For early American Methodists, quarterly meetings were great festivals at the heart of Methodism’s liturgical life. The meetings lasted several days and could attract thousands. In this volume, Lester Ruth offers a revisionist description of worship at the quarterly meetings in early American Methodism (ca. 1772-1825). The author describes the quarterly meeting as the setting in which early Methodism most dramatized itself for public view as graced fellowship. He explores each of the liturgical dynamics of this experience, including the distinction between public and private worship, the loud exuberance of American Methodists, the vivid proclamation of God’s Word, the role of the sacraments and of Wesley’s liturgical innovations, the power of fellowship as eschatological manifestation, and the interaction between the personal experience of grace and ecclesial inclusion.
Lester Ruth is a historian of Christian worship. He works as an instructor in worship history at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies and as the Research Professor of Christian Worship at Duke Divinity School. Before arriving at Duke in July, 2011, he taught at Asbury Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School. Interested in all eras and forms of worship, his main concerns are worship in the early church, Methodism, and recent developments in contemporary worship. His passion is seeing how worship of the past might enrich the church today. The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship has sponsored some of his recent works.