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(MORAVIAN BRETHREN, or UNITAS FRATRUM).
DEFINITION AND DOCTRINAL POSITION
"Bohemian Brethren" and "Moravian Brethren" are the current popular designation of the Unitas Fratrum founded in Bohemia in 1457, renewed by Count Zinzendorf in 1722, and still active in our own day. Placing life before creeds, the Moravian Church seeks "to exemplify the living Church of Christ constituted or regenerated men and women, while it affords a common meeting-point for Christians who apprehend dogmas variously". Personal faith in the crucified Saviour constitutes the chief foundation for the fellowship thus established. Scripture is the only rule of faith, but "nothing is posited as to the mode of inspiration, for this partakes of the mysteries which it has not pleased God to reveal". The Trinity, the Fall, Original Sin, and "Total Depravity" are admitted, but "discussion about them is shunned". The Love of God manifested in Christ — without theories about the mode — is the centre of Moravian belief and practice. Justification by faith alone and the necessity of regeneration "are posited as facts of personal experience". Sanctifying grace, the need of prayer, and other public means of grace, a complete ritual, a strict discipline, "the orders of the ministry with no conception of the functions of the episcopate", i.e. bishops ordain, but the episcopal office implies no further ruling or administrative power (see infra in regard to Zinzendorf), Baptism and the Lord's Supper as the only sacraments, and the common Christian eschatology : Resurrection, Judgment, Heaven, Hell ; such are the tenets from which Moravians are expected not to depart, whilst they are allowed to speculate about them on Scriptural lines with entire liberty.
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HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT UNITAS FRATRUM (1457-1722)
The Bohemian Brethren are a link in a chain of sects beginning with Wyclif (1324-84) and coming down to the present day. The ideas of the Englishman found favour with Hus, and Bohemia proved a better soil for their growth than England. Both Wyclif and Hus were moved by a sincere desire to reform the Church of their times; both failed and, without intending it, became the fathers of new heretical bodies — the Lollards and the Hussites. The former were persecuted out of existence in England by Catholic rulers; the latter prospered in Bohemia, thanks to royal and national support. The burning of John Hus at the stake for his stubborn adherence to the condemed doctrines of Wyclif (at Constance, 6 July, 1415) was considered an insult to the faith of the Bohemian nation, which, since its first conversion to Christianity, had never swerved from the truth. The University of Prague came boldly forward to vindicate the man and his doctrines; the party which hitherto had worked at reforming the Church from within now rejected the Church's authority and became the Hussite sect. Divisions at once arose amongst its members. Some completely set aside the authority of the Church and admitted no other rule than the Bible ; others only demanded Communion under both kinds for the laity and free preaching of the Gospel, with some minor reforms. The former, who met for worship at "Mount Tabor", were called Taborites; the latter received the name of Calixtines, i.e., the party of the Chalice. As long as they had a common enemy to fight they fought together under the leadership of that extraordinary man, John Trocznowski, known as Zizka (the one-eyed), and for fully fifteen years proved more than a match for the imperial armies and papal crusaders sent to crush them. Peace was at length obtained, not by force of arms, but by skilful negotiations which resulted in the "Compactata of Basle" (30 November, 1433). The compact was chiefly due to the concessions made by the Calixtine party; it found little or no favour with the Taborites. The discontent led to a feud which terminated at the Battle of Lippau (30 May, 1434) with the death of Procopius, the Taborite leader, and the almost total extinction of this party. The small remnant, too insignificant to play a role in politics, withdrew into private life, devoting all their energies to religion. In 1457 one section formed itself into a separate body under the name of the "Brethren's Union" ( Unitas Fratrum ), which is now generally spoken of as the Bohemian Brethren. Their contemporaries coined for them several opprobrious designations, such as Jamnici (cave-dwellers) and Pivnicnici (beerhouse men), Bunzlau Brethren, Picards (corrupted to Pickarts), etc.
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The originator of the new sect was a certain Gregory, a nephew of the leading Calixtine preacher, Rokyzana, whose mind was imbued with the conviction that the Roman Church was helplessly and hopelessly corrupt. Gregory therefore decided to found a new Church in accordance with his uncle's and his own ideas of what a perfect Church should be. Through Rokyzana's influence he obtained leave from the governor George von Podiebrad to organize a community in the village of Kunwald near Senftenberg. Michel, the parish priest of Senftenberg, and Matthias, a farmer of Kunwald, joined Gregory, and soon the community counted several thousand members. Their distinguishing tenets at this early period were rather vague: abolition of all distinctions of rank and fortune, the name of Christian being the one all-sufficient dignity; abolition of oaths, of military service, etc. Governor von Podiebrad kept a vigilant eye on the growing community. In 1461 he had Gregory and several other persons arrested on suspicion of reviving the heresies of the Taborites. The accused admitted that they did not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, but had partaken of the bread and wine at their nocturnal meetings as common food. They were set free, but, to avoid further interference, Gregory and his companions fled into the Lordship of Reichenau, where they lived hidden in the mountains. There, in 1464, was held a secret assembly consisting of Brethren from Bohemia and Moravia, who accepted as basis of their creed the doctrine that justification is obtained through faith and charity and confers the hope of eternal salvation. The rich were requested to abandon their wealth and worldly pomp and to live in voluntary poverty. The Brethren were to give up private property for the benefit of the Brotherhood. Anyone not observing the brotherhood of faith and practice was to be separated from the community.
Meanwhile the persecution continued. The Utraquist (Calixtine) priests refused the Sacrament to the Brethren. These, therefore, were forced to constitute a priesthood of their own belief. A bishop and a number of priests were chosen by lot, and the separation from the Utraquists became an accomplished fact. The head of the Austrian Waldenses, who was believed to have received consecration from a real bishop, gave episcopal orders to the ex- parish priest, Michael, and Michael consecrated his friend, Matthias, bishop and ordained several priests. The new Bishop Matthias of Kunwald then reordained his consecrator, to make him a true priest of the Brotherhood. This happened in 1467 at the synod of Lhotka, near Reichenau, where also all those present were rebaptized. The breach with both Catholics and Utraquists was now completed, and the Brethren began to order their community on the model of "the primitive Church ". The governing power centred in a council presided over by a judge. Four seniors, or elders, held the episcopal power. The priests had no property and were encouraged to celibacy. The strictest morality and modesty were exacted from the faithful. All acts subservient to luxury were forbidden; oaths and military service were only permitted in very exceptional cases. Public sins had to be publicly confessed, and were punished with ecclesiastical penalties or expulsion. A committee of women watched with relentless severity over the behaviour of their sisters.
A new persecution quickly followed on the synod of Lhotka. The Brethren defended their cause in copious writings, but in 1468 many of them were imprisoned and tortured, one was burnt at the stake. The death of the governor George von Podiebrad in 1471 brought some relief. Brother Gregory died in 1473. From 1480 Lucas of Prague was the leading man. Thanks to him, and to toleration granted the Brethren by King Ladislaus II, the Brotherhood rapidly increased in numbers. By the end of the fifteenth century there were 400 communities. Pope Alexander VI's endeavour to reconvert the Brethren (in 1499) proved futile. About this time an internal feud in the "Unity of Brethren" led to a renewal of persecution. The Amosites, so called from their leader, Brother Amos, accused their more moderate Brethren of fomenting violent opposition to the Government in imitation of their spiritual ancestors, the Taborites. King Ladislaus II thereupon issued a decree prohibiting the meetings of the Brethren under heavy penalties. In many places, however, the decree was left unheeded, and powerful landowners continued to protect the Brotherhood. Once more the king resorted to milder measures. In 1507 he invited the chiefs of the Brethren to meet the Utraquists in conference at Prague. The Brethren sent a few rude, unlettered fellows unable to give answer to the questions of the professors. The king regarded this as an insult and ordered all the meetings of the "Pickarts" to be suppressed, all their books to be burnt, and the recalcitrants to be imprisoned (1508).
The Brethren now began to look for foreign sympathy. Erasmus complimented them on their knowledge of truth, but refused to commit himself further. Luther objected to their doctrine on the Eucharist, to the celibacy of their clergy, to the practice of rebaptizing, and to the belief in seven sacraments. Brother Lucas answered in a sharp pamphlet and, having ascertained the low standard of church discipline among the Lutherans of Wittenberg, ceased all attempts at union. At the same time (1525) Lucas rejected the Zwinglian doctrines which some Brethren were trying to introduce. After the death of Lucas (1528) the government of the Brotherhood passed into the hands of men fond of innovations, among whom John Augusta is the most remarkable. Augusta reopened negotiations with Luther and so modified his creed that it gained the Reformer's approbation, but the union of the two sects was again prevented by the less rigid morals of the Lutherans in Bohemia and Moravia. Augusta pleaded for stricter church discipline, but Luther dismissed him, saying: "Be you the apostle of the Bohemians, I will be the apostle of the Germans. Do as circumstances direct, we will do the same here" (1542). Soon afterwards the Bohemian Estates were requested to join Charles V in his war against the Smalkaldic league. Catholics and old Utraquists obeyed, but the Bohemian Protestants, having met in the house of Brother Kostka, established a kind of provisional government composed of eight members, four of whom belonged to the Brotherhood, and appointed a general to lead the armed rebels into Saxony against the emperor. Charles's victory over the Smalkaldians at Muhlberg (1547) left the rebels no choice but to submit to their king, Ferdinand I. The Brethren, who had been the chief instigators of the rebellion, were now doomed to extinction. John Augusta and his associate, Jacob Bilek, were cast into prison ; the Brethren's meetings were interdicted throughout the whole kingdom; those who refused to submit were exiled. Many took refuge in Poland and Prussia (1578); those who remained in the country joined, at least pro forma , the Utraquist party. Owing to Maximilian II's leniency and Protestant propensities, the Bohemian diet of 1575 could draw up the "Bohemian Confession of Faith " in which the principles of the Brethren find expression along with those of the Lutherans. Under Rudolph II (1584) persecution was again resorted to, and lasted with more or less intensity down to 1609, when Rudolph's Charter granted the free exercise of their religion to all Protestants. No sooner, however, did external oppression relent than internal dissension broke out in the Protestant ranks. The Consistory, composed of Lutherans and Brethren, was unable to maintain peace and union between the two parties. Ferdinand II , after his victory over the rebellious Bohemians at the white Mountain near Prague (1620), offered them the choice between Catholicism and exile. Many Brethren emigrated to Hungary, but a greater number to northern Poland, where they settled in Lissa (now in Prussian Posen). Even to this day there are in that district seven communities calling themselves Brethren, although their confession of faith is the Helvetic. In Prussian Silesia there are also three communities of Brethren claiming descent from the Bohemian Brotherhood.
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THE BOHEMIAN BRETHREN AND ENGLAND
During the reign of Maximillian II and Rudolph II the Bohemian Brethren enjoyed a period of prosperity which allowed them to establish relations with younger Protestant churches. They sent students to Heidelberg and one at least to Oxford. In 1583 "Bernardus, John, a Moravian ", was allowed to supply B.D. He had studied theology for ten years in German universities and was now going to the universities of Scotland. This Bernardus, however, has left no trace but the entry in the Register of Oxford just quoted. The man who brought the Brotherhood prominently before the Anglican Church was Johann Amos, of Comna, generally known as Comenius. As a scholar and educationist he was invited by his English friends to assist in improving the state and administration of the universities, then under consideration in Parliament. The outbreak of the Civil War brought all these plans to naught, and Comenius returned to Germany in 1642. His influence in England allowed him to set on foot several collections for his severely persecuted church in Poland : the first three were failures, but the fourth, authorized by Cromwell, produced £5,900, of which sum Cambridge University contributed £56. This was in 1658-59. Intercourse with the Anglican Church was kept up uninterruptedly until the remnants of the ancient Brotherhood had dwindled away and been swallowed up by other Evangelical confessions. When the renewed Brotherhood was established in England it benefited by the memory of former friendly relations.
HISTORY OF THE RENEWED BROTHERHOOD
Persecution from without and dissension within wellnigh brought about the total extinction of the Bohemian Brethren. The small but faithful remnant was, however, destined to blossom into a new and vigorous religious body under the name of Moravian Brethren. The founder and moulder of this second Unitas Fratrum was the pious and practical Count Zinzendorf (b. 1700, d. 1760). In 1722 the Lutheran Pastor Rothe, of Berthelsdorf in Upper Lusatia, introduced to the Count, from whom he held his living, a Moravian carpenter named Christian David. This man had been deputed by his co-religionists to look out for a concession of land where they could freely practise their religion. Zinzendorf was so far unacquainted with the history and the tenets of the Bohemian Brethren, but in his charity, he granted them the desired land, on the slopes of the Hutberg in the parish of Bertlesdorf. In a short time emigrants from Moravia founded there a colony, call Herrnhut. The colonists worshiped at the Lutheran parish church. Two years later, there arrived from Zauchenthal in Moravia five young men fully conscious of being true members of the old "Bohemian Brotherhood". At once religious quarrels arose, to the annoyance of Count Zinzendorf and his friends. The count was not slow in perceiving that the colonists, all simple labourers and craftsmen, were more concerned with church discipline and Christian rules of life than with dogma. Accordingly he set about elaborating a constitution for a community of which religion should be the chief concern and bond of union. He left Dresden and, with the pastor's leave, began to work as a lay catechist among the Brethren at Herrnhut. The community met for their religious services in their own hall where one of the Brethren, either chosen by lot or elected by the assembly, acted as minister. In 1731 they seceded from the parish church and added to their usual services the celebration of the Lord's Supper. They were divided in "choirs" according to age, sex, and calling; each choir was ruled by elders (male and female ), pastors, and administrators chosen among its members. The female choirs were distinguished by their dresses. Widows, unmarried young men, and young women formed separate choirs under the supervision of elders. Everything at Herrnhut was controlled by the College of Elders, even matrimony, subject to the sanction of the lot. Provision was made for the poor and the sick, for prayer meetings and so forth. Deacons, acting for the Elders, administered the property accruing to the community from donations. Great care was given to the education of the young, Zinzendorf being anxious to raise a generation that would perpetuate his work. The organization of the renewed Brotherhood was complete in 1731. It bore the stamp of the personality of its founder, a man deeply religious, nurtured in Spencer's Pietism by the two noble ladies who brought him up, and well acquainted with Catholic life from his sojourn in Paris. As soon as the foundations were solidly laid at Herrnhut, Zinzendorf began to think of missionary work. His personal connection with the Danish Court led him to choose the Danish possessions in the West Indies and in Greenland for the field of his labours. His first missionaries were sent out in 1732 and 1733. Feeling, however that as a simple layman he could not well confer missionary powers, he took orders at Tübingen in 1734 and, moreover, received episcopal consecration from the Reformed court-preacher Jablonsky of Berlin, in whose family the Moravian episcopacy, originated in 1467 by a validly ordained Waldensian bishop, had been — or was said to have been — preserved. Persecution was not long in coming. The orthodox Lutherans became the Brethren's bitterest enemies. The Imperial Government in Vienna strongly objected to their propaganda in Bohemia, which caused Austrian subjects to emigrate and sowed discontent in the country. Under imperial pressure the King of Saxony banished Zinzendorf "for ever". The zealous count put his exile to good use. During the ten years (1737-47) of his absence from Saxony he founded congregations in Holland, England, Ireland, America; new ones also arose in Germany at Herrenhag, Neuwied, Gnadenfrei, Gnadenberg, and Neusatz. Zinzendorf showed a special predilection for the London establishment. In 1750 he fixed his residence in the English capital and from there ruled the whole "Unity of Brethren". But in 1755 he returned to Herrnhut, which now became and remained the centre of the whole administration. To the present day the "Provincial Board of Elders for Germany " occupies Zinzendorf's own house at Berthelsdorf. The finishing touch of the new church system is the liberty enjoyed by those who join it to retain the Lutheran, the Reformed, or the Moravian Confession to which they belonged, and to be placed under the rule of Elders of the same belief. This peculiar feature shows the founder's disregard for dogma and the great value he attached to Christian practice and ecclesiastical discipline. He held that faith and justification could only be found by individuals who were, or became, members of a religious community. However much, in this and in other points, he copied the Catholic Church, yet he was to the end a faithful adherent of the Augsburg Confession and obtained from the Consistory in Dresden an official acknowledgment that the Moravian Brethren were followers of the same faith. He also succeeded after a long struggle in securing for the Brotherhood recognition by the Saxon government. When, regretted by all, he died in 1760, his work and his spirit lived on in the strongly organized body of the "Unity of Brethren". No material changes have taken place since. In 1775 the Brethren, assembled in a synod at Barby, adopted the following statement of principles:
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Faith in the Redemption and entire surrender of self to Christ (with Whom in 1741 a spiritual covenant was made) are held to be the very essence of religion. The will of Christ was ascertained by casting of lots as the final sanction in case of marriage (until 1820), in the election of superiors (until 1889), etc. Zinzendorf ruled as bishop over all the communities, both in Europe and America, but since his death the episcopal office has remained a mere title. In 1857 the British and American Unity became independent; the only bond of union being now the General Synod held once every ten years.
THE MORAVIANS IN ENGLAND
The beginnings of the Brethren's Church in England are an interesting chapter in the commerce of thought between Germany and that country. The German dynasty on the English throne had attracted a strong colony of their countrymen; towards the middle of the eighteenth century London alone numbered from 4000 to 5000 Germans among its inhabitants. These would naturally be in sympathy with the Brethren. But the "Religious Societies " founded by Doctor Smithies, curate of St. Giles, and Dr. Horneck, of the Lower Palatinate, together with the writings of William Law-the father of the religious revival of the eighteenth century-had prepared the minds of many Englishmen for stronger spiritual food than that offered by the established religion. Horneck was a German Pietist, and William Law, in his "Serious Call", sets up a standard of perfection little short of Catholic monasticism. John Wesley, who confesses that he was stimulated into activity by William Law, at first sought satisfaction of his spiritual cravings in the Moravian Brotherhod. He, with three other Oxford Methodists, met the Moravian Bishop Nitschmann and twenty Brethren at Gravesend, where they were waiting for the vessel that was to carry them all to Georgia (1736). The Englishmen were favourably impressed with the religious fervour of the Germans, and a fruitful friendship sprang up between them. As early as 1728 Zinzendorf had sent to England a deputation headed by the Moravian Johann Toltschig "to tell such as were not blinded by their lusts, but whose eyes God had opened, what God had wrought". Countess Sophia von Schaumburg-Lippe, Lady-in-Waiting at the English Court, used her influence in their behalf, but was unable to counteract the opposition of the Lutheran court-chaplain Ziegenhagen. The embassy had little or no result. Other visits followed at intervals, most of them by missionaries and emigrants on their way to America. On the occasion of such a visit Zinzendorf himself induced some young people to form a society for the reading of the Bible , mutual edification, abstention from theological controversy, brotherly love, etc. It was the first step towards realizing his ideals in England. The next step was Peter Boehler's zealous preaching to the "religious societies " and the working classes.
It was Boehler who founded the religious society in Fetter Lane of which John Wesley became a member, and for which he framed most of the rules; it seems also due to the influence of Boehler that John and Charles Wesley "found conversion " (June, 1738), yet not a conversion exactly of the Moravian type. A visit of John Wesley to the German centres made it clear that the Brotherhood had no room for two men like Zinzendorf and Wesley, both being born leaders of men, but having little else in common. Little by little Wesley became estranged from the Brethren, and his former friendship turned to open hostility (12 November, 1741), according to Wesley's journal). At a meeting in Fetter Lane Wesley accused the Brethren of holding false doctrines and left the hall exclaiming: "Let those who agree with me follow me." Some eighteen or nineteen of the members went out after him, the rest called upon the Brethren to be their leaders. Thus a religious society of the Church of England became a society of the Brethren. After their rupture with Wesley the Brethren began to work on their own account in England. Professor Spangenberg organized the young church with rare talent, and its activity spread far and wide in the provinces, even to Scotland and Ireland, but their success was greatest in Yorkshire. They also came in for some persecution from people who still confused them with the Methodists. The legal status of the Brotherhood was now to be determined. They did not wish to be classed as Dissenters, which would at once have severed them from the Anglican Church, and, on the other hand, the Anglican Church , disowned them because they neither had Anglican orders nor did they use the Boo of Common Prayer. Archbishop Potter would grant them no more than the toleration accorded to foreign Protestants. To obtain a license from a Justice of the Peace they had to adopt a name, and Spangenberg decided on "Moravian Brethren, formerly of the Anglican Communion". This name implied a new denomination and led to the immediate formation of the first congregation of Brethren of English nationality (1742). Zinzendorf greatly objected to the name of Moravians being given to his Brethren whom he considered as an ecclesiola in ecclesiâ , a select small church within a greater one, which might exist in almost any denomination. The proposed designation, "Old Lutheran Protestants ", was distasteful to English members. They resolutely clung to the names "United Brethren" and "Moravians" as their official and popular designations, and the "Bill for encouraging the people known by the name of Unitas Fratrum or United Brethren to settle in His Majesty's colonies", passed in 1749, gives official sanction to the old name, recognizes that the Brethren belonged to an "ancient protestant and episcopal Church ", and maintains their connection with Germany.
BEGINNINGS OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
In 1734 Zinzendorf obtained for thirty families of banished Schwenkfelders (adherents of Kaspar von Schwenkfeld) a home in Georgia which had just been carved out of the Carolina grant "to serve as an asylum for insolvent debtors and for persons fleeing from religious persecution ". These exiles, however, found it preferable to join an older colony in Pennsylvania. The Brethren now conceived the plan of securing for themselves in Georgia a home of refuge in time of persecution. The governor general, Oglethorpe, granted them 500 acres, and Spangenberg, the negotiator, received a present of 50 acres for himself, a part of the site on which the city of Savannah now stands. The first eleven immigrants reached Savannah 17 April, 1734, led by Spangenberg. Bishop Nitschmann brought over another twenty, 7 February, 1736. The work of evangelizing and colonizing was at once vigorously taken in hand and carried on with more courage than success. The climate, wars, enmities from within and without, checked the growth and cramped the organization of the Brotherhood.
PRESENT CONDITION OF THE MORAVIAN BODY
The outcome of their faithful struggles during 175 years is shown in the subjoined statistics, and may be read in detail in the "Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society," Vol. VI:
Statistics for America (from "The Moravian," 13 March, 1907).— On the 1st of January, 1907, there were in the five northern districts of America 96 congregations with 13,859 communicants, 1,194 noncommunicants, and 5,316 children; a total membership of 20,369; an increase of 228 over the previous year. In Sunday schools there were 9,666 pupils under 1,156 officers and teachers, a total membership of 10,822, against 11,012 in the preceding year, implying a loss of 187. Receipts from all sources: 31 December, 1906, $145,517.67; a decrease of $8,006.19 on 1905. Expenses exactly balance receipts. In the Southern Province of America there were on the 1st of January, 1907, 3,703 communicants, 320 non-communicants, 1,819 children; total, 5,842. Sunday schools contained 3,883 pupils, 323 officers and teachers; total, 4,206.- Total membership in both provinces: 26,211 against 25,877 in 1906- an increase of 334.
In Great Britain and Ireland , the Moravian Church numbered on the 31st of December, 1906, 41 congregations, with a total membership of 6,343; an increase of 211 on 1905; 5,072 pupils attended Sunday schools, with 568 teachers; there were also 213 pupils, with 5 teachers, in 5 day schools, and 305 scholars, with 38 teachers, in 5 boarding schools.
The German Province , 31 December, 1905, had 25 congregations, with a total membership of 7,958, of whom 5,795 were communicants; 50 missionary centres ministered to about 70,000 (the "Diaspora").
The Mission Fields of the Moravians : In North America, Labrador, begun 1771; Alaska, 1885; California, 1890.-In Central America, Mosquito Coast, 1849.-In South America, Surinam, 1735, Demerara, 1878.-In the West Indies, Jamaica, 1754; St. Thomas, 1732, St. Jan, 1754; St. Croix, 1740; Antigua, 1756; St. Kitts, 1777; Barbadoes, 1765; Tobago, 1790; Trinidad, 1890.-In Africa, Cape Colony, East and West, 1736; German East Africa, 1891.-In Asia, West Himalaya, 1853; Jerusalem, Leper House, 1867.-In Australia, Victoria, 1849; North Queensland, 1891. The work is carried on by 470 missionaries of whom 76 are natives. Bohemia and Moravia are also counted among the mission fields. The mission work there, like that of the foreign missions, is a joint undertaking of all the Provinces of the Church. In December, 1905, the total membership was 984; income (of which £111 was from the British Province), £1761, 16/4; outlay, £1,991, 10/9.