The North Carolinian quickly advised us that we should not miss Salem when he found out we were staying over an extra day after our meeting. There was a bit of pride in his voice when he said it was like Williamsburg except instead of a reconstruction, this was a restoration of a real community. We took his advice and had a great day exploring this Moravian village and learning its history. It did, indeed, stack up nicely against Williamsburg.
My favorite spot was the Home Moravian Church. A gentleman greeted us at the door and told us to hurry on in where his wife was giving a lecture on the church’s history. She would tell us later that she and her husband took turns giving the talk and being the greeter. I can’t imagine that he would be any more interesting than she was. Her recurring theme was that Moravians never throw anything away even if it might never be used again. Illustrating her point, she told of the original chandelier that held candles and was relegated to the basement when they installed electricity. Years later in a renovation, someone decided the old chandeliers could be brought up and fitted for light bulbs. They added enough new chandeliers made to match the old to complete the number they needed for the new building. We looked up and saw the old and new chandeliers but could not tell which were which.
She also told us the beautiful organ pipes in front of us were not hooked up. She said when the first organ pipes were put in, they looked pretty but sounded terrible. Not wanting to throw good-looking pipes away, they put better-sounding pipes in the space behind them. Wasting nothing, they have a beautiful view from the ones up front and a beautiful sound from the pipes behind.
About the time she began telling about the building of the church in 1800, I spotted their visitor’s card in the pew in front of me. It read “Please have a minister contact me,” and had spaces for name, phone, and email. The irony of a 200 + year-old church asking for a phone number and an email address tickled my funny bone and triggered a recall of Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Maybe He is the only thing that does not change.
I looked up their website when I got home [www.homemoravian.org] and found some of the same irony there. Their doctrine includes the Apostles’ Creed [developed between the second and ninth centuries of the Christian Era] and the Nicene Creed [from the fourth century] even as they move to an email newsletter and live-streaming of their services on the Internet. The church even offers the opportunity of “liking” it on Facebook.
I think we could learn something from the Moravians who enthusiastically recall their past while taking advantage of what the modern world has to offer.