The Love Feast

By Ronald W. Waters

April 12, 2017

 

Four northeast Ohio Brethren churches joined together for threefold communion on Sunday, April 9, at Beacon of Hope Community Church, Louisville, Ohio. A total of 76 persons from the four congregations participated.

Leaders of the Northeast Ohio Cluster – Beacon of Hope Community, North Georgetown First Brethren, Radial Church, and Trinity Brethren – have been meeting together for over two years to explore ways to be on mission together for Jesus. Out of that conversation came the idea to bring the entire congregations together for one of the quintessential Brethren practices – threefold communion.

 

 

 

Deacons and hospitality leaders for the four congregations shared responsibility for preparing the bread and cup, foot washing, and love feast. Pastors Dustin White and Ronald W. Waters led the introduction and transitions for the service. Radial and Beacon of Hope provided times of worship and music.

One of the early discoveries was that each congregation expected their normal practice to be “the Brethren way,” as if every congregation observes communion in the same manner. But the deacons soon discovered that each congregation had unique ways of approaching the service. They agreed to honor those distinct differences.

For example, Radial led the bread and cup by using a modified practice of intinction: dipping the bread in the grape juice of the cup and consuming it as one unit. Participants formed a circle in the worship center. Then leaders served one person the bread and cup, who then served the next person, and so on around the circle.

For foot washing, the deacons of North Georgetown and Beacon of Hope combined their practices – washing consecutively around circles of participants (North Georgetown’s practice) but pouring water on the feet rather than dipping them in the basins (Beacon’s practice).

"The love feast was typically Brethren – a symbolic meal of a sandwich, pickles, cheese, and grapes. What was unique was that Brethren from the four congregations distributed themselves so each church was represented at each table."

This resulted in a lively time of fellowship and allowed participants to become acquainted with folks from the other churches.

The idea of a joint gathering was not completely out of the ordinary. Radial has served the interim pastoral role for Beacon since Pastor Ralph Gibson’s retirement in June 2016. Because they meet at different times (Beacon on Sunday mornings and Radial Sunday nights), they provide childcare for one another’s worship services. Several folks from each congregation now worship with the other church.

Radial, Beacon, and North Georgetown have had three shared teaching series where pastors routinely speak at the other churches. In December 2016, Beacon, Radial, and Trinity held a joint Christmas Eve service. All three are sharing a joint Good Friday service at Trinity in 2017, and Beacon and Radial are sharing an Easter morning worship service. 

All churches are supporting the work of Flourish 44703, a non-profit ministry started by Radial to help their Canton, Ohio, neighbors spiritually, socially, and economically flourish through the creation, acquisition, and formation of residential, commercial, and community spaces. (Park Street and Smithville Brethren Churches and the Ohio District Mission Board have also been major contributors to Flourish.)

As the transition from districts to regions progresses, and as congregations form clusters with other Brethren churches, we encourage you to join together for worship and service to demonstrate your presence as the body of Christ called Brethren in your broader communities.

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Comments (2) - Post a Comment
So glad I went, was very blessed! Worship, communion, foot washing, love feast, felt like home- we are all family. I met some lovely people! Hope we do it again sometime.
Jenny Strawn at 6:51pm EDT - April 13, 2017
I would like to know more about the brethren church.my address isthomas skayhan 101 orson drive defuniak springs,Florida 32433
Thomas skayhan at 1:29pm EDT - April 17, 2017


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