Methodist History: The What and Why of Love Feasts

At some of the oldest Methodist churches in the U.S., you might see a three-handled cup on display. These large vessels are not early communion cups, they're part of a different church celebration called the Love Feast. Dale Patterson with the General Commission on Archives and History tells us that Love Feasts were common in the early days of Methodism in America.

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At some United Methodist Churches in the U.S., you might see a three handled cup on display. These large vessels were part of a service of scripture, song, testimony, and sharing called the Love Feast.

Dale Patterson, General Commission on Archives and History: “If you ever see a cup displayed with three handles, it was probably a Love Feast cup. Methodists practiced a rite that we call the Love Feast. What was that? It was a special time of relationship and community building. It has its roots really quite way back in Christian history. Wesley bumped into it through his contact with Moravians.

So what was it? It is the class or the local church community getting together and sharing water and bread. I would take a drink of the water. I would give it to you. The next person sitting next to me, and I would say a thank you of some kind. I might say a prayer. I might say a blessing. And I would pass that to you and then you could take a drink, turn to the next person, pass it to them, share good news with them. It was a way of helping build community. The Love Feast is relational. It is me sharing with others, with you, how God’s grace has been working in my life today and it’s a way of helping to build up our community. The Love Feast helps us share that life which Wesley felt was so important. Christian life needs to be a shared life. I live the spirit and I share with my friends and family in the community.

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The United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History and UMC.org have teamed up to share the life stories of early Methodists and interesting notes from the history of the denomination. Watch more videos.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Joe Iovino.

This video was first posted on September 14, 2017.