FROM THE BISHOP
R. LAWSON BRYAN
To the South Georgia Conference:
Thank you for the exemplary ways in which you are being adaptive, imaginative, and innovative. This pandemic has revealed in a fresh way the commitment you have to Jesus Christ and to your church and community.
I celebrate the power of relationships and connectedness I see going on within the South Georgia Conference in the midst of this pandemic. Laity and clergy are finding creative ways that enable us to remain Alive Together in Christ.
I would like to offer one such way for us as the South Georgia Conference to be connected, even when we cannot physically be together. Sherrill and I would like to invite you into our home - virtually - for an Agape Meal on Sunday, May 3 at 6:00 p.m.
This will be a special time, lasting no more than 30 minutes, where I will lead us through the ancient practice of a Love Feast - or Agape Meal - that is well-suited for the time in which we find ourselves. The Agape Meal unites Christians in table fellowship using bread, cup, scripture, and prayer for encouragement and support—the very things we need most right now.
The New Testament letter of Jude, verse 12, contains a reference to the early Christian practice of a love feast. And who can read Acts 2:42, 46-47 without longing to experience this kind of connectedness among believers?
The Moravians, a group of German Christians, introduced the Love Feast/Agape Meal to John Wesley in Savannah, Georgia in 1737. Under Wesley’s influence it became a significant part of early Methodism. His diary notes state: “After evening prayers, we joined with the Germans in one of their love–feasts. It was begun and ended with thanksgiving and prayer, and celebrated in so decent and solemn a manner as a Christian of the apostolic age would have allowed to be worthy of Christ.”
The Agape Meal can be celebrated online. It does not require an ordained person to officiate; any Christian may conduct it. Historically, it has often been used in situations where a service of Holy Communion was not feasible. Although its origins in the early church are closely interconnected with the origins of the Lord's Supper, the two services became quite distinct and should not be confused with each other. The Agape Meal has its own uniqueness and can be a “fresh expression” of the Christian faith for our church members.
At a time when we are looking for ways to remain connected to one other, I am excited for this time to celebrate an Agape Meal together. All you will need is your version of comfort food: something to eat and drink. I hope you will join me.
Alive Together in Christ,
R. Lawson Bryan
Additional instructions on how to prepare and take part in the Agape Meal will be provided on the conference website at www.sgaumc.org/agapemeal in the coming week.