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At 'Lovefeast,' Fairfield church celebrates Moravian tradition

Published 9:16 am, Sunday, January 15, 2012

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  • Alice Caldwell, the music director at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, plays piano while Katie Jenks sings a hymn celebrating Epiphany with traditional Moravian music in a Jan. 8 service at the Fairfield church. Photo: Mike Lauterborn / Fairfield Citizen contributed
    Alice Caldwell, the music director at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, plays piano while Katie Jenks sings a hymn celebrating Epiphany with traditional Moravian music in a Jan. 8 service at the Fairfield church. Photo: Mike Lauterborn

 

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It was a celebration of the Epiphany, selfless love and perhaps even the New York Giants' win over the Atlanta Falcons judging by the team colors worn by a worshipper.

On a Sunday featuring critical NFL match-ups, the congregation at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, 160 Hill Farm Road, commemorated its sixth annual Moravian Lovefeast. A tradition since 1727 in Germany, the feast takes its inspiration from the agape fellowship meal of early Christians, which is combined with hymns from Moravian and Lutheran traditions. "Agape" is a Greek term meaning selfless love.

The musical portion of the session was led by Alice Caldwell, the church music director, while the Rev. Mark Christoffersen quoted passages of scripture. Hymns were led by parishioners Sue Nash and Katie Jenks, who performed both solos and duets.

Midway through the event, participants were served a cup of apple cider and a Swedish bun, similar to what was served at the first Lovefeast, which followed the renewal of the Moravian Church. Moravians are spiritual descendants of the Czech reformer Jan Hus. The Moravian Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have been sharing ministers and ministries since 1999.

Caldwell brought the Lovefeast tradition to the church. "I spent my 20s working on my doctoral degree, focused on Moravian music and how they used it in their communities," she said. "They built up a high level of expertise. When I came to Our Saviour's in 2005, I tried to bring in ideas of Moravian music, like our own orchestra."

The congregation's choir made a trip to Germany in 2007, and performed in many places. They returned to Fairfield with a Moravian star, which is now used as the symbol of Epiphany and hangs brightly in the church.

"At our first Lovefeast, we had a guest pastor to help guide us," said Caldwell. "We no longer have that connection, but we've gotten good at this. And many of our hymns have been suggested by church members."

About the ceremony, Will Thoretz, a church member since 1998, added, "It's a great way to show connections between denominations in the Christian world."