Czech/Moravian Brethren are returning
Mr. Neveceral and his son, descendants from emigrants, who once fled from what is now the Czech Republic fearing religious persecution after the Battle of White Mountain (1620) have recently come from the Polish settlement of Zelow which was founded by their forefathers.
To facilitate their immigration procedures, the provost of the Evangelical Church in Zelow. father Miroslav Jelínek, accommodated Jaroslav and Daniel with the reference paper certifying that they belonged to the family of the famous Czech Brethren priest Jaroslav Nevečeřal. Since 1997 the son Daniel has been a member of the Exulant civic association,seated in Switzerland, where he lived for a while cultivating contacts among the White Mountain emigrants progeniture. He went trough his doctorial studies (1998 - 2002) at the Evangelical Theology Faculty of Charles University and became a parishioner of the Czech Brethren congregation in Kladno, 30 kilometres (20 miles) from Prague. With vigor and energy he has pondered and written on the theme Komensky and his interpreatation of the Bible.
The secession protestant church Unitas Fratrum or, in English, The Unity of Brethren came into existence in 1457. Branded as heretic, it was oppressed both by Czech King Jiří z Poděbrad and, 100 years later, by Ferdinand I. Finally, in 1609, the denomination achieved iots legalization trough the Majesty Emperor of Rudolf II. We owe them a "Blahoslav" translation of the New Testament that became the rootstock for "Bible Kralicka", the monumental Czech language retelling of the Bible its three original languages (issued 1579-1593).
Čeští bratři, or Czech Brethren, did not enjoy the goodwill of the monarchs for long. After the Battle of White Mountain (Bitva na Bílé Hoře - 1620 ) they were persecuted until the 19th century. That is the reason why many emigrated to Saxony, Poland, Hungary and Prussia.
Their confession was practised not only by the Czech community trying to correct the wrongdoings of the Roman Catholic Church but even by some ethnic German countryman in Northern Moravia, eastern part of Czechia, though the existence of the initial Czech Brethren Church virtually faded with the death of the last bishop and "teacher of the nations" J. A. Komensky (+ 1670 in Naarden). The Moravian Church was founded in the year 1727, whose theological nature originated from the postulates of The Unity Brethren, although they did not fully coincide.
The Moravian Brethren disseminating the beliefs of "Master" Jan Hus including his condemnation of "indulgences" sold by the Roman Pope as a means to pardon one´s sins, covered large parts of the world with their missions. To a large extend Germans, mainly during the Communist time in our country which by no means patronized any religion, "hijacked" the Brethren´s calling to such an extend that on my research in South Africa in the 1990´s I encountened solely German surnames on the list of missionary station´s white occupants.
One of the founders of the town Bethlehem in Pennsylvania in the year 1741 was bishop Nirchman, ordained by a grandson of Komensky. Another Moravian bishop Spangenberg founded the Winston-Salem settlement in North Carolina.
A former Moravian mission was situated at the place of a present Indian reservation in Ontario. The main aim of a missionarie´s effort was to spread the faith among gentiles in South America, Surinam, Jamaica, Africa, Tibet, Labrador and Greenland. They built leprosarium and old-age-homes. Maintainig the cultural heritage gained from the Czech Brethren, the Moravians also built schools and supported edication in music and singing.
In 1998, former president Nelson Mandela praised the Church of Moravian Brethren for its merits in the development of South Africa by naming the presidential home in Cape Town Genadental, after the first Moravian mission in the country. The Moravian priests from what is now Czechia where one of the first Europeans who came, starting from 1737, into close contact with South African tribes including Khoi and Bushmen, and converted to the Christian religion. They also brought with them new crops, new crafts and changed the attitude towards medicine.
Among the social groups influenced by the religion sourced from Czech reformer Jan Hus, used to be a higher percentage of educated people than within the rest of the population.
In the Western of Tibet, Ladakh, the Moravian Brethren stipulated the first publication of the Bible in the Tibetan language.
Another homesick descendant of the White Mountain emigrants who first found refuge in Zelow, Poland and later wandered farther on to Ukraine and from there elsewhere, has been Dipl. Eng. Alexandr Drbal. He was founding the Council of the Czechoslovak Cultural and Community Society of J. A. Komenský in Ukraine. Participating in the efforts to develop relations between the Czech Brethren of Ukraine and the Czech protestant church there, he played a major role in erecting an evangelical church - Bethlehem chapel - in a predominantly Czech village Bohemka (1996) some miles from the Black Sea port of Odessa.
Drbal, whose name by all accounts deserves to be inscribed in textbooks on the Czech enlightenment, has saved records on the arrival of the Unity of Brethren descendants to one more Czech village in Ukraine - Veselinovka.
Soon after Drbal moved from Ukraine and settled in the country of his greatgranfathers which in 1989 regained democracy and ecclesiastical freedom; the outstanding Gratias Agit award was bestowed on him by the Minister of Forign Affairs for enhancing the good reputation of The Czech Republic abroad.Written by Bohuslav Hynek
Translated by Helen Vavrecka
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