The Moravian Church British Province

in things essential, unity... in non-essentials, liberty... in all things, charity

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Church Order of the Unitas Fratrum

Binding on all Provinces of the Moravian Church

CHURCH LIFE IN THE UNITAS FRATRUM

THE FAMILY
#655. The importance of the family in the life of the Congregation cannot be overemphasized. The family is a "natural Choir" within the Congregation, and a Christian home is the "natural school" where the foundations of the Christian life are laid among young people.

#656. It is therefore a duty and a privilege among all members of the Church to uphold the highest ideals of Christian marriage and family life, and to avoid anything that would bring dishonor upon it.

#657. The Unitas Fratrum regards it as a sacred obligation to hold an ideal of Christian marriage as pure as it is given by our Lord in his teaching, viz, that Christian marriage is an indissoluble union and requires the lifelong loyalty of the man and the woman towards each other in thought and deed.

#658. It is therefore urged that the young people in our churches be instructed, not merely immediately before marriage but from years of adolescence, in the meaning and obligation of the true Christian marriage.

#659. The Unitas Fratrum, honoring the example and injunction of our Lord, acknowledges the responsibility of dealing compassionately and redemptively with human frailty and sin in every area of life, including failure in the marriage state.

#660. Therefore in every case where action is taken in regard to divorced persons, the Unitas Fratrum urges upon its pastors and congregations the need to make every effort to avoid both a rigid legalism and an irresponsible abuse in the discharge of this sacred responsibility.

SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION
#661. From the beginning, the Moravian Church has recognized the importance of education, not only for equipping the minds, but also for building the character of young people. It has therefore in the course of its development established schools and colleges wherever this lay in its power.

#662. The nature and scope of these schools has changed considerably over the years, and today they serve the needs of a community far beyond • the confines of the Moravian Church. In this respect they have a special task to fullfil and a distinctive role to play in the modem world.

#663. While aiming to maintain the highest standards possible, our schools must also foster Christian ideals. This is true in a special sense of the boarding schools which provide a home for the children entrusted to them. In its schools therefore, the Church has an opportunity to minister not only to the children who come from Moravian Congregations, but also to those from other backgrounds as well, particularly those who have not had the experience of Christian life at home.

#664. In many areas the Sunday School has become an important arm of the Church in supplementing religious instruction provided by the home, or the week-day school. The Congregations are urged to recognize the importance of this and other Christian organizations which seek to strengthen the commitment of young people to Christ.

RELATION TO THE CIVIL AUTHORITIES
#665. The Moravian Church recognizes as important the insights contained in the Bible concerning the relationship of individuals as also of the Church to the civil authorities. It is a duty and a privilege of the individual Christian to make intercession for the civil authorities and to take a full and active share in the civil life of his/her country, and as far as possible to ensure that Christian principles govern the life of the community and country.

We will, therefore, observe the orders of the civil authorities, as long as they do not require us to deny the will of God.

PEACE
#666. In obedience to the command of Christ it is the solemn obligation of the Church to work for the continuance and keeping of world peace. The Moravian Church, through its international character, is placed in a particularly favorable position to use its influence to this end. Its constant aim should be to encourage and help to establish world peace in the name of Jesus Christ who Himself is the source of true peace and reconciliation.

Resolutions of Unity Synods

Resolutions of Unity Synod are binding on all Provinces of the Moravian Church though some resolutions only relate to the relevant intersynodal period

POLICY ON SERVING OUR COMMUNITIES

Resolution 11: Measured Community Impact

Whereas many issues that face the Church throughout the world are intimately connected with the social and communal manifestations of the Gospel outside the walls of our congregations;
Whereas issues of physical and psychological hardship due to poverty, continual threat of natural disasters, gender inequality, violence, economic distress, etc. affect members of churches and the societies in which we live;
Whereas the call to social justice and service is clearly stated in scripture (Matthew 5:1-12, Matthew 25:37-40, James 2:14-17);
Whereas we know that the mandate of scripture is being understood and acted upon in many areas throughout the church in a variety of social and community ministries; and
Whereas the reports to Unity Synod from the Provinces have included information about the evangelical and clerical work of the Provinces;

It was resolved that:

a) The entire Unity seeks more ways to effectively engage their cultures and societies in tangible mission that addresses the many issues of disparity, hardship, and distress that come from the experiences of life in the community;

b) The Unity Board also engage in reporting issues that directly connect with the various social ministries of local congregations, Provinces, and Unity Undertakings in order to elevate that work which was so closely intertwined with the work of Christ in his earthly ministry to those who suffered disease, poverty, oppression, destitution, etc;

c) During the inter-synodal period Provinces be encouraged and directed to maintain and include additional measurable evidence of community impact in their reporting to Unity Synod. 

(2009)

STEWARDSHIP OF CREATION

 

Resolution 9: Our Stewardship of Creation

That the original Proposal 16 be taken back to Provinces as it stands:

  1. We believe that God
    created and continues to create the whole universe;
    sustains and nurtures creation;
    through Christ, wills to redeem the whole of creation from its bondage to decay;
    entrusts creation to our care, calling us to be stewards of it;
    calls us to be partners in God’s ongoing creative, renewing and redeeming activity;
    commands us to act justly and in righteousness not only towards our fellow human beings, but to all creation;
    requires us to care for creation so that future generations, whom God also loves, can enjoy it and benefit from it.
  2. We affirm that Christian mission includes caring for God’s earth and of all creation.
  3. We know that human activity has contributed to the degradation of the earth in its land, seas and atmosphere, and that this is contrary to the will of God. We believe that this degradation limits the attainment of the fullness of life that God wills for all creation, and is a sin for which we should seek forgiveness. We recognise that urgent response is now required in the face of the catastrophic consequences of climate change caused by this environmental damage and the disproportionate suffering this brings to the poorest in the world, including brothers and sisters within our Moravian Unity.
  4. We challenge and encourage our congregations and members to care for the earth by following sustainable practice in their lifestyles. This will include conservation and careful consideration of how we use resources in church life and at home; active involvement in community initiatives aimed at sustaining and renewing the environment; and taking action on global environmental issues

    (2009)



POLICY ON HIV/Aids (2009)

 

Resolution 10: Coordination of Provincial Efforts to address HIV/AIDS

Whereas the Unity Synod of 2002 has, through resolutions #887 and #906 (COUF) addressed issues relating to HIV/AIDS;
Whereas the global pandemic of HIV/AIDS continues to spread with over 33 million people estimated to be living with HIV: (2008 report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, UNAIDS);
Whereas despite increased global efforts to stem the spread of HIV, whole societies, especially in southern Africa, continue to be affected by HIV and AIDS, and the diseases impact on economic instability, and breakdown of family structure, with women and children being especially vulnerable to poverty and infection via rampant sexual violence;
Whereas people living with HIV/AIDS experience significant stigma that impacts all areas of their lives;
Whereas the majority of persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS struggle to acquire needed treatments, adequate testing, and sufficient resources and economic stability for their families; and
Whereas Jesus of Nazareth modelled compassion for the suffering, restoration to community for the marginalized and sharing of resources;

Therefore it was resolved that Synod mandates Provinces to increase efforts for the stemming of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

POLICY ON HIV/AIDS - 2002 and #887. AIDS – 1988

 

Whereas, previous Unity Synods have addressed the HIV/AIDS issue; and
Whereas, HIV/AIDS has become pandemic

Be it resolved: that Unity Synod reaffirms (number)876 of the 1995 COUF.
Be it further resolved: that the Unity Board, all Provinces and Agencies, as a matter of urgency, draw on all resources available/including prioritization by Unity Board, to address problems related to HIV/AIDS.

To this effect. Unity Board shall initiate and see to implementation of:

• Education and training programs including women's skills training and care-giving for persons living with HIV/AIDS;
• Encouragement of pastors to draw the attention of their congregations to HIV/AIDS issues;
• Job-creating initiatives primarily for persons living with HIV/AIDS;
• Provisions for AIDS orphans, including the provisions of housing, food, clothing and education in a loving Christian environment;
• Use of available vacant facilities as hospice homes, counseling centers, education and support services;
• Collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGO's) for HIV/AIDS information and the distribution of materials and medication related to HIV prevention and treatment, thereby prioritizing pregnant women.
. :
Unity Board shall monitor and report annually to the provinces on ongoing developments and achievements to the effect of the above.

 

#887. AIDS – 1988

Whereas AIDS has become the major plague of the last decades of the twentieth century, and
Whereas there is no known cure, and
Whereas there is great fear, much of it born of ignorance, and
Whereas it is important to face moral questions raised by the disease, and
Whereas the Church is called to be a healing community, and the people of God can be the family that embraces and sustains those who are sick with Aids-related conditions and their friends and relatives, and
Whereas AIDS is no respecter of sex, race, nationality, nor social class, therefore be it
Resolved (1) that the moral questions be addressed, and be it further
Resolved (2) that this Unity Synod recommends to the Provinces a program of pastoral care, education for prevention, and a social ministry along lines suggested by the World Council of Churches Hearing on Aids at Geneva, January, 1987, and be it
Further Resolved (3) that the Unity Board or President of the Unity Board procure material from the World Council of Churches and/or other sources for distribution throughout the Unity. (1988, #841)



POLICY ON #908. HOMOSEXUALITY - 2002


In the light of the rising division on the issue of homosexuality experienced within and between the various provinces,
Be it resolved (1) that Unity Synod should speak to the issue of homosexuality as it relates to the ministry of the church; and
Whereas the unity of the church is an important operational principle when considered in the context of theological integrity; and
Whereas the church is not of one mind on the issue of homosexuality at this time, and that honest differences of opinion exist within the Unity based upon our varied understanding of the Scripture; therefore
Be it resolved (2) that the church should not make a hasty decision at this time, but urges the Provinces towards further, in-depth examination of the subject of homosexuality and the church. Until this in-depth examination is finished, the Synod places a moratorium on additional changes by the Provinces in this matter; and
Be it further resolved (3) that this issue does not rise to the doctrinal equivalent of the New Testament confession, "Jesus is Lord," but it is a biblical, theological and pastoral issue on which the church must dialogue. The Unity Board shall mandate the Standing Committee on Theology to develop discussion material that will guide the Provinces; and
Be it further resolved (4) that all official documents and reports submitted to this Synod on the issue of homosexuality shall be considered by the Standing Committee on Theology; and
Be it resolved (5) that Synod call upon all Moravians to be ministers of the grace, truth, forgiveness, mercy, and love of God to homosexuals even as we are called so to minister to all people; and
Be it resolved (6) that the church must continue to do theology in an attempt to discern the will of God.