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What is a Moravian monument doing in Sharon?



Photo by Peter Vermilyea

The Moravians, also known as the Unity of Brethren, were a group of refugees from what is now the Czech Republic. As followers of the Catholic revolutionary Jan Hus, they were sent out to promote the beliefs of the Moravian church, which emphasizes the ideal of service and the importance of educational and missionary work. It was an effort on the part of Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, a Moravian bishop who came to America in 1740 to spread Christianity among Native Americans.

Through his efforts, a mission was set up in New Milford, founded by the Reverend Christian Henry Rauch, followed by a second one in Sharon to minister to settlements at Shekomeko in Pine Plains, New York, Schagticokes in Kent, and Wequagnock near Sharon. 

In 1745 the Moravians were forced out of New York State for fear that they were  secret emissaries of the Catholic Church. As a result, many Christian Indians returned to the mission in Sharon under the leadership of David Bruce, a teacher from Edinburgh, Scotland. 

In October 1859, almost one hundred years after his death, a monument to Bruce and a later Moravian missionary named Joseph Powel, was erected in Sharon. It is still visible through the woods along Route 361. The east side of the structure features this passage from Isaiah:

How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him that bringeth
Good tidings, that publisheth peace,
That bringeth good tidings of good,
That publisheth salvation. 

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