Moravians Apologize for Slavery

The Moravian Church was founded in the fifteenth century in what is now the Czech Republic. Fleeing religious persecution, some Moravians came to America in 1735 and in 1741 founded the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Moravian College in Bethlehem was established in 1742. It is now the sixth-oldest college in the United States. At the current time, only 2 percent of the students at Moravian College are black.

At the time of the founding of the college, some of the Moravian settlers owned black slaves. While there is no evidence that slaves were used to work on the construction of the campus, it is quite possible that some did so. The black slaves in the Moravian community were permitted to worship God alongside their masters, and when they died, they were buried in the same cemeteries.

Now the Moravian Church has issued a formal apology to African Americans for its ties to slavery. Calling the era the “low point of Moravians in North America,” the Church vowed that it would now make a concerted effort to reach out to the African-American community.

Due to extensive missionary work in Africa and the West Indies, only about one tenth of all Moravians worldwide are white.