.
Comenius, Panorthosia, 1632.
Apostolicae Curae - His Holiness Pope Leo XIII On the Nullity of Anglican Orders
Additional Resources readily available on www.Moravians.org
There were approximately 20-30 people who were intermittently involved in the Study Group. Of that number, a core group emerged of about 12-15 people. These people were the most active in the composition of the index and the short report: Art Beroth, Bobbie Beroth, Lewis and Phyllis Conrad, David Hawks, Aubrey and Pat Highfill, Leigh Ann Leinbach, Aubrey Shamel, Melanie Shamel, Lee Sprinkle, Tom Smith, Christine Yarbrough
A look at the Moravian PCUSA agreement. Attached is the complete official document “A PROPOSAL FOR A MORAVIAN/REFORMED COVENANT PARTNERSHIP”, also here is the link: http://www.mcsp.org/resources/res_ecumenical.htm
That the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical Relations recommends to the 218th General Assembly (2008) to:
2. Receive the Moravian/Reformed Covenant Partnership Agreement as an ecumenical statement (G-15.0302b) and send it to the presbyteries for their ratification.
The General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical Relations further recommends the 218th General Assembly give the following directions in implementing this ecumenical agreement:
Also Note what the document says about what being a ”covenant partner” means:
What is involved, specifically, in a covenant partnership between the Moravian Church and one or more of the Reformed communions?
We find this language, adapted from A Formula of Agreement, to be an appropriate way to conclude:
In affirming covenant partnership, each participating communion acknowledges that it is undertaking a serious commitment, one that involves actions as well as words. Covenant partnership cannot be achieved without awareness of existing differences and similarities among the partners; it will demand dedication to walking and working together in ways that may, at times, represent a break with the past. Walking together involves not only the likelihood, but also the certainty of mutual challenge and change; because of this commitment, each body will eventually be different in ways that presently cannot be seen. The partner churches commit themselves to this new relationship with seriousness of intent, and full assurance that the One who calls us to greater visible unity is faithful and worthy of trust.
10 Reasons to Vote No on Proposed Reorganization
by a Lay study Group of Concerned Moravians
Two Synods are approaching, and momentous decisions are before us in the Southern Province. Within the next 13 months we will be asked to give a green light to a restructuring process that seeks changes to how decisions, implementation and oversight are made in the province. At the next regularly scheduled synod in 2010 delegates will vote to consummate a full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church USA that like the Lutheran agreement establishes joint participation in the governing and decision processes of each denomination as well as shared assets and ministers.
There will be many changes that will flow out of the Full Communion Agreements as specified in negotiated documents prepared by the dialogue teams over the past 10 years. Implementation of many of these required changes will not be without controversy. As the Book of Order now stands Synod would have to authorize the PEC to implement each of these changes. The reorganization plan limits the authority of Synod involvement to Strategic Direction and removes those responsibilities that might be classified as micro management. The implementation team presumably will define the classification of responsibilities of Synod that fall under the category of strategic direction.
Why would we vote to reduce Synod authority and the conferential process at one of the most critical times in our History?
Here are a few thoughts from 11 lay persons who have studied both the Full Communion Agreement and the Restructuring proposal:
1. A vote NO is a vote FOR Conferential Government: See
2. A vote No is a vote acknowledging conflict resolution is effective and offers opportunities for better outcomes when all participate in a structure of shared power: A vote No is a vote for the commitment to improving the lines, methods and accountability of communications in the MCSP. Issues concerning the lack of/faulty communication are problematic areas identified by the Task Force. No change in the structure will guarantee, or even facilitate communication.
Two keys to effective communication and thus the teaching the Word of the Lord are openness and transparency among all members of our church; this includes laity and all of those in leadership positions.
Regarding openness; this is an honest and straightforward, frank and genuine effort to consistently provide accurate and truthful information. This is a vital component of communication. Without it, our credibility will falter and ultimately fail. Not only our credibility to each other as communicant members, but also credibility between leadership and laity.
Regarding transparency; this is the assurance that the process (actions and procedures) that is used to make decisions is easily and readily understood and communicated to all in a timely manner. The process that individual church leaders, boards, PEC and Provincial Boards use to make decisions should always be open, readily available, accessible and understood by all. In the not-for-profit organizations the body/board members are elected by the members and are thus accountable to the members. Most of us are accustomed to transparency in the corporate and governmental spheres. Should we expect any less from ourselves, or our leadership?
Leadership can embrace openness and transparency by:
• Building a church of shared values
• Facilitating dialogues and/or meetings that build mutual respect and trust amongst
all Church/province members
• Ensuring that open, swift and the fair exchange occurs between members and the
leadership at all levels
•. Supporting communications and common context for interpreting messages
flowing into and out of the church and province
Laity can embrace openness and transparency by:
· Working together for the mission of the church: to bring the Gospel to the unsaved
· Communicating concerns not only among each other, but also by group meetings with local, church leadership and Provincial leadership
· Being responsible and accountable for seeking information
· Supporting new communication methods and lines of communication and actively engaging and participating in the exchanges
3. A vote NO resets the process, starting from a point of greater knowledge: A vote NO is a vote for caution and discernment. There has been a relatively short time to examine all the serious ramifications that reorganization entails. A NO vote will open the process to new and perhaps better proposals. There is no reason to accept just one proposal without examining others first. It took the Task Force three years to devise the current proposal. Waiting one more year will not make any significant difference. “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalms 27:14
4. A vote No is a vote to carefully examine, support and restore the form of government as specified in the Unity Book of Order: A vote to encourage reexamination and recommitment to a unified form of government that valued and protected the voice of all members in its process as intended in the Unity Book of Order.
5. A vote no is a vote for systematic and incremental conferential processes to be developed to address each specific issue.
6. A Vote no is a vote against a long and painfully disruptive House cleaning: Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
7. A vote no is a vote against what is perceived as a string of issues and objectives that have their origins from somewhere other than the Moravian Church: laity and church professional experience feelings that their concerns brought to leadership through synod take a back seat to those of the ecumenical partners who are present and influence the process.
8. The proposed Restructuring of the Southern Province does NOT address the mandate of 2006 Synod Resolution 55:
RE: Synod (Resolution 55) dOES not mandate that the task force do anything except “examine” the provincial administration and ministries and their relationships with local congregations, “review” the report from the Stewardship Study Commission from the 2002 Synod (along with other pertinent resources), “make periodic reports to PEC”, and “make final recommendations to PEC”. A Restructuring of the Southern Province is NOT RECOMMENDATION”S”. It could be considered “ONE recommendation”. Also, the proposed restructuring does not address the “whereas” to be more faithful in its discipleship, increase our potential, or make our ministries more available and active, or the “whereas” to improve communications, polity, unity, community building, or the service to Christ.
9. The proposed Restructuring of the Southern Province does NOT address the cause of, nor does it resolve any of the problem issues:
The stated problem issues are:
· Boards and agencies are ineffective because they meet infrequently, have no direct relationship to congregations and often lack authority to make decisions.
· There is confusion in the current organizational chart.
· Finances are shrinking.
· Lack of productivity and success in most provincial ministries.
· Membership is declining
The first step to resolving these problem issues is to determine the cause(s) of the each problem and address it individually, making corrections until these issues are resolved. This can be done within the present structure.
Restructuring the province requires (and has already required) a lot of effort, time, energy, and finances that could be best applied to resolving the problem issues in a much simpler and more effective manner. It has been stated numerous times by the task force itself, and by others in provincial administration, that restructuring would not resolve the province’s problem issues.
10. The primary problem in the province was not addressed in the stated problem issues and is the root cause of all the problems in the province: The Moravian church is moving away from foundational doctrine and is failing to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 1:3). God makes it very clear when he says in Psalms 127:1 “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Jesus gives us an example in Luke 6:46-49 when he says “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”
August 15, 2009 - by Leigh Ann Leinbach
With coffee in hand and sitting at assigned seats Moravians gathered from all over the Southern Province at New Philadelphia to discuss reorganization of our church government.
Facts of the day:
Brother Neil Routh introduced each speaker through out the day and explained that “this day is not a time for debate but a time to learn – the debate will come in September.” He also explained the definition of a Special Synod, which is a “committee of the whole.” Resolutions are passed at special synods with majority vote. A special synod does not have the authority to change the constitution. Only a Stated Synod has the authority to change the constitution and to do so needs a 2/3 vote. There was only one Special Synod in the last century.
Brother Wayne Burkette outlined a brief history of the “why” behind restructuring. The past three synods beginning with 1998 gave particular attention to congregational health and provincial organizational structure. The Synod of 1998 formed a committee on Congregational Health and Development, which focused concern for developing healthier congregations. The Synod of 2002 formed a committee on Stewardship Study to assess current and future financial needs of the Province and resourceful ways to respond to financial stress. The Synod of 2006 passed Resolution 55, which created the Restructuring Task Force. Why did these synods focus so much attention in these areas? Because since 1996 the Moravian Church has experienced a 22.8% decline in total membership, and a 13.2% decrease in average Sunday attendance. These declines resulted in a provincial financial challenge with fewer members available to carry local and provincial budgets. The real question to Brother Burkette is not should we change but how do we change. He believes that the trends cannot support the current structure.
Brother Powell Winstead stated that 77 % of the Moravian Church Southern Province (MCSP) congregations have lost adult paying members. He believes that the financial pressure is coming from loss of membership versus costs, and that it is not a spending problem but a problem of scale. He also stated that he believes stewardship alone will not help increase financial stability. Ten congregations have grown since 1996 but the Task Force does not know why or how. The Task Force does not understand the root cause for decrease in membership but believes that they need to understand. Some of the identified problems by the Task Force include: Synod is tactical versus strategic, there is confusion over authority – who has authority to solve differences of opinion, the Book of Order is confusing. The boards that will be eliminated in the Proposed Structure are: Board of Christian Education, Board of Evangelism and Home Missions, the Archives Board, and the Financial Board. Brother Winstead concluded his remarks by saying that the Proposed Structure is a “framework for solution.”
If the resolution passes in September it will be phased in over a 2 – 3 year period. There will be a formation of a Structure Steering Committee (SSC) consisting of 9 members with the chair being appointed by the PEC. The SSC will consist of several subcommittees, i.e., Implementation Plan Team and Book of Order Review Team. Churches may submit names to Brother Burkette for consideration as nominees for the SSC.
During the day there was a 15-minute time for table discussion. Concerns expressed at our table included:
- In regards to the Regional Council of Churches: What if congregations don’t send representatives to the meetings? How much time will be required of representatives? Will the cluster of churches send reps or will each congregation send reps?
- What will be the accountability of the new system? How will effectiveness of
strategy of the progress at the provincial level be measured?
- The PEC becomes the Financial Board – is that wise?
Leigh Ann’s Commentary:
The bottom line is there are not enough paying members to support the staff and programs of MCSP. The Northern Province restructured 15 years ago and since has had a more rapid rate of decrease in membership than the Southern Province. The cause of decrease in membership needs to be more closely analyzed before we can construct an effective solution for reorganization. A 2007 study by the Pew Forum asked people who are currently unaffiliated but were raised in a religious environment why they left their church and more than 50% of the respondents said “the religious leaders are too focused on money and power rather than truth and spirituality.” The proposed structure usurps the authority of synod and places it in the hands of the PEC and it also undermines our conferential system. In the July/August 2009 Moravian Brother Burkette is quoted regarding the conferential system, “I trust the discernment of the body more than I trust my own.” Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will guide and protect our beloved Moravian Church.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” II Tim 3:14
An objective of the Research Study Group was to prepare questions that it felt needed to be answered. These questions have been submitted to the task force via the FAQ page at http://www.moravianstructure.org/pages/faq.php as requested at the Town Meetings. Questions selected are to be answered on that web site.
1. What were the precipitating factors that propelled the Task Force to set a directive for themselves that predetermined a reorganization plan would be the result?
2. Since communication was identified as such an important issue, why weren’t MCSP individual members or congregational boards surveyed?
3. What are the reasons that the 2006 pre Synod congregational board surveys were not utilized?
4. Given the fact that there is independent data concerning the very issues of membership, declining attendance and declining revenues, why wasn’t that data utilized?
5. The PEC is presently the governing body of the Ministers and the Churches and has evidently in the past been unable to have the communication it desires and the desired cooperation and participation of a number of the Ministers and Churches. Upon what basis does the PEC expect improved communication and cooperative participation under the proposed structure above and beyond the proposed Regional Council of Churches
6. If the restructure is passed and the expected communication and cooperative participation does not come forth from the Ministers and the Churches, how will the PEC address this? These exact same problems have existed for some time under their governance and continue to exist today.
7. What are the “fires being put out” by the PEC today? No descriptions were given in the report. How has it been determined that the new structure will address these ‘fiery issues’. If the new structure is not the solution, where will these ‘fiery issues’ be handled?
8. At the town meetings the TF responded to the question why their report was not made available for study before the town meetings. Their response was that after their research was completed they spent 3 months meeting with the PEC in long meetings; some as long as 3 hours. If they had prepared the report before those meetings it would have had to be changed. Why weren’t details of the PEC discussions that resulted in changes to the report and or recommendations, and possibly the focus of that report, not included in the report?
9. How did the recommendations from the task force evolve from the original recommendations taken to the PEC to the final published recommendations as their 3 months of meetings progressed? Where can the minutes/notes from these meeting be viewed?
10. Given the historical significance of the conferential form of government and the reasons Moravian forefathers were reluctant to have the decision making power in the hands of a few, what is the rational in the decreased voice/influence and power of laity?
11. In response to a question from the floor at the Clemmons town meeting, Bishop Graham Rights stated that the new form of government was not hierarchical. He explained that on the contrary, the hierarchy is turned upside down; congregations will have a voice through the delegates they elect who elect the PEC at synods. Does this mean the new structure will encourage delegates to be representatives and vote the wishes of their congregations?
12. Who will determine when the implementation team will be discontinued? And what criteria will be utilized?
13. Will the Implementation team report to synod between 2009 and 2010 synod? Will this communication be available to the members of the MCSP?
14. Will there be any criteria for evaluation of the effectiveness of the new structure and resulting changes? If so what is this criteria and who is responsible for measuring the results against this criteria? If there is no criteria for evaluation, who will be responsible for identifying and documenting the criteria? Who will be responsible to measuring the results against the criteria? What are the time frames for these measurements?
15. Why was the Episcopal Church referred to as using the eight principles of a healthy church at the King meeting but never mentioned again at remainder of Town meetings? Please explain how the Episcopal Church USA meets each of the 8 guidelines of a healthy church.
16. The Task Force determined that changing the organization of church government would not address the problems in r-55 and that only Healthy Churches would solve the problem. Why wasn’t that a “guiding principle”? Why wasn’t this (Healthy Churches) an integral component of their recommendations and the resulting resolution for 2009 synod?
17. How would reorganization make the church healthier? In what way(s)? Are there other ways to make the church healthier without reorganization? What are those?
18. Did the TF conclude that previous efforts to address communication concerns and to promote Healthy congregations had failed because of the existing structure? If yes, please explain. If no, please clarify the relationship between a healthy church and the proposed structure.
19. Were there any Provincial costs associated with this TF? If so, how much money was spent and on what items. Would there be any Provincial costs associated with the implementation ? If so, what is the budget for this? What cost is estimated to occur before the present plan can be implemented and completed?
20. How does dissolving the BEC, BEHM and the Finance Board and moving the governance of the Archives to the PEC add to making healthy congregations?
21. Can a Church be healthy if the Minister is not healthy?
by Lee Sprinkle
originally written 2006
The following article was originally written prior to the 2006 Southern Provincial Synod. I was a delegate to synod and involved in pre-synod meetings designed to prepare delegates for that synod.
Synod is the most important decision making body of the Moravian Church. The Provincial Synod has the supreme legislative power of the Province in all things not committed to the Unity Synod. It shall consist of elected delegates and official members; it shall determine the qualification of its own members; it shall prescribe what bodies shall be entitled to representation, and on what basis, and in what manner to be elected.
Their work sets the direction for the Church for the next four years. Good decisions can unify and cement Churches together in Christ. Poor decisions can divide Churches and members from each other and from Christ.
Delegates have been nominated and voted into their positions by congregations and or agencies to act as their delegates.
According to Webster’s Dictionary:
Delegate; to send with a commission, One sent and empowered to act for another; a deputy; a representative. One commissioned to represent others, as in a convention.
This definition clearly specifies that delegates should understand and represent the concerns or positions of their congregations or agencies to synod.
As delegates gathered at various pre-synod preparation meetings around the Southern Province they were given a different definition for their role as delegate.
At the First meeting Rev Neil Routh stressed that Delegates are not to be bound to representing their Congregation or agency. They are not representatives and should not feel compelled to bring any issues or concerns from their congregations.
The differences between delegates and representatives were emphasized in the following power point frame presented by Rev Routh.
Delegate vs. Representative
A representative is elected to express the opinion of the electing body the Synod.A delegate is elected to discern and respond to the actions of Synod from his/her own sense of conviction.
A representative may or may not connect with other representatives to form a community as decision makers
It is critical for a delegate to see himself or herself as part of delegate body, which is seeking to discern the will of God for the church. This body, which is formed by the delegates, Is Synod.
Synod is the primary decision making body of the province with the exception of matters of doctrine (which are reserved by the Unity Synod.
Works of the congregations, the clergy, the provincial agencies and boards, including the Provincial Elders’ Conference, are an extension of Synod.
Rev Routh reminded delegates again at the second meeting that they are not to be bound as a representative of their Congregation or Agency. Instead they should come to Synod ready to dialogue with other Delegates and be lead by the Holy Spirit.
Not knowing where Rev Routh got his definition, I looked for possible sources.
I found this communication from the DPC and PEC to the churches in a pamphlet titled “What it is all about?“. Underlined emphasis was by the Province in the original document.
Congregations are encouraged to elect delegates from various age groups. While congregations elect representatives from among their members, delegates are not bound by instructions from their constituents and should vote according to their own convictions.
From the 2002 Book of Order Chapter V The Province Sec. 403
In representing the interest of their electors of their office, members of synod must not lose sight of the interest of the Province and of the Unity as a whole. Members of a synod vote according to their own conviction and are not bound by instructions of their constituents given beforehand.
I believe the statement from the Book of Order holds the key to understanding how the incorrect definition might have evolved. It is important that one carefully reads the entire statement and not simply lift the last sentence. One should conclude that Sec. 403 is stating that the primary task should be representing the interest of the electors keeping in mind the interest of the Province and the Unity as a whole.
In light of recent interest in defining Conferential Government and its Historic significance for Moravians who utilized that form of Government to avoid centralization of power in the hands of a few. I would encourage delegates and congregations to make themselves aware of the actual language in the Book of Order. Delegates have a responsibility to represent the interest of their electors. Congregations likewise have an obligation to elect delegates who demonstrate genuine empathy for their interests.
In the Clemmons town meeting Bishop Graham Rights responded to a comment that the proposed organizational structure seemed more hierarchical (more power in the hands of the PEC). Bishop Rights said on the contrary he sees it as being upside down, with control from the congregations flowing up. He explained that Congregations elect synod delegates who elect PEC members at synod.
Bishop Right’s example of how conferential government should work is in contridiction with instructions given to delegates not to be representatives of their electing bodies.
Delegates must understand that taking on the responsibility of representative will require much more work. They must seek out opinions from their fellow members, their boards and their local congregational leaders in order to establish what opinions and visions they are to represent at synod.
Congregations must understand that it is their responsibility to inform delegates of their concerns and interest.
I simply find it quite amazing how understandings of written statements can evolve. This may be a very good example of how we cannot look to evolving statements produced by synod as the bases for writing theological statements. (Whatever expressions of theology and doctrine come from a synod, that they should clearly stand within the framework of Synod statements of our common faith the; Moravian Covenant for Christian Living and the Ground of the Unity? We must continue our Moravian vigilance to affirm scripture as the source of our doctrine, faith and life (practice).
Olivet Moravian Church
2006 Synod Delegate
By Bishop George Higgins
The Moravian Church has a conferential system of government that is based on a written Constitution and Rules and Regulations. By conferential we mean that authority is vested in boards rather than individuals. It is Boards, through the process of consultation and discussion, that establish policy and make decisions.
This conferential system of Church government had its beginning in the experience of September 16, 1741. On this date the Synodal Conference of Moravian leaders, meeting in London, England, arrived at the decision that Christ should be the Chief Elder of the Brethren’s Church. Leonard Dober, the last to hold the office, had resigned. No one could be agreed upon as his successor; The Conference took this as divine leading. In the words of Count Zinzendorf, “immediately all of us reached the decision not to appoint anyone but Him to be our Chief Elder.
In the Hamilton History of the Moravian Church, it is stated, “The experience made in 1741 may also be said to have saved the Moravian Church from any threat of a spiritual popedom.” Christ and Christ alone is the head of His Church.
THE CALL OF MINISTERS: The conferential system can perhaps be best illustrated by the method used by the Southern Province in the calling of ministers. The Book of Order (paragraph 850) says, “The procedure for the issuance of calls is carried out as a part of and in conformity with the conferential system of government of the Moravian Church. Under this system the issuance of a call to a brother or sister comes after all needful conferences are held between the Provincial Elder’s Conference and the responsible board.” In a local congregation the responsible board is called the Joint Board and is made up of the Board of Elders and the Board of Trustees. In some cases this may only be one board, called the Church Board.
PROVINCIAL STRUCTURE: The delegates to Synod are the ordained ministers of the Province and certain ex-officio delegates such as the members of the Provincial Elder’s Conference, members of the Provincial Financial Board and the heads of certain boards and agencies. The majority of the delegates to Provincial Synod are delegates from the congregations that are elected by the church council of each congregation on a fixed ratio according to the number of communicant members as set by the Provincial Synod.
The Provincial Elder’s Conference is the Executive Board of the Province and manages the affairs of the Province between the meetings of the Synod.
Local Congregations: The local congregation is an integral part of the system of government of the Southern Province. It participates as a full partner in the conferential system of government. A model for the structure of a congregation is provided for in the “Synod Approved Recommendations of Rules and Regulations for Moravian Churches of the Southern Province” in The Book of Order, paragraph 1500.
The structure of a local congregation can be visualized by means of a simple diagram. It is to be noted that the Pastor is ex-officio chairman of the Board of Elders. The Trustees elect one of their own members chairman. In meetings of the Joint Boards the chairman or vice-chairman of the Elders presides.
Another way of thinking of the work of the Boards is in terms of who and what they supervise. The board of Elders supervise the choirs of the congregation, the band, the educational agencies (Sunday School, VBS, membership training groups). They also supervise the work of any committees which they appoint. Elders committees vary from one or two to several-e.g., Christian Education, Evangelism and Membership, Worship and Music, Congregational Life and Programming, Christian Concerns, and Family Life.
The Board of Trustees appoint and supervise the janitorial staff and the treasurers, as well as any committees they may appoint to help them in their work. Trustee committees are often a budget committee, a committee on Building and Grounds, and a parsonage committee. Some churches have a God’s Acre or graveyard committee. The trustees also supervise the work of paid personnel such as the church secretary and the financial secretary.
The Moravian Church in the work of its synods, councils, boards, agencies and committees follows the principle of majority rule. Each and every member of a group in the Moravian Church has the privilege of debate and discussion. Where there is a difference of opinion, all members should abide by and accept the will of the majority. This is done in a spirit of love and unity.
Members of the Church: No discussion of the government of the Moravian Church would be complete without emphasizing the place of the individual member in such a government. The place of the individual is primary. Each member’s rights and privileges should be defined and protected and his or her duties and responsibilities sharply defined. This is one of the tasks of church government.
(excerpts from The Government of The Moravian Church by Bishop George Higgins)
Note: Resolution #34, Synod 2006, calls for PEC to define “conferential government” and propose a definition to the next synod for the Book of Order.
Our system of Conferential Government is a gift of God to the Moravian Church. While any particular system of church government is not an essential (in the sense of the good will of God, the saving work of Christ, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, with our response of faith, love, and hope), the Church itself, as seen by the Ancient Unity, was one of the ministrative things given by God to help us to the essentials. While details of administration may vary from place to place and time to time (i.e. non-essential), any church or denomination has to have some sort of organization. Conferential Government, evolved and adapted over time, is the form with which God has graciously blessed us.
History has seen various forms of church government ranging from “all decisions made by one individual” to “everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.” As is typical, our Moravian form of government comes towards the center between these two extremes.
In accord with the image of the Church expressed in I Corinthians 12 and Colossians 1, etc. (Christ is the Head of the Church and we are all members of the Body) we look to Christ as our Chief Elder, from whom all authority derives and upon whom all else depends. We must respond individually to the call of Christ, but having done so we are incorporated into his living body, the church. Within that body each of us is a living member with varying gifts and responsibilities. As we say in our Pentecost Liturgy: “The diverse and empowering gifts of the Spirit are given to each one for the common good. None of us is useless to God. None of us is sufficient alone. We serve through the body of Christ, and we depend on the people of Christ.”
Just as in the human body, all the members of the body must depend on, work in conjunction with, and support one another if the body is to function as it should. The body not only functions but thrives only when all the members contribute their individual strengths to those of other members to make the body far more than a mere collection of independent members.
In concrete terms of church government, this means that we have been led to evolve a series of interlocking “conferences” (including Synods, congregational and agency boards), each of which derives its authority from Christ the Chief Elder and is to work with others to fulfill the Lord’s will and mission. Within these various “conferences”, which themselves may be constituted differently according to the needs of the time, grace and human experience have led us to use the varying strengths and insights of several individuals at once for the more effective functioning of that part of the body. (To use the human body analogy again, the liver is not made up of just one cell). There are varying levels of responsibility, but no one is essentially superior to the other. We are all responsible to each other, and ultimately to our Lord and Savior.
By Tommy Smith
“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” ( John 4:35)
The general concept of the mission of the Church in the world is that it is here to make the world better, to lead it to a higher plane of life, to be a factor in its civilization, its asset of righteousness and the guarantee of its integrity. The Church is to make the world a better world for the natural man to live in and to make the natural man a better man to live in the world.
To this end the Church and the Christian minister as the representative of the Church are to engage in all moral and reform movements, identify themselves with all sociological endeavors and join hands with good men everywhere in the effort to purify and stabilize government.
In response to this concept, I reply that it is wholly unwarranted in the Word of God; and that the very constitution and outlook of the Church repudiate it. The Church is not here to make the world better. On the contrary, the Church is here to testify the world cannot be made better; that so far from being made better it will go from bad to worse The Church is not here to decorate the world and sing songs of hope, cry peace when there is no peace, but to save mankind out of the world.
There are three ways in which the Church is to do this:
First, by preaching the Gospel
Second, by invoking and surrendering to the operative power of the Holy Spirit.
Third, by individual witnessing; the impingement of personal life upon personal Life.
The Church is to be sure it is the Gospel. It is to be good news to those who hear it; the news that God has provided a way of redemption and regeneration for mankind; the good news that the death of Jesus Christ has met the claims of the divine righteousness against man as man.
The Church is to go out and say that in this age it is no longer the sin question, but the Son question; that God is not making any issue about the fact or degree of sin in man having concluded all, both good and bad, under sin , but raising one question and one only. That question is, “What do you think of my Son?” The Church is to tell man, no matter how lost in vice and sin anyone may be, “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. (John 3:16); no matter how good and true any person may be, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). Salvation is for faith; damnation for unbelief.
The Church is here to impress upon men two essential facts: the fact of the soul and the fact of eternity. There is no other system on earth that has this mission but the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Church is here to warn the world that its best system of civilization will be swept away by judgments at the coming of the Lord. The Church is in the world to be the living protest against the old nature of the flesh and the constant witness of a new and spiritual humanity which is received from a risen and immortal Christ.
The Church is here to deny, every day by Her teachings and the life of Her members, that the natural man can enter the Kingdom of God or even so much as please God. The Church is to be here every day as the living testimony of the Law of the Kingdom, “Ye must be born again”. (John 3:7) The Church, while in the world, is not of the world.
The Church is not only to invite man to Christ and therefore to Her membership in the name of infinite and abiding Love; the Church is not only to proclaim that God is Love; but She must, without fail, lift up the voice of warning to mankind individually and to a world blinded with its own culture. She must warn them that instead of the purple and gold of millennial days, there must be first the clouded Heavens, the shivering earth and the judgment voice of God.
Let the Church in the hour of Her opportunity be faithful and while testifying of a living and coming Lord, not only invite man to surrender to Him and be saved, but in all steadfastness of Truth lift up Her voice of warning to a world each day pushing onto judgment.
Based on a pamphlet by I.M. Haldeman, D.D.