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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Wake Forest celebrates 58th annual Lovefeast

Students join in prayer and fellowship in Wait Chapel
James Watson
Students, faculty and Winston-Salem community members gather in Wait Chapel for the annual Lovefeast.

Wake Forest hosted its annual Lovefeast in Wait Chapel on Sunday, Dec. 3. 

The tradition, which is rooted in Moravian values of love and fellowship, began in 1965 when Moravian student Jane Sherril Stroupe (‘67) organized the first Wake Forest Lovefeast. Fifty-eight years later, Lovefeast is one of Wake Forest’s signature events. 

For the first time, University Events offered their logistical expertise to help with Lovefeast, organizing volunteers to serve the traditional Lovefeast meal — a sweetened bun and coffee — and guide attendees to open seating. The event also featured performances from Wake Forest Choirs, organist Susan Bates, the Silver Wind Flute Choir, the WFU String Quartet and the Carolina Brass Band. 

The service began with opening remarks from the university’s Chaplain, Dr. Timothy Auman, who said that given the ongoing Israel-Hamas War Lovefeast took on increased importance. 

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“Tonight, all of our shoulders are heavy with sadness, grief and perhaps even rage, as one collective trauma after another spans the globe” Auman said. “In addition to our own personal struggles, we are also perpetrators and victims of a series of unprecedented global and political crises, with many painful decisions yet to be made.” 

Dean of the Divinity School Dr. Corey D.B. Walker led the call to worship, conveying a timeless message about the nature of love and its transcendence beyond good and evil. 

“To love is to deal with another person beyond all that is good and beyond all that is evil” Walker said. 

Lovefeast marks the beginning of Advent, derived from the Latin word “Adventus,” meaning coming or arrival. Advent season is focused on preparing for the arrival of Christ in Christian denominations. The ceremonial Advent candle was lit by Wake Forest senior Mac Jackson (‘24). The partaking of the Lovefeast was accompanied by a hymn from the Wake Forest University Chamber and Concert Choirs, “Estampie Natalis.” At the conclusion of the ceremony, students, faculty and alumni joined in lighting candles and singing “Silent Night.” 

“In sharing the candlelight, we are reminded to share our light and inner radiance for the betterment of the world,” Associate University Chaplain for Spiritual Formation Elizabeth Orr said. “I think the beauty, talents and great wisdom of humanity are revealed. We are reminded that a community can care for one another, share in what we have and meet one another’s very human needs.”

Be stubborn and audacious with your hopefulness in our shared capacity to build a brighter, more compassionate future.”

— Elizabeth Orr, Associate University Chaplain for Spiritual Formation

Each year, the Office of the Chaplain works to put on Lovefeast, from ordering the candles and food to decorating Wait Chapel and writing original poems and prayers to be read during the service.

Throughout the service, prayers and hymns emphasized the value of fellowship.

“[Demon Deacons] truly value the opportunity to connect with one another — the relationships forged here on campus are life-long relationships that see us through different seasons of our lives,” Orr said. “Even when things feel chaotic and uncertain, the simple act of connecting can help anchor us through the chaos.”

According to Auman, Lovefeast is unique because of its ability to transcend differences. The service fosters a sense of unity and connection among a diverse range of individuals.

 “Love is the universal language of people,” Auman said. “Regardless of our philosophical or religious orientation, it is through love that we establish meaning in our lives. We need to elevate our love for each other in the face of our diversity and complexity.”

 Freshman Gracyn Pisa said that Lovefeast reminded her that Wake Forest’s community is a strong one. 

“Seeing my friends perform in the choir, connecting with alumni and lighting each other’s candles were all reminders of the very strong, tight-knit community that we have at Wake Forest,” Pisa said.

Auman expressed that Lovefeast can also provide a peaceful and healing space for students.

“I think for students preparing for final exams, it gives them the opportunity to take a breath and step away from the stress,” Auman said. “People come to Lovefeast sometimes carrying the loss of a family member or friend. The Lovefeast provides some solace to those people who are overcoming grief in their lives. The healing nature of Lovefeast is something I really cherish.”

The Office of the Chaplain also uses Lovefeast as an opportunity to acquire donations for the Chaplain’s Emergency Fund, which is almost exclusively funded by donors. The Chaplain’s Emergency Fund provides financial assistance to Wake Forest University faculty, staff and contract workers in times of disaster, personal emergencies or unanticipated financial hardships.

Although Wake Forest has undergone several institutional changes since the beginning of Lovefeast, the tradition’s essence has remained unchanged, and participants can use it as an opportunity to look toward the future.

Be stubborn and audacious with your hopefulness in our shared capacity to build a brighter, more compassionate future,” Orr said.

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