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.
Unique in its analysis of the quarterly meetings as a key to understanding Early Methodism's liturgical life, this book redefines methodology for doing early Methodist liturgical historiography. It makes ample use of primary materials, including much unpublished archival material: hymns, letters, dairies, prayers, sermons, homiletical manuals, etc. The book offers a fuller, more accurate portrayal of the life of early American Methodists. It will enable readers to understand how Methodist polity shaped worship rhythms and practices and how Methodist piety affected worship and its interpretation. Readers will gain increased understanding of how ecclesial context affects personal experiences of God's grace.