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Maranatha!

CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE

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What is the Church of the Nazarene?

 

Church of the Nazarene
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Founded: 1908
Membership: 627,054 in 5,101 congregations (1998)

The Church of the Nazarene is one of the largest and most influential of the Holiness bodies, and it is one that has self-consciously held to its Wesleyan roots. The church resulted from the merger of three independent Holiness groups already in existence in the U.S. In 1907, an eastern Holiness body, the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America, located principally in New York and New England, joined with a California body, the Church of the Nazarene. The two churches agreed on the name "Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene." Then in 1908, this body merged with a Southern group known as the Holiness Church of Christ. By 1919, the word Pentecostal had acquired a different connotation, and the church removed it from the name. While many were involved in the founding of the church, perhaps the principal figure was Phineas F. Bresee (1838-1916), who became its first general superintendent.

The church's theological background is Wesleyan. Four of the first five general superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene, including Bresee, were former Methodist ministers, and the church's Manual is similar to the Methodist Book of Discipline.

The doctrine of the church is built around the justification and the sanctification of the believers by faith. This includes a believer's entire sanctification as a second work of grace, subsequent to regeneration. All clergy, both men and women, and local church officials must profess this experience of entire sanctification. Other doctrines include belief in the plenary inspiration of the scriptures as containing all truths necessary to Christian faith and living; the atonement of Christ for the whole human race (i.e., Arminianism); the justification, regeneration, and adoption of all penitent believers in Christ; the Second Coming of Christ; the resurrection of the dead; and the final judgment.

Members believe in divine healing but never to the exclusion of medical agencies. The use of tobacco and alcoholic beverages is denounced. Two sacraments, baptism by sprinkling, pouring, or (most often) immersion and Communion are accepted as "instituted by Christ." Baptism of young children is allowed, but believer's baptism predominates.

Pastors are called by local churches; each district is supervised by a district superintendent, who may be elected for a four-year term by the members of the District Assembly. The General Assembly, the highest body of the church, elects six general superintendents whose terms last until the next General Assembly, and the General Board, consisting of an equal number of lay and clergy members. The General Board meets annually and oversees the five administrative divisions of the church: World Mission, Church Growth, Sunday School Ministries, Communications, and Finance. The church is organized in 109 world areas and supports some 600 missionaries. There is strong emphasis on evangelism. The church's International Center is located in Kansas City, Missouri.

Worldwide, the church supports ten liberal arts colleges, two graduate theological seminaries, and forty-three Bible colleges. Outside North America, the church operates two hospitals, thirty-eight medical clinics, three nurse training colleges, one teacher training college, one junior college, and 430 primary and secondary schools that serve over 51,000 children. The books, periodicals, and curriculum of the church are produced at the Nazarene Publishing House in Kansas City.

For history, background and other information on the Church of the Nazareneclick here to go to the official Church of the Nazarene web site.

What are the beliefs of the Church of the Nazarene?

Click here to go to the Church of the Nazarene "Articles of Faith"