This blog attempts to collate various materials in connection with the year 1735.


First Moravians arrive in Georgia

The Moravian mission in Georgia has been described as “a failed prelude to building bigger and better things to come.” The Moravians arrived in Savannah on April 6, 1735
How did Moravians end up in Georgia? Zinzendorf originally brokered land in Georgia for the Schwenkfelder (not Moravian) refugees living on his land near Berthelsdorf. When the Schwenkfelders were banished from Saxony in 1733, they asked Zinzendorf to help them relocate. They had heard of Governor James Oglethorpe’s plans to admit those fleeing religious persecution to the new colony of Georgia in America. Protestants were desired to form a buffer between the English colonies and Spanish Catholics from Florida and French-Catholics from Louisiana. With Zinzendorf’s help the Schwenkfelders travelled as far as Holland, but then accepted an offer for passage to Pennsylvania instead after hearing rumours of poor land and being turned into slaves by the English in Georgia. The Trustees of Georgia then allowed Moravians to take the land themselves, granting them 500 acres on the Ogeechee River, plus two 50-acre tracts in Savannah.
Zinzendorf capitalised on this change of events: “I therefore look into every opportunity which presents itself [to make Jesus known among the “heathen”]. The first group of ten men left London on February 3, 1735, and after nine weeks at sea arrived in the Savannah harbor on April 6. The company, led by Spangenberg, included masons, carpenters, weavers, a gardener and a game-keeper - all pious workmen skilled to establish an independent mission community in Georgia.
Zinzendorf instructed them: “You must live alone, establishing your own little corner, where your customs will irritate no one...Your one aim will be to establish a little place near the heathen where you may gather together the dispersed in Israel, patiently win back the wayward, and instruct the heathen tribes.”
Upon arriving in Savannah, the group was immediately visited by friendly Native Americans and introduced to the Yamacraw chief, Tomochichi, who would prove to be a peaceful ally. The Moravians quickly went to work, finishing their cabin in six days and laying out ten acres of garden on plots outside of town in less than two weeks. Some of their neighbours remarked “that the Moravians had done more in a week than their people in two years.”
The first year found the group preoccupied with survival rather than any true mission work. They spent much of their time surveying and cultivating their land and building shelter for themselves and the next expected company. Adjusting to the new climate and a poor diet was hard on the group and most fell ill, although only one, Friedrich Riedel, a mason, died that first year.
Although a second group of 25 men and women arrived on February 23, 1736, “internal disputes” and political pressure to bear arms doomed the work to failure before much could be accomplished. Peter Böhler later said, “the good children lost sight of their Plan.” Through death and abandonment the group dwindled to six by 1740, and impending war with the Spanish finally drove them to Pennsylvania, where mission work resumed - this time with much more success.

John Cennick 1718-1755 under conviction

William McKeown tells us that
About Easter 1735 John Cennick experienced a period of deep conviction of sin. It was a time of great misery for him:
‘I felt at once an uncommon fear and dejection … through the strength of convictions and the fear of going to hell … I knew not any weight before like this.’ No amusement could lift the load. Getting away from the town for a walk in the country did no good, for even there ‘the terrors of the Lord came upon me, and the pains of hell took hold of me’.
A light-hearted companion eased the burden, but only for a time, for when they separated, the burden returned.
‘Whoever I met I envied their happiness. Whatever I heard grieved me; whatever I said or did so troubled me, that I repented that I stirred or broke silence. If I laughed at any thing my heart smote me immediately; and if the occasion was a foolish jest or lie, I thought, alas! I helped not only to ruin my own soul, but the souls of others too.’
He gave up worldly amusements, he even considered going into a monastery to get peace of mind, but it was all to no avail. Often he would be haunted in bed at night by confused thoughts. He tried exercise, eating and medicine, but all proved useless. He confesses that although he was convicted of sin he had no power over sin: ‘I committed it continually, though not in the eyes of the world. My chief sins were pride, murmuring against God, blasphemy, disobedience, and evil concupiscence; sometimes I strove against them, but finding myself always conquered I concluded there was no help.’ In church his mind wandered. It seemed to him that his worship was a mockery of God. At one point he left off praying for he considered the prayers of the wicked an abomination. The devil suggested to him that there was no God. He cried out, ‘Have I sinned more than all the sons of Adam? O that I had never been born.’
He was convinced that heaven was closed to him. He described these times: ‘I stood still and fixed my heavy eyes on the trees, walls or on the ground, amazed above measure, and often crying with a bitter cry, “What must I do to be saved?”‘ He thought of going to the country to be a plough-boy, of even starving himself to death, but he could not get any peace. ‘I could not be thankful for any temporal blessings, because I thought myself so unsettled, and because no blessing satisfied my craving soul or made me wish to stay behind on earth a day … nor could meat, drink, or raiment give me any comfort; I only wanted to know if I had any part in Jesus.’
He tried mortification, eating only once a day and fasting from Friday breakfast until Sunday noon, when he had Communion, but it was no good: ‘No alms, or fasting, or prayers, or watchings could cover my naked soul from almighty wrath.’ This period of conviction lasted for about two years during which even Scripture brought him no comfort: ‘To me all beside the law and the judgements and their terrors were like a book sealed so that I could not read it (as I thought) to profit by it at all.’

He was eventually converted in 1737