American Methodist Worship

American Methodist Worship

American Methodist Worship

American Methodist Worship

Synopsis

This book offers a comprehensive examination of Methodist practice, tracing its evolution from the earliest days up to the present. Using liturgical texts as well as written accounts in popular and private sources, Karen Westerfield Tucker investigates the various rites and seasons of worship in Methodism and examines them in relation to American society.

Excerpt

Methodism, it has often been asserted, is the quintessential American denomination. Yet the story of its worship life—an important descriptor for any religious body—has never been (fully) told. It may be that, as long as (international) liturgical scholarship limited itself to the study of service books, the texts of Methodism as a derivative branch of Anglicanism were not considered particularly interesting. in addition, liturgical historians and theologians, until recently, have hailed from Europe, where Methodism is proportionally quite small and therefore seen as a minor denomination—and hence not worthy of serious or sustained investigation. the development of a school of North American liturgical scholarship, and particularly the training of North American Protestant liturgical scholars, is now encouraging the study of largely heretofore overlooked Protestant liturgical traditions that have flourished on this side of the Atlantic. Historians of American culture, for their part, have generally shied away from dealing with the overtly theological dimensions of a people gathering to pray; even within Methodist studies, worship and its doctrinal implications have been largely neglected, save for the camp meeting and revivalism. Yet liturgists have now started to move “beyond the text” in an effort to understand the tacit and informal dimensions of worship practices in their social, cultural, and ecclesial settings. and students of domestic culture, as well now as exotic, have begun to set considerable store by ritual and cult as revelatory of a community's beliefs and development. Therefore, the time appears ripe for an examination of worship in the American Methodist tradition that will both make an insider's contribution to cultural history and provide for liturgiology the case study of a church that has always known its worship of God to be unconfined by written directions or prayers. This is what is attempted here.

At the outset, the phrase “American Methodist” used in this study must be clarified. the term here refers to those churches that considered themselves to be inheritors of the theology and practices of the eighteenth-century evangelical Anglican John Wesley, and as testimony to that affiliation, adopted “Methodist” or . . .

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