Moravian Easter Morning Service at the God’s Acre, the Moravian graveyard.
Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement
In the summer of 2015, Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement was inscribed to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. In this case study we see how a small Protestant community interacts with a wide array of outsiders, like government agents, heritage professionals and tourists, in an effort to control and manage what makes Christiansfeld meaningful as both a Moravian place and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Founded in 1773 by the Moravian Brethren (Herrnhuter), Christiansfeld was built according to a perfect plan, as Moravians wanted to establish a Protestant utopian society where congregants would lead a life in communal industry and worship. Today the recently renovated site makes out the historic center of a small rural town of 3000 inhabitants in Southern Denmark, where the Moravians count about 140 people.
A small and active Pietist community, the Moravian Brethren of Christiansfeld have experienced a considerable growth of outside attention in both their material (e.g. buildings, architecture, design) and immaterial (e.g. rituals, theology, music, social organization) values as heritage. An indicator of this is the five-fold increase of recorded visitors to the local tourist centre from about 5.000 in 2014 to more than 40.000 in 2015 and 30.000 in the following years. Through ethnographic fieldwork combined with media analysis HERILIGION examines the recent drastic transition entailing both social, religious and economic changes to local life of the community, which only recently rose to national and global prominence and valorization due to World Heritage status. We investigate how the religious community engages such a monumental transformation, and how it affects the religious life and practice of the Moravian community. We explore how the community responds to outside interpretation and interference in local affairs and ask in what way this affects the way Moravians understand themselves as a community in the present and of the past.