God Almighty

God's Acre

God's Acre is the traditional name given to the graveyards of Congregations of the Moravian Church. The first was at Herrnhut Saxony in Germany, the Moravian Mother Congregation. The name comes from the symbolic gesture of the bodies of the Moravian dead being "sown" in God's Acre, as in a field, so that they can rise again when Jesus Christ returns to the world. God's Acre is not literally one acre in size; many are larger or smaller.

Moravians believe strongly in equality in death; therefore, every stone in a God's Acre is a recumbent stone with the same proportions and made of the same material so that no one person stands out among the stones. The Communion of Saints is continued even on the graveyard as it reflects the continuity of the congregation. In addition, the deceased are buried by choir; to the Moravians, these were the living groups into which the Congregation was originally divided to meet the needs of the members according to their age and station in life. Originally men and women sat in their choir groups in church at worship. The burial by choir in God's Acre also reflects the way the members of the congregation sat as a worshipping community so that visually and symbolically the Congregation continues in the graveyard.

Along with being separated by gender, there are also sections for people of different age and marital status. The typical configuration has sections for infant girls and infant boys, girls and boys, single men and single women, and married men and married women. The deceased are buried in their section in the order they have died. Smaller God's Acres may combine the infant and children sections. Some larger God's Acres, such as the one for the Salem Congregation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, may also have separate sections for those who are cremated, as their remains take up less space than those who are buried with their bodies intact. This section is also organized by choir.

Many God's Acres also feature arched entrance gates inscribed with an appropriate Bible verse along the top. Smaller God's Acres may only have one, but there can be more than that if there is more than one entrance to the graveyard.

Many Moravian churches have a custom of holding an Easter sunrise service, or Resurrection Service in a God's Acre, the "Church Militant" gathering together amid the graves of the "Church Triumphant" before the Risen Savior. The week prior to the service, families and church groups clean the gravestones and decorate them with flowers, transforming the God's Acre into an almost-garden like place. The opening words of the Resurrection Service, "The Lord is risen!/The Lord is risen indeed!" date from the first such Moravian-style service in Herrnhut, Germany in 1732. The liturgy for the service is a Confession of Faith drawn up by Nicolaus Ludwig, Count von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) patron and leader of the Renewed Unitas Fratrum. It is based on Dr. Martin Luther 's Small Catechism.

God's Acre in Blackville, South Carolina

God's Acre also refers to a small patch of land whose legal owner is "God Almighty". The land includes a natural spring whose water local tradition holds has healing powers. Located near Blackville, South Carolina, the land was owned by L. P. "Lute" Boylston until 1944 when he died. In his will, Boylston gave the land to "God Almighty" to ensure that the water from its spring would always be free for anyone to drink. It can be found just off SC 3; look for signs three miles (5 km) north of Blackville.

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