The Love Feast - Issue #127
Fairmount Avenue United Methodist Church is a medium sized congregation in St. Paul, Minnesota. Covenant Discipleship groups have been part of their ministry of accountable discipleship since 2007. Currently, approximately 45 people participate in several Covenant Discipleship groups. Each group develops a covenant that includes things such as regular Scripture study, prayer, participation in acts of compassion, and so forth. The groups meet weekly to support and hold one another accountable as Christian disciples.
Like all small groups, Covenant Discipleship groups require intentional pastoral and congregational support. Every three months at Fairmount Avenue United Methodist Church, all members of the various Covenant Discipleship groups are invited to a time of fellowship and worship. This "Quarterly Conference" is a time for the members of the various groups to share stories and give testimony about how participating in the group has helped them to grow in holiness of heart and life. They share some of the problems and challenges each group encounters and discuss how they deal with them.
The Quarterly Conference closes with a Love Feast. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Love Feast was a very important expression of Methodist spirituality. John Wesley borrowed and adapted it from the Moravians. The Love Feast is an informal time of worship that includes prayer, hymn singing, Scripture, preaching, testimony, giving to benefit the poor, and sharing bread and water. Since it is not sacramental, the Love Feast is often lead by a lay person. It is a time for Covenant Discipleship group members to give personal testimony about their experience and struggles with God and discipleship.
At Fairmount Avenue UMC, the Love Feast continues to be a powerful means of grace that encourages members who are striving to grow in holiness of heart and life with the support and accountability of their Covenant Discipleship groups.
Some Questions for Discussion
- How does your congregation help members to be accountable for their Christian discipleship?
- What ministries of your congregation might be enhanced by including a Love Feast?