Home Moravian Church kicked off the celebration of its 250th Anniversary at 10 a.m. on Saturday Nov. 13 in Salem Square. The event began with a congregational brunch, followed by remarks by Mayor Allen Joines and Rt. Rev. D. Wayne Burkette.
Following the meal and program, Home Church members and friends took part in activities launching a year-long emphasis on prayer, service, and generosity.
Among the activities was the installation of markers at the St. Philips Second Graveyard on the corner of Cemetery Street and Salem Avenue. This historic graveyard contains more than 300 mostly unmarked burials of people of African descent, including persons enslaved by the Moravian Church. Recent work in the graveyard has included a fundraising campaign to purchase engraved stones for identifiable burials. At noon on November 13, 32 stones were placed during a short worship service.
The church now known as Home Moravian was the anchor of the religious community of Salem, founded in 1766 by a group of German Moravians, pre-Reformation Protestants, who had moved here from Pennsylvania to settle on the 100,000-acre Wachovia tract. The town of Winston began to grow alongside Salem in the 19th century, and the two communities officially joined in 1913.
The Salem Moravian church spawned 12 additional churches throughout the city’s southern and western sections. The original church became known as the Home Church, and together the group of individual churches is now known as the Salem Congregation. The Salem Congregation is known for establishing the Easter Sunrise Service in North America, after it was first celebrated by Moravians in Germany.
After their founding worship service on November 13, 1771, for three decades the Salem Moravians worshipped in the Gemein Haus (community house), which stood where Salem College’s Main Hall is now. The current Sanctuary building to the north was completed and dedicated in 1800, with its iconic bell tower and steeple. The hand-wound tower clock continues to chime the hours and quarter-hours today.
The 250th Anniversary celebration will continue for the next 12 months, with a different focus each month, including hunger and poverty in our community, racial justice, women’s issues, environment and mental health.
Other congregational activities on Nov. 13 included:
- Participating in a special prayer service at Salemtowne, the Moravian retirement community.
- Trimming candles for the 2021 Candle Tea, to be held outdoors on Salem Square on Dec. 4.
- Writing notes with special greetings to Brothers and Sisters to let them know we love them.
- Learning and working in Wachovia Garden, which supplies food for Sunnyside Ministries.
- Helping to create a special commemorative quilt.
- Stocking the Sunnyside Ministries van with food donations. On Nov. 13 we met our goal of collecting 5,000 pounds of food for our community, 2,500 recognizing the first 250 years – 2,500 anticipating the next 250 years.
On Sunday, Nov. 14, at 10 a.m. a very special worship service was held, featuring new music commissioned for the occasion.
Visitors are always welcome to join us for worship, fellowship and educational activities. Masks are required for indoor gatherings. All worship services are livestreamed at https://homemoravian.org/worship.
Home Church and Moravian history: https://homemoravian.org/history
Home Church architectural history, including clock: https://homemoravian.org/videos
Home Moravian YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/home1771/videos
St. Philips Moravian Church: https://moravianarchives.org/congregations/st-philips-moravian-church
History of the Southern Province: Moravian Archives, https://moravianarchives.org
Moravian Music: Moravian Music Foundation, https://moravianmusic.org