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Produced by Joey Butler. Photos by Kathleen Barry.

United Methodist Mardi Gras Jazz Mass

Since 1999, West End United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn., has celebrated the day before Lent begins with a Mardi Gras Jazz Mass. Congregants and community members feast at the church’s Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, then head to the sanctuary for a lively New Orleans-style jazz worship service.


(Nashville, Tenn.)

(Band plays “When the Saints Go Marching In”)

(Children and their parents select toppings for their pancakes)

Emily McCord: We came last year but I’m excited about this year because she can participate more and have fun. She loves pancakes.

(Reporter): Ellie, you ready for pancakes?

Ellie: Yeeeeeahhh.

Emily: (laughs) Ohhhh yeah.

Bonnie Seay: My church where I grew up in Hopkinsville, Ky., didn’t have anything like this. It’s very effective, and the service is very wonderful as well.

The Rev. John Feldhacker: It’s connected to Wesleyan theology, it’s a Wesleyan service. There’s the sermon, the communion table. Open communion table, that’s an important part of gathering together, where everyone’s welcome. And it’s pretty traditional in every other way. The whole jazz mass starts as the festive spirit of Carnival and when we enter into the service, it begins with taking off our masks, so taking off the masks of self-deception, self control, as well as the literal masks people are wearing. Moves into a more somber leading into Lent that’s more penitent, calling for becoming aware, laying down the things that keep us from connecting to God. It’s very Methodist if you look at the tradition.


For more information on West End United Methodist, you may contact the church at 615.321.8500.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications. Media contact is Joey Butler, 615-742-5470,

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