Shamokin: The Stronghold of the Prince of Darkness, 1746-1749
WHEN SPANGENBERG returned to America in 1744, he brought with him an elaborate and comprehensive communal plan of organization for Bethlehem. It was the result of many months of intensive planning and became known as the "General Economy." The new concept influenced church activities not only in Bethlehem but also in other Moravian settlements, including villages later built on the Nazareth lands. New names such as Friedensthal, Christianbrunn, and Gnadenthal would be added to the lexicon of Moravian interests. The Economy brought under one manager, the vicar general, all personnel required to operate the religious, agricultural, commercial, industrial, and mission activities of the church.
Spangenberg and the men who surrounded him were not academic theorists, religious doctrinarians, or starry-eyed dreamers. They were soberminded, hardworking men of affairs who had lived in the wilderness long enough to know how to cope with the problems they faced.
The Bethlehem plan was unique among the communal experiments of the time. The residents volunteered to join the Brethren for an indefinite period and gave their time and labor for the common cause. In return they received food, shelter, and spiritual guidance. No personal liberty was surrendered. There were no written contracts stipulating a period of time the