The Moravians are Protestants who trace their origins to ancient Bohemia, in the present-day Czech Republic. The denomination was founded in the fifteenth century. Today, only one Moravian congregation exists in Georgia.
Consequently, Moravian activities in Georgia were closely watched, debated, and written about in Europe. While the community did not last long and was never very large (at most, forty-one immigrants and converts, including twelve preachers and missionaries), it marked the beginnings of the group's very successful settlement in North America and became an important part of the ongoing transatlantic evangelical revival then occurring in Europe and British North America, where it is usually referred to as the Great Awakening. Many of the German-language letters, diaries, and reports of Moravians and their allies and enemies in the colony were published, and others are still preserved in European and American archives, offering historians important materials for studying life in early Georgia.
After these disappointments the Georgia Moravians began to concentrate on converting Native Americans and also slaves across the river in Purysburgh, South Carolina. The war with Spain that began in 1739, however, undermined the former mission, while disease, lack of interest among the slaves,
The ultimate cause for the dissolution of the pacifist Moravian colony was not the pressure to bear arms in the war against Spain, as some have suggested, but rather a crisis within the Moravian community. The group, which lived in communal quarters in Savannah and maintained no individual, private property, was plagued by quarreling, lack of cooperation, and other internal problems. These tensions drove many individuals and married couples away from Georgia; they either returned to Europe or scattered in Pennsylvania, never to rejoin the group. Others went to Pennsylvania and helped build what became the very successful communal settlements at Bethlehem and Nazareth. The communal ideal seemed to work better for Moravians and other German pietist groups when they moved into the backcountry and separated themselves from other colonists.
Moravian settlement and activities in Georgia after 1745 were limited but not insignificant. One of their bishops, Johann Ettwein, returned to Savannah in 1765 to check on the property the colony had left behind and found it in a dilapidated condition. Three missionaries arrived in 1774 and 1775 to preach to slaves and to recover some of the Savannah property, but their efforts were disrupted by old enemies, disease, and the Revolutionary War (1776-83), and the mission ended in 1779.
A single Moravian congregation exists today in Georgia, at Stone Mountain.
Aaron Spencer Fogleman, "Shadow Boxing in Georgia: The Beginnings of the Moravian-Lutheran Conflict in British North America," Georgia Historical Quarterly 83 (winter 1999): 629-59.
Adelaide L. Fries, The Moravians in Georgia, 1735-1740 (Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards and Broughton, 1905; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1967).
George Fenwick Jones and Paul Martin Peucker, eds. and trans., "'We Have Come to Georgia with Pure Intentions': Moravian Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg's Letters from Savannah, 1735," Georgia Historical Quarterly 82 (spring 1998): 84-120.
James Nelson, "John Wesley and the Georgia Moravians," Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society 23 (1984): 17-46.
Edmund Schwarze, History of the Moravian Missions among Southern Indian Tribes (Bethlehem, Pa.: Times Publishing, 1923).
David S. Williams, From Mounds to Megachurches: Georgia's Religious Heritage (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008).
Aaron Spencer Fogleman, University of South Alabama, Mobile
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