ABSTRACT

While the Moravian Inuit congregations in Labrador prior to 1840 had a variety of male and female chapel servants and noncommissioned helpers, some of whom also fulfilled pastoral and evangelistic functions, none had ever been officially appointed to the office of a “national helper” (“National-Gehülfe”). In Labrador, this situation would change gradually in the coming decade, in part through prompting by the elders in Saxony. The process leading to that change is studied by examining the exchange of the local missionaries with the Unity Elders' Conference (UEC). While we can thus observe the change in Aboriginal lay leadership through the eyes of church administrators and missionaries, the reactions of the Moravian Inuit affected by these changes can at best be gleaned from the scope and nature of their extended activities, but without any direct access to the reflections of the lay helpers themselves. The story depicted here conveys nevertheless internal knowledge of one side of the process that led to indigenizing the Moravian ministry in Labrador. Official participation in church and ministry remained more limited in Labrador than in other missionary locales, a situation that continued into the twentieth century.

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