It was on a December evening in 1963 that the first Lovefeast was held at UNCG. Two Winston-Salem students, Phyllis Snyder Bargoil (class of 1964) and Almeda Tesh Dalton (class of 1965) invited their hometown pastor, the Rev. Thomas Presley, to Greensboro to lead the celebration. Almeda's father made the wooden serving trays which were used in the UNCG service until at least the early 1980s.
Twenty-eight people attended this first gathering, including Dean of Students Katherine Taylor, who encouraged the students to plan another Lovefeast the following year. Rev. Presley returned the following year to lead the Lovefeast, which quickly grew in popularity. Around 1967, the Lovefeast expanded from a single night to two nights of services. Eventually tickets were required (at no charge) to control the number of worshipers who attended each evening's service. By 1977, three nights of services were held in order to accommodate the crowd. It was estimated that the 1985 Lovefeast services drew over 600 attendees.
One of the central activities during the UNCG (or any) Lovefeast was the breaking of bread, signifying the union and equality of the worshipers. In the UNCG services, this included the sharing of traditional Lovefeast buns and coffee. Female servers would distribute the buns, while male servers carried trays of coffee. A Moravian blessing was said and worshipers would eat while the choir performed. The December 11, 1974 service, for example, featured a performance by the University Women's Choir of "Gloria," arranged by Benjamin Britten.
luminaries display, which typically occurred soon after the Lovefeast.
The last reference found in University Archives to a campus-sponsored Moravian Lovefeast is found in the 1986 Pine Needles yearbook. In reference to the services held in December 1985, the article notes, "fighting against outside claims that the feast - in its presentation of a Christian message and hymns - violated the spirit of the separation of church and state, administration members asked those delivering the 'message' at the two nights of ceremonies to look for a more 'universal focus' in what they said." Rev. Ron Moss of the Wesley-Luther House and Father Jack Campbell of the University Catholic Center led those services.
The Pine Needles article concludes with a quote from a student attendee, who left from the Lovefeast to study for final exams in the library. "When I came to the Festival I thought it would just be a social or something - or maybe a church service. But it wasn't. It was just a lot of people getting together to enjoy something beautiful. Sure, I heard people talking about how it was wrong, and how it violated students' rights, but I can't help but think that something as beautiful as that was couldn't have done anything but helped."