Anthony


Anthony
(fl. 1730s)
   African slave who helped spark worldwide Protestant missionary activity
   Little is known of Anthony's early life. He was converted to Christianity while a slave on St. Thomas. In 1731, he traveled with his master to Copenhagen, where he had the opportunity to tell his story and that of the African population on St. Thomas to Count Nicolas von Zinzendorf and the Moravian brothers in Denmark at the time. The slaves were in need of the church's ministrations, he said, but it was not being provided by the Lutheran ministers in St. Thomas. He argued that it would take a slave to reach them, as they worked long, exhausting hours.
   The Moravians became enthusiastic about responding to Anthony's request. They commissioned two of their members, Leonhard Dober (1706-66) and David Nitschmann (1696-1772) (chosen by lots, as was their custom), as the first Moravian foreign missionaries. They reached St. Thomas at the end of 1732. Dober returned to Europe in 1734, bringing his first and only convert, a former slave named Carmel Oly, to the Moravian center at Herrnhut (on Zinzendorf's estate). Over the decades, the Moravians had lost their episcopal leadership, which meant they could not ordain, and thus had no one who could baptize. Faced with the need to baptize Oly, they reorganized and selected a bishop (again by lots), David Nischmann, who was consecrated in 1735. Among his first actions of the reconstituted church was the baptism of Carmel Oly.
   After his encounter with the Moravians, Anthony slipped back into obscurity, and his eventual fate is unknown. However, he is remembered for his pivotal role in launching the spread of Protestantism around the world.
   See also Moravian Church.
   Further reading:
   ■ J. Taylor Hamilton and Kenneth G. Hamilton, History of the Moravian Church: The Renewed Unitas Fratrum, 1722-1957 (Bethlehem, Pa./Winston-Salem, N.C.: Interprovincial Board of Christian Education, Moravian Church in America, 1967).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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