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Exhibition: “Zinzendorf in America”

October 1 - October 31

In 1741 a German count arrived in Philadelphia. During the following fourteen months Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, founder and leader of the Moravian Church (Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine), visited German and English colonists throughout the Northeast, preached wherever he had an opportunity, traveled among the American Indians, and organized Moravian churches in places such as Bethlehem, Philadelphia, Nazareth, and New York. Zinzendorf’s daughter Benigna founded one of the earliest schools for girls in the country. When Zinzendorf and his travel company sailed back to England In January of 1743 his followers continued the work. The Moravians have left an unmistaken mark on the culture of early America.

Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was born in 1700 in Dresden, Germany, where his father served in the government of the Elector of Saxony. In 1722 Zinzendorf gave refuge to a group of Protestants from Moravia who founded the town of Herrnhut on his estate. Under Zinzendorf’s leadership, Herrnhut became the center of a worldwide church, the Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine or Moravian Church, that continues to exist. Today the Moravian Church has over 1,1 million members in forty countries worldwide. The Moravian Church in North America with 160 congregations traces its origins to this visit by a German count in 1741.

Zinzendorf hoped to eventually return to Pennsylvania and live in Nazareth where a large residence was built for him. However, he never came back. Zinzendorf died in Herrnhut, Germany, on May 9, 1760, less than three weeks before his 60th birthday.

This exhibit in the gallery of the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, shows the traces left by Zinzendorf in America: objects that remind us of his visit to Pennsylvania, items passed down within his family, and artifacts acquired by the Moravian Archives in recent years. Some of the artifacts in this exhibit will be shown to the public for the first time.

The exhibit is open free of charge, starting October 2020 at the Moravian Archives, 41 W. Locust Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018; 610.866.3255; www.moravianchurcharchives.org.

Because of Covid-related precautions visitors are asked to call ahead to reserve a time slot for their visit.


October 1
October 31
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