Central Moravian Church is Bethlehem’s first congregation and the oldest Moravian Church in North America. Coming from a variety of backgrounds and traditions, our congregation today comes together to experience God’s love in a caring, respectful and inclusive atmosphere. Central Moravian Church emphasizes Christian faith, hope and love.
Central Moravian Church is listed in Ideas’ Travel Guide on Historic Places of Worship in the United States, joining other places of worship such as the National Cathedral and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. USA Today, in 1998, named Central Moravian Church as one of the nation’s Ten Greatest Places to Reflect on Christmas Eve.
Several places of worship were utilized by the early Moravians in their mission to bring the good news to the early colonists and American Indians in Bethlehem.
The Saal was the central place of worship in 1742 for the early inhabitants of the Bethlehem community. It is located on the second floor of the Gemeinhaus or community house (today it is part of the Moravian Museum). In 1751, the Saal could not hold the number of worshippers and the Old Chapel became the new place of worship.
Near the corner of Heckewelder Place and Church Street, the Old Chapel served as the place of worship for the community for the next 55 years until the community was concerned that they needed a larger church to meet their future needs.
On April 16, 1803 the cornerstone was placed for a new Sanctuary. The Sanctuary was the largest church building in PA at the time, although the final cost of $52,000 exceeded the $11,000 estimate. It was completed in 1806, and seats about 1,200.