About the Sharon Moravian Church

The Sharon Moravian Church is a member congregation of the Moravian Church Eastern West Indies Province.

The Sharon congregation was founded in 1768 at Bunker’s Hill, St. Thomas — an area now also known as Old Sharon. In 1795 the mission was removed to its present location and named “Sharon.” No doubt, to the missionaries of the time, moving from Bunker’s Hill where they had more than their share of setbacks, the new location on the plains below, nearby the gully and watercourse, promised the fruitfulness of the biblical Sharon (Isa. 65:9-10; 35:1-7) — the verdant, coastal plain of Northern Palestine.

On February 10, 1799, the foundation stone of Sharon was laid, and the structure was built with the willing assistance of the slave congregation.

It is by God’s grace and dedicated and humble service that the congregation at Sharon grew. Over the years Sharon has served as a place for spiritual edification and growth, and the overall advancement of the people.

The present membership seeks to be faithful to the call of God in Christ, and to maintain the legacy of over 236 years of service to God and all persons. Thus the Sharon congregation eagerly pursues the vision of the Moravian Church Eastern West Indies Province which is, A church, transformed, united, and victorious in Christ.

In pursuit of the vision the congregation endeavours to fulfill the mission of the Province expressed in the statement, By the grace of God, we seek to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ; without distinction, we use all that we possess to call all peoples to the truth of the Gospel through worship, evangelism, discipleship and service.

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What We Believe

¶ 1. The Lord Jesus Christ calls His Church into being so that it may serve Him here on earth until He comes. The Unitas Fratrum (The Moravian Church) is, therefore, aware of its being called in faith to serve humankind by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It recognizes this call to be the source of its being and the inspiration of its service. As is the source, so is the aim and end of its being based upon the will of its Lord.

¶ 2. The Place of the Unitas Fratrum (The Moravian Church) in Christendom

With the whole of the Christendom we share faith in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We believe and confess that God has revealed Himself once and for all in His Son Jesus Christ; that our Lord has redeemed us with the whole humankind by His death and His resurrection; and that there is no salvation apart from him. We believe that He is present with us in the Word and the Sacrament; that He directs and unites us through His Spirit and thus forms us into a Church. We hear Him summoning us to follow Him, and pray Him to use us in His service. He joins us together mutually, so that knowing ourselves to be members of His body we become willing to serve one another.

¶ 3. A Church of Sinners Saved by Grace

In the light of divine grace, we recognize ourselves to be a Church of sinners. We require forgiveness daily, and live only through the mercy of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. He redeems us from our isolation and unites us into a living Church of Jesus Christ.

¶ 4. God's Word and Doctrine

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 sole standard of the doctrine and faith of the Unitas Fratrum and therefore shapes our life.

The Unitas Fratrum recognises the Word of the Cross as the centre of the Holy Scripture and of all preaching of the Gospel. It sees its primary mission, and its reason for being, consist in bearing witness to this joyful message. We ask our Lord for the power never to stray from this.

The Unitas Fratrum takes part in the continual search for sound doctrine. In interpreting Scripture and in the communication of doctrine in the Church, we look to two millennia of ecumenical Christian tradition and the wisdom of our Moravian forebears in the faith to guide us as we pray for fuller understanding and ever clearer proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But just as the Holy Scripture does not contain any doctrinal system, so the Unitas Fratrum also has not developed any of its own because it knows that the mystery of Jesus Christ which is attested to in the Bible, cannot be comprehended completely by any human mind or expressed completely in any human statement. Also, it is true that through the Holy Spirit the recognition of God's will for salvation in the Bible is revealed completely and clearly.

¶ 5. Creeds and Confessions

The Unitas Fratrum recognizes in the Creeds of the Church the thankful acclaim of the Body of Christ. These Creeds aid the church in formulating a Scriptural confession, in marking the boundary of heresies, and in exhorting believers to an obedient and fearless testimony in every age. The Unitas Fratrum maintains that all creeds formulated by the Christian Church stand in need of constant testing in the light of the Holy Scriptures. It acknowledges as such professions of faith the early Christian witness: "Jesus Christ is Lord!" and also especially the ancient Christian creeds and the fundamental creeds of the Reformation.

NOTE: In the various Provinces of the Renewed Unitas Fratrum the following creeds in particular gained special importance, because in them the main doctrines of the Christian faith find clear, simple expression:

  • The Apostles' Creed

  • The Athanasian Creed

  • The Nicene Creed

  • The Confession of the Unity of the Bohemian Brethren of 1662

  • The Twenty-one Articles of the unaltered Augsburg Confession

  • The Shorter Catechism of Martin Luther

  • The Synod of Berne of 1532

  • The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England

  • The Theological Declaration of Barmen 1934

  • The Heidelberg Catechism.

¶ 6. The Unitas Fratrum as a Unity

We believe in and confess the Unity of the Church, given in the one Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour. He died that He might unite the scattered Children of God. As the living Lord and Shepherd, He is leading His flock toward such unity.

The Unitas Fratrum espoused such unity when it took over the name of the Old Bohemian Brethren's Church, "Unitas Fratrum" (Unity of the Brethren). Nor can we ever forget the powerful, unifying experience granted by the crucified and risen Lord to our fathers ancestors in Hernnhut on the occasion of the Holy Communion of August 13, 1727, in Berthelsdorf.

It is the Lord's will that Christendom should give evidence of and seek unity in Him with zeal and love. In our own midst, we see how such unity has been promised us and laid upon us as a charge. We recognize that through the grace of Christ the different churches have received many gifts. It is our desire that we may learn from each other and rejoice together in the riches of the love of Christ and the manifold wisdom of God.

We confess our share in the guilt which is manifested in the severed and divided state of Christendom. By means of such divisions we ourselves hinder the message and power of the Gospel. We recognize the danger of self-righteousness and judging others without love.

Since we, together with all Christendom, are pilgrims on the way to meet our coming Lord, we welcome every step that brings us nearer the goal of unity in Him. He Himself invites us to communion in His supper. Through it, He leads the Church toward that union which He has promised. By means of His presence in the Holy Communion, He makes our unity in Him evident and certain, even today.

¶ 7. The Church as a Family

The Church of Jesus Christ, despite all the distinctions between male and female, Jew and non-Jew, white and coloured, poor and rich, is one in its Lord. The Unitas Fratrum recognizes no distinction between those who are one in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to testify that God in Jesus Christ brings His people out of "every race, kindred and tongue" into one body, pardons sinners beneath the Cross and brings them together. We oppose any discrimination in our midst because of race or standing, and we regard it as a commandment of the Lord to bear public witness to this and to demonstrate by word and deed that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

¶ 8. The Church as a Ministering Community

Jesus Christ came not to be ministered unto but to minister. The Church accepts service to Him as its only vocation. Each member is called to this ministry. We believe that in the Renewed Unity, the Lord has called us particularly to mission both at home and abroad, to which the Lord commits us. He expects us to confess Him and witness to His love in unselfish service.

¶ 9. Serving our Neighbour

Our Lord Jesus entered into this world's misery to bear it and overcome it. We seek to follow Him in serving His Brothers and Sisters. Like the love of Jesus this service knows no bounds. Therefore we pray the Lord ever anew to point out to us the way to reach our neighbor, opening our heart and hand to the one in need.

¶ 10. Serving the World

Jesus Christ maintains in love and faithfulness His commitment to this fallen world. Therefore we must remain concerned for this world. We may not withdraw from it through indifference, pride or fear. Together with the universal Christian Church, the Unitas Fratrum challenges humankind with the message of the love of God, striving to promote the peace of the world and seeking to attain what is best for all. For the sake of this world, the Unitas Fratrum hopes for and looks to the day when the victory of Christ will be manifest over sin and death and the new world will appear.

¶ 11. Jesus Christ is the one Lord and Head of His body, the Church. Because of this, the Church owes no allegiance to any authority whatsoever which opposes His dominion. The Unitas Fratrum treasures in its history the vital experience of the Headship of Christ of September 16th and November 13th, 1741.

The Unitas Fratrum recognizes that it is called into being and has been sustained hitherto only through the incomprehensible grace of God. Thanksgiving and praise for this remains the keynote of its life and ministry.

In this spirit, it awaits the appearing of Jesus Christ, goes forward to meet its Lord with joy, and prays to be found ready when He comes.

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The Brotherly Agreement

1.         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 sole standard of the doctrine and faith of the Unitas Fratrum and therefore shapes our life.

 2.        The Bible shall be our constant study:  We shall read it with prayer for the influence and teaching of the Holy Spirit.

 3.        We will faithfully attend the service in the House of God and any special services that may be held in connection with our Church.  We will be diligent in private prayer and will practise and encourage family worship.

 4.        Realizing that we have been called into fellowship with our Lord  and Saviour Jesus Christ, and being desirous that we shall be recognized as His followers, we shall conscientiously abstain from all amusements which would be inconsistent with the Christian life.  We will avoid gambling of every kind.

 5.        Knowing that fornication, drunkenness and all other sins of the flesh are condemned in the Word of God, we will determine by His grace to live pure and morally upright lives.

 6.        Covetousness, dishonest practices in trade and wilful deceit are evils which are hindrances to the life of the Christians.  These we will seek to avoid in our daily dealings with others.

 7.        We will earnestly oppose all superstition, obeahism and “false revivalism”.

 8.        We will avoid envy, malice, revenge, strife, quarrelling and evil speaking.  We will seek to be truthful and endeavour to live in the spirit of peace and good will to others, remembering that lying, profane language, such as swearing, abuse, unclean talk and all other sins of the tongue are contrary to the Spirit of Christ.

 9.        We acknowledge that it is our duty to obey the laws of the land in which we live, and we will endeavour to promote good citizenship.

 10.      We will endeavour to settle our differences with others in a Christian manner and only seek the aid of the courts of the law as a last resort and with the sanction of our ministers.

 11.      By our industry, sobriety and thrift, we will endeavour to erect proper houses and maintain good homes.

 12.      As parents and guardians we will bring up our children in a Christian manner and endeavour to secure for them the advantages of good education.

 13.      We believe it to be our duty as Christians to care for our aged parents and helpless members of our families, and at the same time to exercise public charity as it may be within our power to bestow.

 14.      As stewards of the gifts of God, we will support the spread of the Gospel at home and abroad by means of our tithes and freewill offerings.

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About the Moravian Church

ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF THE UNITAS FRATRUM

The Unitas Fratrum, or Moravian Church, is that branch of the Christian Church which began its distinct life at Kunvald in Bohemia in the year 1457. It was born of the great revival of faith at the close of the Middle ages, arising from the national revival of religion in Bohemia, in which the writings of Wyclif had great influence, and of which John Hus was the greatest leader. Within the movement, Peter of Chelcic represented the traditions of eastern puritanism and freedom from official control in matters of religion.

Amidst these influences, the Unitas Fratrum was founded, under the leadership of Gregory the Patriarch, with a three-fold ideal of faith, fellowship and freedom, and a strong emphasis on practical Christian life rather than on doctrinal thought or Church tradition. The Statutes of Reichenau, 1464, contain the earliest statement of this common mind.

The numbers of the Unitas Fratrum grew rapidly. This extension drew attention of the church authorities to the Brethren, who were denounced as heretical and treasonable. They sought to maintain a living contact with the early Church, having obtained from the Waldenses the traditional orders of the ministry, including the episcopacy, and thus became an independent ecclesiastical body. The power of the state was then called in to suppress them; but persecution furthered their growth, until they came to include as their adherents about one- third of the population of Bohemia and Moravia.

The Brethren were enabled to maintain a living fellowship in Christ with the help of the Bible and hymns in their own tongue, a careful system of discipline, and schools for the young. The Brethren met Luther and other Reformers on equal terms, taught them the value of an effective church discipline, and gained from them new insights into the nature of a saving faith.

In the trouble of the reaction against the Reformation, times of persecution alternated with times of comparative calm, until at last in 1620 the Roman Church was placed in power by foreign armies, and the Unitas Fratrum, with other Protestant bodies, was utterly suppressed. The influence of Bishop John Amos Comenius, who had preserved the discipline of the church, and who had pioneered educational method, was a great source of strength after the disruption of the church. He never ceased to pray and to plead publicly for the restoration of his beloved church. Strengthened by this faith, a “Hidden Seed” survived in Bohemia and Moravia, to emerge a hundred years later in the Renewed Church.

Between the 1722 and 1727, some families from Moravia, who kept the traditions of the old Unitas Fratrum, found a place of refuge in Saxony, on the estate of Nicolaus Ludwig, Count Zinzendorf and built a village which they called Herrnhut. Other men of widely differing views also found there a place of religious freedom, but their differences threatened to make it a place of strife. Zinzendorf gave up his position in state service to devote himself to uniting these various elements into real Christian fellowship. He became their spiritual leader, as well as their patron and protector against interference from without. [See the Brotherly Agreement which was drawn up to promote the peace of the community]

By his examples and pastoral care Zinzendorf quickened their Christian fellowship and united them for communal life under the Statutes of Herrnhut (May 12, 1727) which were founded to follow the pattern of the old Unitas Fratrum. Through earnest and continued prayer they realized more and more the power of the Cross of Christ in reconciling them one to another. A profound and decisive experience of this unity was given them in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at a celebration of the Holy Communion on August 13, 1727.

From this experience of conscious unity came zeal and strength to share this fellowship in Christ with other branches of the Church Universal, and joy to serve wherever they found an open door.

In following out this impulse, relations were established with earnest Christians in many lands of Western Europe, in England from 1728, and in North America from 1735, while in 1732 their first mission began among the slaves of St. Thomas in the West Indies.

In order to secure official recognition for their workers, and to set a seal upon the links with the old Unitas Fratrum, they decided to continue its episcopal orders, which had been handed down through Bishop Comenius and a line of bishops in the Polish provinces of the ancient Unity. In 1735, Bishop Daniel Jablonsky consecrated David Nitschmann as the first bishop of the Renewed Church. The branches of the church thus established on the continent and in Great Britain and America continued to develop in accordance with the differing opportunities presented to them, maintaining their association and uniting especially in the work of the spread of the Gospel in other lands.

Thus, today, the Unitas Fratrum, which has asserted throughout its history that Christian fellowship recognizes no barrier of nation or race, is still an international Unity with congregations in many parts of the world.

The Unitas Fratrum cherishes its unity as a valuable treasure entrusted to it by the Lord. It stands for the oneness of all humankind given by the reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Therefore, the ecumenical movement is of its very lifeblood. For five centuries, it has pointed towards the unity of the scattered children of God that they may become one in their Lord.

THE MORAVIAN CHURCH IN THE EASTERN WEST INDIES

From its first mission in St. Thomas in 1732, the Moravian Church spread into many other islands of the Caribbean. The Church came to St. Croix, Virgin Islands, in 1734. From these initial efforts in the Virgin Islands, in St. John, Virgin Islands, in 1741, the Moravian Church spread out to Antigua in 1756; to Barbados in 1765; to St. Kitts in 1777; to Tobago in 1790. The close of the eighteenth century found the Moravians firmly established in all these islands. In the nineteenth century, work was started in British Guiana (Now Guyana) in 1878 but subsequently became a separate province. Also in the nineteenth century, work was started in Trinidad in 1890. In 1907, work was started in Santo Domingo and the congregations there merged with the Dominican Evangelical Church. (Methodist, Presbyterian, United Brethren) in 1960. In 1994, Moravian work in Tortola was officially recognized as a part of the province.

The impetus for the expansion of the Moravian Church in the Caribbean was a burning desire to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all oppressed peoples. Genuine Christian concern motivated these missions.

In addition to preaching the gospel, the Moravian Church was active in providing an education for the slaves. It was one of the first organized religious bodies to establish primary and secondary schools for slaves in the West Indies.

The Eastern West Indies Province of the Moravian Church can be justly proud of its contributions to the religious, social and cultural heritage in the many islands of the Caribbean where it is located today.