From the 11th Interprovincial Conference of Bishops

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 5:22)

Yours in Christ,

Wilbur Behrend
Percival R. Henkleman
Milo Loppnow
Edwin A. Sawyer
D. Wayne Burkette
James C. Hughes
Graham H. Rights
Stanley F. Thomas
C. Hopeton Clennon
Robert A. Iobst
Lane A. Sapp
Kay Ward
Paul A. Graf
Douglas H. Kleintop
Warren A. Sautebin
John Wilson