Chapter 2 The American Plan of Zinzendorf and Spangenberg

In: Moravian Americans and their Neighbors, 1772-1822
Craig Atwood
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It is important to place the Americanization process of Moravians in North Carolina in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the context of the broader history of the Moravian mission to British North America in the mid-18th century. Two figures emerge as especially significant for understanding the ‘American Plan’ of the Moravians: Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf and August Gottlieb Spangenberg. Zinzendorf made an extensive visit to eastern Pennsylvania from late 1741 to 1743 during which time he generated a storm of controversies among both German-speaking and English-speaking settlers. He attempted to unite the German-speaking Protestants into an ecumenical fellowship, stayed for several weeks with American Indians in the village of Shamokin, preached in Lutheran and Reformed churches during the Great Awakening, and helped organize the Bethlehem congregation. Upon his return to England, Zinzendorf sent his trusted assistant, Bishop Spangenberg to take charge of the work in North America. Spangenberg organized Bethlehem as a religious commune without single family homes, directed the American Indian mission, and supervised the early Moravian settlement in North Carolina. This paper will explore the radical religious and social program of Zinzendorf and Spangenberg as an expression of their millennial hopes for the New World.

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