HARRISONBURG, Va. – When Paul Fike Stutzman began writing his master’s thesis at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, he soon realized he had more material than the 80-120 page project required.
After a year of writing, his 237-page thesis was turned in, but Stutzman still had more to write. The result: a 294-page book titled, “Recovering the Love Feast: Broadening our Eucharistic Celebrations,” published January 1, 2011 by Wipf and Stock.
The Love Feast is a church ritual practiced by the Church of the Brethren, Stutzman’s denomination. It includes footwashing, a meal and communion and usually happens during Passion Week. It is intended to imitate the disciples’ last supper
with Jesus as described in the Bible in John 13.
Stutzman’s book details the history of the Love Feast, beginning with its early practice, its gradual decline, and finally its reemergence in Anabaptist and Pietist groups.
For more than Church of the Brethren
“The love feast is a valuable Christian practice for all denominations today,” Stutzman argues in his book.
“My hope is that this book will help Christians from a broad range of backgrounds to learn about the historical Love Feast and to consider ways in which they might celebrate it today, focusing on the themes of submission, love, confession, reconciliation and thanksgiving,” Stutzman continued.
Eleanor Kreider, noted author and theologian writing in the book’s foreword, said: “I am convinced that the full-orbed Love Feast which draws the five themes together carries potential for genuine renewal.”
Blog gives others an opportunity to comment
In addition to his thesis material, the book contains two entirely new chapters as well as revisions and additions. He has also started a blog at thelovefeast.wordpress.com to invite people to share their experiences of the love feast in a variety of traditions.
“I have been excited to discover examples of the Love Feast being celebrated by Presbyterians, Pentecostals, emerging churches and others,” said Stutzman. “I think the Brethren can learn from those who are experimenting with new expressions of Love Feast, just as we in turn can share our 300-year experience with them.”
Stutzman is a licensed minister in the Church of the Brethren. He and his wife Karen live in Rocky Mount, Va with their children, Kaylee and Joshua. He received his master of arts in religion degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary in 2009.
“Recovering the Love Feast” is available for $25.60 from Wipf and Stock at www.wipfandstock.com.