1908 Church of the Nazarene

I. Group Profile

  1. Name: Church of the Nazarene


  2. Founder: Phineas Bresee


  3. Date of Birth: December 31, 1838; Died November 13, 1915


  4. Birth Place: Franklin, New York


  5. Year Founded: 1908 Pilot Point, Texas
  6. Sacred or Revered Texts: The Bible and the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene (http://www.nazarene.org/who.html#Intro)
  7. Cult or Sect: Negative sentiments are typically implied when the concepts "cult" and "sect" are employed in popular discourse. Since the Religious Movements Homepage seeks to promote religious tolerance and appreciation of the positive benefits of pluralism and religious diversity in human cultures, we encourage the use of alternative concepts that do not carry implicit negative stereotypes. For a more detailed discussion of both scholarly and popular usage of the concepts "cult" and "sect," please visit our Conceptualizing "Cult" and "Sect" page, where you will find additional links to related issues.


  8. Size of Group: Membership in the Church of the Nazarene includes 11,857 organized churches with 1,216,657 members worldwide.Membership in the Nazarene World Mission Society includes 677,999 members.(http://www.nazarene.org/who.html#Intro)


II. History

The Church of the Nazarene is part of the Holiness Movement which has its origin in the Methodist concern with perfectionism. The Holiness Movement grew rapidly among Methodists following the Civil War. As the nineteenth century drew to a close, schism beset the movement and many new denominations were formed (Melton,76-77).

Phineas Bresee began his pastoral career as the minister of First Methodist Church in Los Angeles. He assumed responsibilities as the director of Penial Missions within the church.

With the arrival ofthe Holiness Movement, Bresee began to feel a sense of doubt and dissatisfaction while in the Methodist Church. He questioned whether Methodism had helped him to answer the questions of destiny and God. From this doubt, Bresee decided to build a system of beliefs based on Faith, Revelation, Atonement, New Birth, and Destiny that would answer his questions and develop his personal Christian beliefs. Bresee assured himself that these beliefs were true, and with this new system of beliefs, he sought a renewed religious experience with God. Soon he became Baptized in the Holy Spirit which "took away his tendencies to worldliness, anger, and pride" as well as doubt (Smith, 94).

Not long thereafter, Bresee became the director of the mission for Penial Church. In this role, he sought a plan that would allow him to minister to all people, regardless of their religious denomination. He wanted people to make the Penial Mission and the First Methodist Church their Christian home.

Many Methodist clergy did not agree with integration of their traditional Methodist Church. They objected to ministering to poor, and non-Methodists. Bresee did not want to deprive the poor of church membership because he believed that his purpose as a minister was to help sanctify all members of the community, including the poor.

Bresee refused to alter his integrationplans, which resulted in high tensions with the Methodist authorities.He soon found himself "frozen out" or excluded from the church missionary work (Smith, 109). At this point, Bresee realized that the only way he could pursue his calling from God and minister to the misfortunate was to create his own church.

Bresee created the Church of the Nazarene based strongly on Methodist fundamentals. The development of the Church of the Nazarene revealed "a trend away from interdenominational associations toward a more denominational understanding of the [Holiness] movement, and away from extreme congregationalism toward a connectional conception of the church that owed much to Methodism" (Ahlstrom, 819).The church became glorified in the fact that it was free to all men and in that the members received a "second blessing" after they became sanctified (Ahlstrom, 819).

The Church of the Nazarene has undergone a few changes since its beginning. In 1885 after being separated for the First Methodist Church and Penial Mission for a year, Bresee formed the First Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles, California. In 1907, the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America and the Church of the Nazarene joined to form the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. On October 13, 1908, the Holiness Church of Christ united with the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene which signifies the official founding of the Church of the Nazarene. In 1919, the term "Pentecostal" was dropped from the church name to separate the church from those sects that accepted "speaking in tongues" (Melton, 345).

III. Beliefs of the Group

    The Church of the Nazarene uses Wesleyan-Arminian theological doctrine and practices as its basis. Nazarenes use doctrine, articles of religion, and general rules established by Methodist founder John Wesley (Melton, 345, http://www.nazarene.org/who.html#Intro). Nazarenes believe that "God calls Christians to a life of holy living that is marked by an act of God, cleansing the heart from original sin and filling the individual with love for God and humankind."(http://www.nazarene.org/who.html#Intro). The common mission is: "to show that Jesus Christ is relevant in every aspect of one's life, to demonstrate that God's Word, the Bible, will guide each person to answers they need today, and to live as a reflection of Jesus Christ and God's holiness" Mission of the Church of the Nazarene

    The Church of the Nazarene has sixteen Articles of Faith that are used to guide its members. Those are as follows: "Triune God, Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, the Holy Scriptures, Sin-Original and Personal, Atonement, Free Agency, Repentance, Justification- Regeneration- Adoption, Entire Sanctification, the Church, Baptism, The Lord's Supper, Divine Healing, the Second Coming of Christ, Resurrection- Judgment- and Destiny." Their emphasis is on "justification, regeneration, and the personal salvation or holiness of the believer." Consult Who is the Church of the Nazarene

    Nazarenes also hold general and specific rules. The general rules are:doing the enjoined in God's Word, avoiding every kind of evil, and abiding in fellowship with the church. Specific rules pertain to living a Christian life, marriage and divorce, abortion, human sexuality, and Christian stewardship. Consult Articles of Faith and Rules of the Church of the Nazarene
    or Articles of Faith with Frames



IV.Governing Body of the Church of the Nazarene

    A representative government is the governing body of the Church of the Nazarene. The General Assembly is composed of ministerial and lay elected officials and is the highest law-making body within the church. The General Assembly duties include administration of the worldwide work to the church and interpretation of the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene . The General Assembly elects the General Board which is responsible for corporate business and oversees the General Assembly in matters of missions, education, and evangelism. The General Board is comprised to officials elected from the denominational districts and hold final authority on all matters. The lowest level of government is the District Assembly. The District Assembly, comprised of district superintendents, supervises local churches and ministers (Melton, 345, (http://www.nazarene.org/who.html#Intro). Membership in the Church of the Nazarene includes 11,857 organized churches with 1,216,657 members worldwide.Membership in the Nazarene World Misssion Society includes 677,999 members. (http://www.nazarene.org/who.html#Intro)

SOURCE: Religious Movements
The information on this page was taken from the Religious Movements website & edited.  For the complete information click on the link above to Religious Movements.  We felt that this information is of such great importance that we made the decision to copy an edited format rather than chance losing it as a results of a broken link or a change of URL.





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