The Moravian episcopate was transferred to the new organization on 13 March 1735, when David Nitschmann was consecrated a bishop at Berlin by Bishop Daniel Ernst Jablonsky with the written concurrence of Bishop Christian Sitkovius of Lissa, they being the last two sur viving bishops of the old line. A notable spirit ual experience which marked the year 1727, when the first definite organization took place at Herrnhut, produced an intense zeal for evan gelization. The result, during the next few years, was the establishment of other congre gations on the continent of Europe, the found ing of the Church in England and America and missions to the heathen which have chiefly given the Church its reputation. The first such mis sion was begun in 1732 on the island of Saint Thomas, West Indies.
The first Moravian evangelist came to Penn sylvania in 1734. The first settlement in Amer ica and mission to the Indians was founded at Savannah, Ga., in 1735. Untoward political conditions caused its abandonment in 1740 and the removal of the colonists to Pennsylvania, where a permanent settlement arose in the pres ent Northampton County, with organized activ ity in Philadelphia and New York and an exten sive itinerary among white settlers and Indians. The Moravian pioneers in a the Forks of the Delaware" first located on a tract of land which the evangelist George Whitefield had purchased and named Nazareth, where he proposed to found a village and a negro charity school. This property came into possession of the Moravian Church in 1741. On another tract at the conflu ence of the Monocacy Creek and the Lehigh River its chief settlement was founded in that year and at Christmas 1741, when Count Zin zendorf was at the place, it received the name Bethlehem. In June 1742, a considerable colony from Europe joined the pioneers and the settle ment was regularly organized. The population was divided into an itinerant and a local con gregation, the former to engage in gospel work among white settlers and Indians, the latter to develop the settlement and provide support for the missionaries. Thus, from the first, Beth lehem was the centre of the Moravian Church in America and of its various activities.
Until 1762 a co-operative union was main tained at Bethlehem and Nazareth which was called the General Economy. All labored for a common cause and received sustenance from a common stock, but there was no surrender of private property and no obligation which pre vented the individual from withdrawing when he chose. Numerous colonies came to America
during those years on vessels owned and man aged by the Church and under the arrangement which existed results were accomplished which would not otherwise have been possible. The material benefits of the settlement were appre ciated by the authorities of Pennsylvania, and the spiritual activities prosecuted by the Moravians, although misunderstood i and op posed by some, as was the case also n Europe, were epoch-making in the religious growth of the country.
Two notable lines of effort in colonial times, in addition to the Indian missions, were the propagation of Zinzendorf's idea of evangelical alliance and denominational federation, and religious education of children. Desiring to di minish rather than increase denominational divisions the leaders of the Church generally refrained from organizing distinctly Moravian congregations and in consequence of this policy the Moravian Church remained numerically a small body. The European plan of the Church to concentrate in exclusive settlements to some extent was followed for a full century. Be sides Bethlehem and Nazareth, such church-vil lages, founded prior to the Revolutionary War, were Lititz in Lancaster County, Pa., Hope in Sussex, now Warren County, N. J.,—abandoned in 1808— and Salem, now a part of Winston Salem in Forsyth County, N. C., the central settlement on a large tract of land .purchased of the earl of Granville and named Wachovia. These places continued long to be conserving i centres of all that was distinctive in the reli gious and social life of the Moravian Church, as fostered under the influence of Zinzendorf's ideas and methods, presenting interesting ex periments in municipal government, industrial order and general culture. They are yet the seats of widely known educational institutions, all founded in the 18th century. A few of the town and country congregations organized in colonial times, without the peculiarities of the church settlements, are yet in existence. Dur ing the years from 1844 to 1856, the exclu sive system was entirely abolished by all of the Moravian villages in America and their unique character rapidly disappeared. At that period active home mission work was revived and since then many congregations have been founded in various parts of the United States. The most fruitful of these efforts have been in several of the Northwestern States.