Evangelische Brüdergemeine in Gnadau - Gnadau's Protestant Moravian Church
Gnadau is the youngest of the villages in the area where the River Saale empties into the River Elbe. Its first house began to be built on 17 June 1767. On exactly the same day 45 years earlier - in 1722 - the first tree were cut for the new village Herrnhut near Zittau in Upper Lusatia in the Electorate of Saxony. Herrnhut was to be built on ground that Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) had provided to Moravian refugees whose grandparents were members of the old Moravian Church. A few years later, Count von Zinzendorf was expelled from Saxony and went to Barby. The town of Barby was home to a congregation, a church seminary and the board of the renewed Moravian Church from 1747-1807.
Gnadau was built on the road from Barby to the town of Schönebeck, not far from the small old villages of Döben and Zeitz. Its rather geometrical design is based on square elements: Its central village green ("Zinzendorfplatz") with its many trees, hedges, lawns and footpaths is surrounded by houses for Moravian Church brothers ("Brüderhaus"), Moravian Church sisters ("Schwesternhaus"), families, etc., a church ("Gemeinsaal") and a number of small factories and shops. The village boundaries are marked by an avenue of approx 1000 ft on each side.
The church building ("Gemeinsaal") with its ridge turret was built in 1780-81. Its large bright windows, white walls and woodwork, green liturgist's table, organ, balconies, lofts and boxes are all very typical of the interior of a Moravian church in the baroque style.
"Unitätsbuchhandlung", a combined printing and publishing house, for many years produced the annual Daily Watchwords ("Herrnhuter Losungen"), a booklet containing short Bible texts and hymn verses for every day in a year.
Christian social work for girls at "Gnadauer Anstalten" began on 1 August 1814, for boys following a few years later.
Over the centuries Gnadau had a school of domestic science; an "Oberlyzeum" (upper secondary school for girls emphasising modern languages); a teachers' college; a secondary school; a boarding school; a school providing preliminary training in Christian social service work; a catechists' seminary; a school training Christian social service workers for children; a home for the aged; a kindergarten; and a college run by the Protestant Churches of the Prussian Union offering in-service training for graduates in theology. As a result, Gnadau become pretty well-known.
For a long time, Gnadau's bakeries made "Gnadauer Brezeln" Gnadau pretzels, a spicy kind of pastry, which became very famous.
In May 1888 Christians came here from all over Germany to hold the first Gnadau Pentecostal Conference, which was to give rise to an association of Christian communities called "Gnadauer Verband" ("Gnadau Union"). In spite of its name, the Union does not now have a headquarters, an office or a congregation in Gnadau.
Today, Gnadau has a home for the aged accommodating 65 people, and a kindergarten for 2 to 14 years olds. The kindergarten is in a new ecological low-energie building of brick and wood. There are a children's playground and a park nearby.
Gnadau lies on Germany's second oldest railway line, which runs from Magdeburg to Halle and Leipzig. The new A14 motorway is no more than a 15-minutes' drive away.
Gnadau has now almost 500 inhabitants, 80 of them members of the Moravian Church. The local Moravian Church minister is additionally in charge of both the 150 Moravian Church members in the rest of the German regional state of Saxony-Anhalt and the 140 Lutheran Christians living in Gnadau itself.
Gnadau's Moravian Church has always maintained many and varied links with other congregations of the world-wide Moravian Church in Africa, America, Asia and Europe, and also with Christians who are not members of the Moravian Church.
We have a congregation shop called "Gnadauer Laden". The shop sells ecological and fair-trade products from abroad as well as Moravian stars ("Herrnhuter Stern").
Several members of Gnadau's Moravian Church are now busy setting up a new primary school to be called "Zinzendorfschule", which opened in 2002.
Visit our village and congregation, staying at the local "Herberge" - village inn.