Moravian Boneyard

" God's Acre" at Old Salem

Sort of staying with the Saturday theme, this will approach the topic from a different perspective and maybe a more positive one at that. The place is Winston-Salem,NC or rather a part of that city known as Old Salem where  an old tradition will take place on Easter Sunday, April 4. It is a tradition that goes back to 1771, predating the birth of these United States.

This tradition is the Easter Sunrise service in  a place known as God’s Acre. In German the term is Gottesacker or field of God. It is actually a  burial ground for Moravians who lived in Winston-Salem. The site is organized by choirs; all married men buried together, all married women buried together and so on.

The site is the focal point for an annual sunrise service attended by thousands every year.My wife and I have atended twice. Our first visit was as  really young married couple while the second wasas chaperones for a rambunctious but wonderful group of young people who still have a special place in our hearts. Both times the service was quite moving and seemed to fill us with a great sense of awe and reverence. In spite of the crowds there was very little noise other than the musical communication  between the groups of strategically positioned Moravian musicians.

Since the service is  a “sunrise” service, one obviously has to arise  rather early, to make a bit of a sacrifice compared to one’s normal routine. That  plus the locale plus the local history of over 200 years added to the  fact that this is one incredible event that one is  celebrating made our two trips very, very unique and worshipful.

I  had actually attended a sunrise service around 10 years earlier while still in high school. That event was also very special but presented me with a unique “gift” that I have kept to this day. At that service  I was stung by some type of insect and came oh so close to going into anaphylactic shock. Yep, that is when I developed  my allergy to bee venom, an affliction that I still have some 40+ years later.

So, if you have never had the blessing of attending   a sunrise service, I encourage you to avail yourself of that  opportunity this Easter season. And, some day, I hope you make the trek to Old Salem for this event will show  you that our Moravian friends are known for much more than their culinary talents.


March 29, 2010 - Posted by | Christianity, Life and Death | , , , , , , , , , ,

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