Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Other Interesting General Assembly Action

There were a couple of other resolutions that passed that were quite interesting.

The General Assembly (amended and) passed a resolution from the Reference Committee, Kansas City District, Washington Pacific District and Wisconsin District Resolutions Committees on "Gender Inclusive Language." - It reads as follows:

". . . The Church of the Nazarene affirms and encourages the use of gender inclusive language in reference to persons. Publications, including the Manual and public language should reflect this commitment to gender equality as expressed in paragraph . . ." (The amendment made it clear that changes in the Manual would not include changes in Scripture quotations or in reference to God.

A second, and more lengthy resolution from the Reference Committee, East Ohio District General Assembly Delegation, Eurasia Regional Advisory Council and USA/Canada Mission/Evangelism Department (which I will not reproduce, here) focused on Christian Compassion and its connection with the holy life. - It was adopted by the Assembly, as well.

One to watch for, tomorrow, comes from the USA/Canada Mission/Evangelism Department and focuses on "Working with Immigrants." It supports ministering to and assisting immigrant regardless of their legal status, etc.

Merger Resolution: Amended & Adopted!

Readers of this blog will recall my nine resolutions to the General Assembly, six of which were adopted by my district's delegation and sent on to the General Assembly. Among those six was one that called for the General Superintendents to put together a committee that would seek to explore the possibility of merger with The Wesleyan Church, as well as the Free Methodist Church. - That resolution can be read, here.

While I do not have the exact wording of the amendment (they took it off of the screen to quickly!), the amendment basically took out specific reference to The Wesleyan & Free Methodist churches and replaced it with something like "other likeminded Wesleyan-holiness denominations." While retaining "merger" language, it ended with something like "or increased collaboration," or something like that.

There are a number of good points in this action to be thankful for: First, the committee, and then the Assembly, responded overwhelmingly positively to the resolution (as amended). Second, it positions the Church of the Nazarene as a leader in trying to bring together the Wesleyan-holiness denominations into one Wesleyan-holiness church. Third, it looks beyond just the two denominations that I named. - This could make a real, significant difference for the Church of the Nazarene and the Wesleyan-holiness movement.

There are a couple of possible concerns, as well: One, that without specific denominations named, the committee could become much more general in the way that they approach other "likeminded" denominations. Second, the committee could lean more towards the collaboration than the merger concept. Additionally, there are some Wesleyan-holiness denominations that we have less in common with (i.e., those that do not share our specifically Methodist heritage), like the Church of God (Anderson), that could lead us further away from our heritage, rather than solidifying it.

However, even with those "possible concerns," with the amendment, I am quite pleased that the Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the resolution, and I am thankful for the opportunity to influence our denomination in this way.

May God receive the glory!

He Says "Yes" This Time

Four years ago, the Rev'd. Dr. John Bowling, President of Olivet Nazarene University, was elected to the episcopal office of General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. - He responded by asking for some time to pray for discernment. - When he returned, he declined the position.
This year, Dr. Bowling was, once again, elected to the position of General Superintendent, and, once again, he asked to have the afternoon break to pray before giving an answer. - However, when during the evening session, Dr. Bowling accepted the office, sensing God nudging him in a new direction. Thus, John Bowling has become our denominations 39th General Superintendent. - May God's blessings be upon him!
One more to go!


History has been made in the Church of the Nazarene! The General Assembly has elected our first General Superintendent born outside of the United States! (Well, actually, such is what was being reported at the G.A., but there were two prior; one from Canada & one from Scotland? - cf., comments & thanks for the correction!).
The Rev'd. Dr. Eugenio Duarte was born in the Cape Verde Islands, and comes to the episcopal office of General Superintendent from the position of Regional Director of the Africa Region!
More information about our newest General Superintendent can be found here and here.
More news to come! - For now . . . Praise be to God!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

General Assembly Bound

Just a quick note to say that we are heading to General Assembly tomorrow; bright and early!

I have recently found out that I should have Internet access while there (I previously did not think that I would). Hopefully, that will mean that I will have some blogging to do next week! - While I will not get to stay for the entire Assembly, I hope to be there to find out what happens with a number of resolutions that readers of this blog may be interested in.

However, keep in mind, this is my first attempt at blogging while on a trip like this. So, if you don't hear from me next week, you can assume that I was wrong about my Internet access!

Please keep the Assembly in your prayers. There are many important decisions to take place next week.

May God bless the Church of the Nazarene and our General Assembly!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Following the Nazarene General Assembly

The Nazarene Communications Network is reporting the following concerning how one can keep up with what is going on at General Assembly:
"Articles, updates, and photos will be available at www.ncnnews.com throughout the event. You can follow our news and updates at Twitter.com/ncnnews and discuss your General Assembly experience with hundred of other NCN News readers on our Facebook page."
In addition, as I have mentioned before, there will be at least a few items that I will blog about. However, due to the circumstances of travel, my comments may not be up-to-the-minute (i.e., they may be a bit late!).
The 27th General Assembly and Conventions will take place June 24 - July 2 in Orlando, FL.

New Websites for the ACNA

From June 22 - 25, those representing the Common Cause Partners will gather and a new ecclesial entity will be born: The Anglican Church in North America. This new province will seek to represent authentic, orthodox, Anglican Christianity in North America.

With the gathering, the ACNA will be launching new and updated websites; one, the purpose of which will be to cover the Inaugural Assembly ( www.acnaassembly.org ), the other will be the new province's new website (replacing the Common Cause website). - You can read about the new websites, here.

While I would like to cover the Assembly, I do not know how much opportunity I will have. My own denomination's General Assembly will be taking me out of town, next week. If I am able to gain access to my blog (and if I have time!), I will want to cover the business of our Assembly: the election of three new General Superintendents (i.e., bishops), and several resolutions, including the six of mine that have made it to the G.A.

But not to fear! Those who want to follow the ACNA Inaugural Assembly can do so at www.acnaassembly.org !

I would encourage the readers of Wesleyan/Anglican to be in prayer for the newly forming ACNA. North American surely needs a better representation of "Wesley's Church" than has been provided in recent years by The Episcopal Church. - May God grant that the new ACNA will prove to be a much better representation, for the glory of God.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Birthday Celebration!

Just a quick note to say, "Happy 306th Birthday" to John Wesley! - Wesley was born on June 17, 1703 to the Rev'd. Samuel & Susanna Wesley. He was either the 13th or 14th of their children; no one is quite sure. In any case, he was only the seventh to survive the first year of life. Oddly, he was the third Wesley child to be named "John" (the previous two had died). (cf. The Elusive Mr. Wesley, Vol. 1, Heitzenrater).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This past Sunday the Church celebrated Trinity Sunday. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is one of the mysteries of faith, but the Church, from ancient times, has confessed its faith in the Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

My own denomination is no exception to the orthodox Christian faith. Our very first Article of Faith confesses our belief in the Triune God. Additionally, in our Manual's "Historical Statement," we state that the Church of the Nazarene ". . . receives the ecumenical creeds of the first five Christian centuries as expressions of its own faith." Along side the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed, we find that creed which John Wesley identifies as the best explication of the Trinity he ever saw (cf., his sermon "On the Trinity"), that is the so called Athanasian Creed (or Quicunque Vult) written, most likely within the fifth-century.

The words at the beginning and conclusion of the creed tying the necessity of assent to this faith with salvation have caused much difficulty for many. However, according to Ray Dunning, "Edmund J. Fortman says that it is not suggesting that the 'Catholic faith' is merely an intellectual assent but rather that it involves the 'worship of one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity'" (Grace, Faith and Holiness, 226). Wesley, himself, said, "I am far from saying, he who does not assent to this 'shall without doubt perish everlastingly.' For the sake of that an another clause, I, for some time, scrupled subscribing to that creed; till I considered,(1.) That these sentences only relate to wilful, not involuntary, unbelievers; to those who, having all the means of knowing the truth, nevertheless obstinately reject it: (2.) That they relate only to the substance of the doctrine there delivered; not the philosophical illustrations of it" ("On the Trinity"). - Whether one still has trouble with those lines, even after Fortman's and Wesley's explanation, the Athanasius Creed is still a wonderfully thorough confession of Trinitarian faith.

Although, it has been said that it is far too long for liturgical use, I do know at least one Lutheran pastor whose congregation uses it every Trinity Sunday (and I'm sure they are not alone).

I strongly encourage those who are unfamiliar with the creed to read it by clicking, here. (Sorry, it's a bit too long for me to reproduce on my blog.)

Please join me in this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, on God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Bishop Ole E. Borgen's Homegoing

Though the news is late, I just learned of the death of Bishop Ole E. Borgen on March 24, 2009. It was reported in this month's "First Friday Letter" of the General Secretary of the World Methodist Council. (You read the entire letter at by clicking here.)

Bishop Borgen was born in Norway, educated in the United States, and returned to become the Bishop's assistant in Sweden, later becoming the Geneva Secretary for the World Methodist Council. In 1970 he was elected Bishop of the Northern Europe Central Conference of the United Methodist Church, a position he held for 19 years before retiring in 1979. While an active Bishop, he was elected the first non-American President of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church. A collector of Wesley literature, his private collections are now accessible in Tallinn, Estonia and Oslo, Norway. His life and ministry helped to shape the direction of the Church and of the World Methodist Council.

Of great significance to the readers of this blog, and the reason that the Bishop's death caught my eye, is the fact that he is the author of John Wesley on the Sacraments: A Definitive Study of John Wesley's Theology of Worship. - This book has been a huge gift to those of us who claim the Wesleyan sacramental tradition. The Bishop's book was recommended to me by my seminary professor of theology, the Rev'd. Dr. Rob L. Staples, whose own book, Outward Sign and Inward Grace: The Place of Sacraments in Wesleyan Spirituality is one of my absolute favorite books and an absolute must read for Nazarene clergy and other clergy in the larger Wesleyan tradition. (Staple's book is the only theology of the sacraments written from within the Wesleyan-holiness wing of the larger Methodist tradition.)

We have been enriched by Bishop Borgen, and for that we give thanks to God!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pentecost Sunday

This past Sunday the Church celebrated the culmination of the great fifty days, the conclusion of the Easter season, the outpouring of the promise of the Father, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and the birth of the Church. - John the Baptizer had declared concerning Jesus, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Luke 3:16, NRSV).

Jesus assured the disciples that it would be to their advantage that He would ascend to the Father, because, in doing so, He would send the Holy Spirit (the Advocate/Comforter/Counselor/Helper - parakletos ) to them (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit would teach them everything and remind them of all that Jesus had said to them (14:26), and the Holy Spirit would "prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement (16:8).

Further, Jesus told the apostles, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8, NRSV).

On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples saw the fulfillment of the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit as told by John the Baptizer and the Lord Jesus, as well as the prophet Joel.

It is that same outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we enter into by faith and through our baptism, for St. Paul declares, "For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . ." (1 Cor. 12:13, NRSV).*

Pentecost is one of the major feast days of the Church, and it should be a great day of celebration for those of us in the Wesleyan/Holiness tradition. - I recall a conversation a number of years back with a Presbyterian (USA) pastor. He confessed, he really didn't know what to do with Pentecost. Now, I do not mean to imply that such is the case for all, or even a majority of Presbyterians. I don't know. However, Nazarenes, whether espousing a 19th century or a classical Wesleyan view (cf. footnote, below) ought to have no problem knowing how to celebrate Pentecost Sunday.

You see, one of the main benefits of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the possibility of having our hearts cleansed of sin. - As the prophet Ezekiel foretold, there was coming a day when God would ". . . sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statures and be careful to observe my ordinances" (Ezek. 36:25-27, NRSV). And St. Peter, referring to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the gentiles, argued, "And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us" (Acts 15:8-9).

It is this heart cleansing that has been at the heart (no pun intended!) of the Wesleyan & Methodist movement, and especially so for the Holiness branches of Methodism. It has been referred to by Wesley in connection with the Biblical doctrines of Entire Sanctification and Christian Perfection. In fact, the spread of scriptural holiness throughout the land was the stated purpose of Methodism, first by John Wesley in London in 1733, and then in America, at the famous Christmas Conference in Baltimore in 1784 at the founding of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was the commitment to this purpose that gave rise to the 19th century Holiness Movement within Methodism. And Phineas Bresee said of the Church of the Nazarene, that it is ". . . a part of that body of believers raised up to spread sanctified holiness over these lands, and thus that we are a part of that company who are the real successors of John Wesley and the early Methodists" (Nazarene Messenger, July 15, 1909).

And so, we Wesleyan Christians have special reasons for joining with our sisters and brother in Christ around the world to rejoice and give thanks to God on Pentecost Sunday for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we seek to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.

*At this point, those within the Holiness movement will recognize that I take my stand with John Wesley, the Church of history, and those in the classical Wesleyan theological tradition, rather than those who are more consistent with 19th century interpretations. Those debates within the Holiness Movement can be seen in The Wesleyan Theological Journal between 1973 and 1982. Mark Quanstrom discusses it in A Century of Holiness Theology: The Doctrine of Entire Sanctification in the Church of the Nazarene, 1905-2004, though his bias toward the 19th century view is apparent in his, not always completely accurate portrayal of members of "The Trevecca Connection."