JULY 18-21, 2002
Winston-Salem, North Carolina USA
A Pastoral Letter to the Congregations-Southern and Northern Provinces
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all." Sixteen bishops/bishops-elect of the Southern and Northern Provinces gathered at Home Moravian Church for three days of worship, deliberation, and prayer, including intercession for the whole Church. We rejoice in a fellowship and unity that supercedes our diversity. We feel uplifted, strengthened and encouraged for our future walk together as sisters and brothers in the Church we love as reflected in the Moravian Unity.
We sense the leading of God's Spirit as our
two provinces have spoken clearly in expressing the desire for an even more
intentional leadership of the Bishops in the life of our Church, through
legislation and election of four new Bishops. We respond by renewing
our commitment and resolve to reach out to our congregations, our clergy
and their families in loving concern and support. How shall we lead
? Recognizing that the office of Bishop is a "symbol of the continuity of
the church's ministry and is a focus of unity for the church as a whole"
(Handbook for Bishops of the Moravian Church), we first and foremost obey
and serve our one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In fulfilling that commitment,
we will be open and devoted to ministry with all people.
We then lift up for us all a shared acceptance
of the Ground of our Unity as
a statement of our belief and the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living
as a statement of how we live our lives. We invite congregations to
place copies of these two documents in the hands of all members, urging each
to be prayerfully studied.
We pray for a growing desire and passion in
our provinces to reach new people for Christ, with an invitation to experience
a living and exciting relationship with Him as Lord and Savior. The
establishment of new churches is therefore a priority for our provinces.
We are saddened by the conflicts that have
become divisive and destructive of relationships within our Unity, and yet
we are encouraged by the vital, transforming ministries present in our provinces
and congregations. Mindful of the growing current of division and separation,
we pray the the Holy Spirit will bring about a rising tide of understanding
and respect that fulfills our Lord's commandment to love one another thus
demonstrating that we are his disciples.
By faith we affirm the certainty of God's
presence in times of uncertainty, the light of Christ in the most overshadowed
moment, and hope even in the most desperate situation. We commend to
you, our sisters and brothers, the ministry we have been given as described
in II Corinthians 5:18, "all this is from God, who reconciled us to himself
through Christ, and has given us the minstry of reconciliation." It is our
hope and prayer that together we will adopt this minstry, fully utilizing
the fruits of the Spirit with one another, those of love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians
Yours in Christ,