United Methodist Church congregations around the world prepare for the 250 year old Methodist Covenant Service following their Wesleyan tradition this January, the United Methodist Church reported, Jan. 28.
"Christ has many services to be done; some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honor, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet the power to do all these things is given us in Christ, who strengthens us …,” are the words that mark the covenant service.
John Wesley, the movement’s founder, began the service as a way to renew his “covenant” with God. The first formal covenant service was held in 1755 at the French Church in the Spitalfields area of east London.
Wesley’s account on the event is as follows:
"I mentioned to the congregation another means of increasing serious religion which had been frequently practiced by our forefathers, namely, the joining in a covenant to serve God with all our heart and with all our soul. I explained this for several mornings, and on Friday, many of us kept a fast to the Lord, beseeching him to give us wisdom and strength, to make a promise unto the Lord our God and keep it.
"On Monday...I explained once more the nature of such an engagement and the manner of doing it acceptably to God.
"At six in the evening we met for that purpose. After I had recited the tenor of the covenant proposed, all those who desired to give testimony of their entrance into this covenant stood up, to the number of about 1,800 persons. Such a night I scarce ever saw before. Surely the fruit of it shall remain forever."