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Inglesia del Nazareno Communidad de la Esperanza



A Brief History of the Church of the Nazarene


In the 1730's a vibrant evangelical revival arose in Britain, directed chiefly by John Wesley, Charles Wesley, and George Whitfield. Many turned from sin and were empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve God. This movement was characterized by lay preaching, testimony, discipline, and small group meetings. The revival was characterized by three theological landmarks:


* Regeneration for all by grace through faith.


* Sanctification from all sin by the Holy Spirit.


* Witness of the Spirit to the assurance of grace.


In the 19th century a renewed emphasis on Christian holiness began in the Eastern United States and spread throughout the nation. This holiness revival spilled outside the bounds of Methodism. Charles G. Finney and Asa Mahan led the renewed emphasis on holiness in Presbyterian and Congregationalist circles. Baptist evangelist A. B. Earle was among the leaders of the holiness movement within his denomination. Holiness camp meetings sprang up throughout the united states.


The witness to Christian holiness played roles in the founding of the Wesleyan Methodist Church (1843), the Free Methodist Church (1860) and, the Salvation Army (1865). In the 1880's, new, distinctively holiness churches sprang into existence, including the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.) and the Church of God (Holiness). In the 1890's another wave of independent holiness groups came into being. Some of the people involved in these organizations longed to be united into a national holiness church. Out of that impulse for a holiness denomination the Church of the Nazarene was born. In October 1895, Phineas F. Bresee organized the Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles, California.


The Association of Pentecostal Churches of America, the Church of the Nazarene, and the Holiness Church of Christ were joined together in 1907-1908. The merging groups agreed upon a church government that balanced the need for a superintendency with the independence of local congregations. Superintendents were to care for established churches and were to organize new churches everywhere, but their authority was not to interfere with the independent actions of established churches.


After 1908 various other bodies united with the Church of the Nazarene:


* The Pentecostal Mission - 1915

* Pentecostal Church of Scotland - 1915

* Laymen's Holiness Association - 1922

* International Holiness Mission - 1952

* Calvary Holiness Church - 1955

* Gospel Workers Church of Canada - 1958


From its beginning the Church of the Nazarene had an inter-national dimension. With 662 missionaries, the church has entered a total over 90 world areas. As of 1997 the Church of the Nazarene had an international membership of over one million (1,254,315) distributed in over 12,134 congregations.



Our Nazarene Heritage


There should be no stigma attached to the desire to produce loyal Nazarenes. A part of our business is to foster an understanding of who we are, what we believe and what our mission is as Nazarene Christians. Getting people into the Kingdom, introducing them to Jesus Christ as Savior, leading them into the sanctifying work of God's Spirit is our primary mission. However, our assignment is not complete until we teach our people the essentials of what it means to be a Christian who is also a Nazarene. If the church is to endure, our distinctive doctrines and spirit must be transmitted to new Nazarenes, to our children, and to our children's children.


The first element of our heritage is loyalty to the Word of God. Nazarenes accept the Scriptures as the ultimate authority of truth and seek to live their lives in accordance with them. Theological affirmations are to be judged by their adherence to the clear teachings of the Bible. Any doctrinal view contrary to the clear teachings of the Scriptures must not be made an article of faith. On issues not clearly delineated in Scriptures Dr. Bresee used to say, "In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things charity." Our view of Scripture is not rationalistic, legalistic, or dogmatic. We do not unchristianize those who differ with us, nor access their spirituality in a judgmental manner. In matters not essential to salvation, we permit liberty, with regard to those doctrinal affirmations that are in our view essential to salvation, we require adherence of all who would become a part of our fellowship as Nazarenes.


The second aspect of our heritage is our emphasis on the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. We believe that sanctification, which results in holy living, is a divine act and process of moral and spiritual renewal beginning with regeneration and continuing to the final moment of our glorification. We also believe that within the process of the believer's renewal in the image of God, there is a distinct identifiable moment when one can be cleansed from inner depravity or iniquity, from the spirit of self-sovereignty which rivals the lordship of Christ. This moment comes on the conditions of full consecration and faith. This grace of heart cleansing includes the impulse to grow in grace. This impulse to grow must be nurtured so that the Christian continues to progress and mature in the things of God.


Third, the Church of the Nazarene has been blessed with strong biblical preaching. This is an indispensable part of our tradition. The kind of preaching that is the focal point of our worship has been preaching with a firm biblical base, that has addressed the felt needs of real people. Effective preaching requires study, and is fueled by a desire to learn. Thus, the Church of the Nazarene has insisted on a trained ministry. Wherever the church has been planted, we have established schools to equip our people to do works of Christian service.


Four, spontaneity and praise in spirited music with a sound spiritual message have characterized the church. In place of anthems and liturgical hymns, we have on the whole sung gospel songs and choruses magnifying God's grace in our lives. The music that has become so vitally a part of our heritage has exalted a holy God, lifted the name of Jesus, and become a means of worshiping in the beauty of holiness by the power of the Spirit.


Five, from the beginning, the Church of the Nazarene has agreed on a representative form of government. The members of the congregation call a pastor, elect an Administrative and a Ministry Board, and vote on buying and selling property. Elections are held annually.


The Administrative and Ministry Boards are responsible to work with the Pastor towards implementing the mission of the Church, establishing and monitoring the Church budget, and making policy decisions for the church. Both Boards meet monthly.


The Pastor is the Chief Executive Officer of the Church, Chairman of the Administrative Board, Mission Director, and spiritual leader for the Church. The Pastor has ex officio oversight over all departments of the Church (423.8, 423.22) and all church staff and their responsibilities (161.3, 423.18).  This division of responsibilities promotes involvement and participation at every level.

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