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Loyalist Exiles (1784-1799)

The Hay Bay Chapel's Love Feast Table

Hay Bay’s Love Feast Table

18th Century "Love Feast” table used at the Hay Bay Methodist Meeting House

A plain but “relatively sophisticated” table was once used as a “Love Feast” or communion table at the Hay Bay Methodist Meeting House, built on the south shore of Hay Bay in 1792. Love Feasts were held on a quarterly basis. For these occasions, a table was brought by a member of the congregation and then taken home afterward. In the early period, permanent baptismal fonts or communion tables were rare in Methodist Churches. DISCOVER MOREReadmore Arrow

The table originally had pieces across each end of the top to prevent warping. The top, one solid piece, nearly an inch thick, now has a slight warp. The basswood legs end in pad feet. The table is constructed with mortise and tenon joints. This style of table was popular between about 1720 – 1750 in the American colonies, often finished in red paint to resemble cherry.

The Hay Bay Meeting House was the first Methodist church to be built west of the Atlantic Provinces. In January 1790, the Reverend William Losee came to Adolphustown under the New York Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He preached in the homes of the settlers and at the tavern of Conrad Vandusen. A class was organized at Paul Huff’s on the south shore of the Bay and within a year, 22 people had pledged to build a church on land donated by Huff.

The earliest reference to a quarterly meeting at the Hay Bay Church was published in the Methodist Magazine (Philadelphia) 1798. The Reverend Samuel Coates reported that “at our quarterly-meeting at Adolphus-town meetinghouse, the flame burst forth... On Saturday night and on the Sabbath, there were mighty breakings forth of the power of the Highest. I cannot justly assess the number that were blessed, but it was considerable.”

In 1811, Bishop Asbury visited Canada, where he was joined by two Canadian preachers, Henry Ryan and Edward Cooper. On Tuesday July 9th, Asbury preached at Kingston but inflammatory rheumatism prevented him from travelling to Adolphustown. Cooper and Ryan attended quarterly meetings on the north shore of Hay Bay, and then, on July 13th preached to a large gathering at the Hay Bay Metting House:

On the Lord’s day, we had a glorious love-feast and at the Lord’s supper
Jesus was made known to us in the breaking of bread. In a beautiful grove,
under the shade of trees, planted by God’s own hand, I preached to two thousand
people. John Reynolds and Henry Ryan exhorted. The sparks flew and the fire fell.

This table, or one similar, may have been used on both these occasions. Provenance links the table to the Reverend Matthew E. Wilson who had served several Methodist Circuits in the Bay of Quinte area. In addition to the Love Feast Table, an early collection box from the church also survives today.

Submitted on behalf of the Old Hay Bay Church

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