The Irish Moravians (United Brethren) are an important part of Irish and American history. They were good record keepers. Many immigrated to Moravian communities in America. Initial immigration was in two areas; then spreading out. One was the Winston-Salem, North Carolina area on the Moravian Tract. The other migration was to three towns in southeastern Pennsylvania; Bethlehem and Nazareth in Northampton County and Lititz in Lancaster County.
Organized in 1457 in Bohemia by Jan Huss, Moravians pre-date the Protestant Reformation. The church arrived in Ireland in 1746 through missionaries from England. The influence of the Moravians cannot be underestimated. Methodist founder John Wesley received his famous “Aldersgate Experience” in 1738 at a Moravian meeting. Out of Wesley’s influence would arise the Wesleyan-Holiness and Pentecostal-Charismatic movements. These transformations within world Christianity can all be traced back to Wesley’s contact with Moravian Piety. Evangelicals point to the Moravians as the initiators of revival and the architects of modern missions.
The Moravians were mainly found in Ulster and Dublin. The “Mother Church” was thefull scale community at Gracehill, County Antrim founded in 1765. Gracehill is remembered for is its educational standard. The Moravian school became famous throughout Ireland and attracted pupils from the highest segments of Irish society. By 1834, there were about 5,000 Moravians in Ireland.
Moravian records are mainly housed at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast. The Irish church is part of the British Province: www.moravian.org.uk/
Due to a request about my “They Came From County Cork – Maybe Not…” blog dated April 10, 2012, I will be presenting some special blogs on Irish Emigration starting Monday the 23rd of April.
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