Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New Nazarene Blog

I just discovered a blog that I thought I would pass along. It is called iChurch of the Nazarene, and it is maintained by the Rev'd. Daryl Densford.  (Daryl is a fellow member of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society.)

Soon, I expect to be including his blog on my blog list on the sidebar.  For now, I would point you to the article, there, by Dr. Al Truesdale, entitled, "Why Wesleyans Aren't Fundamentalists".  As I understand it, this article first appeared in Holiness Today magazine.

I hope you enjoy the article and Daryl's blog!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sanctuary Sights and Senses: Altar/Table & Rails

It has been quite a while since I issued a new edition of my Sanctuary Sight and Senses bulletin insert.  However, Centenary United Methodist Church (one of the two churches I currently serve as pastor) just moved to celebrating Holy Communion each Sunday during the Advent and Christmas seasons.  Therefore, I used the following insert as a means of sharing with the congregation about that decision.

Altar/Table & Rails  -  The altar rails serve a dual purpose.  They are a place to meet God in prayer.  We gather around them as a people when we seek the Lord in prayer.  We also use them, at times, during an “invitation” or “altar call,” where, after the sermon, a call is given for people with a particular need to come and pray.  In some of our churches with strong revivalistic heritages, the altar rails are referred to simply as the altar. 

The other purpose for the altar rails is really the first and primary purpose.  We gather and kneel at the altar rails when we receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (also known as Holy Communion or the Eucharist).  It is in this way that we see their connection with the Altar/Table. 

The Altar/Table is the place where we prepare and celebrate the holy sacrament.  The two candles, there, remind us that Christ is truly present in the sacrament of His body and blood.  This is why the eternal light is often found near the place of the sacrament. 

For Wesleyan Christians, Communion is not just a memorial.  Rather, it is a rich means of God’s grace, to us.  When we come with faith in Christ, we believe that God truly pours out His grace to us; grace to forgive, redeem, cleanse, sanctify, heal . . . to meet our needs and make us more like Christ. 

The Wesley’s viewed this sacrament as the richest means of God’s grace.  Therefore, John Wesley, like the early Christians, celebrated this sacrament multiple times a week and charged all Methodist elders to administer the sacrament every Lord’s Day, which he believed was a biblical practice.  The United Methodist denomination has officially called all congregations to understand that this is, indeed, the norm for the Church.  -  May we come to the Table with faith and thanksgiving, assured that Christ has promised to meet us there!

Christmas Gift Ideas



Christmas ideas for your (Nazarene) pastor.  There's also a John Wesley bobble head appropriate for pastors of any Wesleyan-Methodist denomination.  Take it from me, Bresee & Wesley bobble heads are great ideas!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Resolution News

More good news concerning my resolutions to next summer's Nazarene General Assembly!  My district's delegation met early this week and approved seven of my eight resolutions.  This, in addition to East Ohio's action (cf., my Nov. 21 post, below), means that all eight of my resolutions will make it to General Assembly!

The resolutions that my district approved that were not covered by links in the East Ohio post are as follows: Nazarene AnthemDeacons & Elders, and the Church Government Flow Chart

The one resolution that East Ohio approved, but my district did not approve was the one on Ordination & the Superintendency.  That means that four of my eight resolutions will be sponsored by two districts (so far!).  This is important, because weight is added to the resolutions when it is seen that more than one district is sponsoring them.  -  Hopefully, the Board of General Superintendents will have matching resolutions on baptism & membership and on deacons & elders, seeing that I presented these same resolution (essentially) at the last G.A., and they were then referred to the Board of General Superintendents.

As I understand it, at least some of my resolutions are being presented to another district committee.  If I hear more about that, I will post it.  It is my hope that others are presenting them to their district's delegation, as well.  -  If you would like to do so, but have questions on how to go about it, please let me know!  Time is running out!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christ the King Sunday


This Sunday we will be celebrating Christ the King Sunday (or "The Reign of Christ the King")! - It is the last Sunday after Pentecost and the last Sunday of the Christian year. It is also the Sunday just prior to our entering into the holy season of Advent.

The observance of Christ the King Sunday is really a relatively new celebration. It was originally instituted by Pius XI, Bishop of Rome, for celebration on the last Sunday of October. However, after Vatican II, it was moved to its current location on the Christian calendar.

In honor of Christ the King Sunday, I am posting a copy of Charles Wesley's great hymn, “Rejoice, the Lord Is King,” which we will be singing at both Centenary and Main Street United Methodist Churches, this Sunday.  -  The hymn will be printed as it appears in the Sing to the Lord (Nazarene) hymnal and most other hymnals.  While we (at Centenary & Main Street UMCs) will be singing it as it appears in The United Methodist Hymnal, it seems that they have made some rather strange editorial changes in verses 1 and 4; changes that seem not to make sense.  The predecessor hymnal, The Methodist Hymnal, retains the hymn as appears elsewhere.

It is interesting (and puzzling) to note that this hymn does not seem to appear in volume 7 of The Works of John Wesley: A Collection of Hymns for the Use of The People Called Methodists.  If it had appeared in that volume, light may have been shed as to why the UMC hymnal changed the text.

Nevertheless, here is the hymn!
 
 
Rejoice, the Lord Is King
 
1. Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing, And triumph evermore.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!

2. Jesus, the Savior, reigns, The God of truth and love.
When he had purged our stains, He took His seat above.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!

3. His kingdom cannot fail; He rules o'er earth and heav'n.
The keys of death and hell Are to our Jesus giv'n.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!

4. Rejoice in glorious hope! Our Lord, the Judge, shall come
And take His servants up To their eternal home.
Lift up your heart;
Lift up your voice! Rejoice; again I say: rejoice!

This Sunday (and every day!) may we all rejoice and worship Christ our King, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to His service, and by walking before Him in holiness and righteousness all our days (cf., "A General Thanksgiving," BCP). - May all glory be to God the Father, Christ our King, and the Holy Spirit! Amen!

_____________________________________
This post was made from a combination of previous posts on this same topic.

Excellent Blog Post

Greg Crofford
I have recently discovered a blog that will likely be of great interest to the Nazarene readers of my blog.  In fact, for some time I have needed to update my blog roll, and this is certainly one blog that will be on the new list.  It is called Theology in Overalls.  It is the blog page of the Rev'd Dr. James Gregory Crofford.  Greg is currently the Coordinator of Education and Clergy Development for the Africa Region of the Church of the Nazarene, as well as the Director of the Institut Theologique Nazareen.

The particular article I want to point my Nazarene friends to is Nazarene or "Baptarene"? When Traditions Collide.  It was posted by Greg at the end of October, but I just found it.  It is an excellent article, well worth the read, and I am happy to point my readers to my new found colleague!  (Now, we just need to get him connected with the Wesleyan-Anglican Society!)

Thanks for this post, Greg!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

General Assembly Resolutions Report

While my own district's General Assembly committee will not be meeting until after the Thanksgiving holiday, I have received word that at least one other district has taken action on some of my resolutions for the 2013 General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene.

My friend (and Vice President of the newly formed Wesleyan-Anglican Society), Eric Frey submitted six of my eight resolutions to his district's committee.  He has reported that the East Ohio delegation has approved five of my resolutions.  As I understand it, the resolutions approved are those dealing with the following:  Ordination & the Superintendency, Baptism & Membership, The Lord's Supper Article of Faith, The Ritual for Infant Baptism, and the Article of Faith on Baptism

East Ohio was a great help at the last General Assembly by sponsor the Baptism & Membership resolution, at that time.  That Assembly voted to sending it to the Board of General Superintendents, so I expect that they will be presenting their own resolution at the 2013 meeting.  My hope is that it will be one that affirms my resolution.

Thank you to Eric for submitting these to his district.  I know that there is at least one other district, besides my own district, that will be considering some of these resolution.  As soon as I hear the results of these meetings, I will be reporting them on this blog.  Of course, when General Assembly comes around, I will be posting the final actions.

The five resolutions, above, can be reviewed via the links provided.  These and the other three resolutions can be found on my blog under my August 22, 2012 posts.

If you are a Nazarene and are in favor of any or all of these resolutions, and if your General Assembly delegation has not yet met, I would urge you to copy these resolutions and present them to your District Secretary/Superintendent for their consideration!  (Even if they have met, you could contact your D.S.; they could still consider them!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Responding . . . to a "Stylish Baptism"

 
Today, my friend, the Rev'd. Taylor Burton-Edwards, posted on the Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook page, a video.  It then appeared on the Sacramental Nazarenes fb page, and then on individuals' posts.  I think that Taylor's response sums it up: "Kyrie Eleison" (Lord, Have Mercy).
 
Take a look, and see what you think . . .
 

 

Now, the comments that I have read on Facebook and elsewhere have ranged from belief that this surely must be a spoof to that of being highly offended.  -  Well, it is NOT a spoof.  It is a video done by Leslie Birkland of the Big Rich Texas show on Style Network.  And, so, of course, one just shakes one's head when watching something like this.

However, the thought struck me.  Perhaps, instead of railing on Ms. Birkland for this (really horrible) video, we might ask the question of what would lead a person to make such a video.  Could it be that Ms. Birkland simply and honestly has no idea what Holy Baptism is all about?  Could it be, then, that she would be taken aback at the responses that this video is provoking?  And, if that is the case, could it be that she simply has never been taught about the Holy Sacrament (or about what Christianity is really all about)?  -  She has (in the video; I've never seen her show) implied, by virtue of being Kalyn's "godmother," that she is a Christian.  So, should we not treat her as a sister in Christ and, as Priscilla and Aquila did with Apollos, should we not seek to "explain to [her] the way of God more adequately" (Acts 18:24-26).

To that end, I tried to find a way to contact Ms. Birkland, but to little avail.  I could find no email contact or way to contact her via Facebook.  I was able to make a comment on her bio page on the Big Rich Texas site.  However, when I went back, I did not see it.  I do not know if it is working properly.  -  In any case, here is my open invitation, if Ms. Birkland happens to find this page, I would be happy to talk with her (and Kalyn, the young lady who was baptized) about the sacrament of Holy Baptism and the Christian faith in a less public manner.

Monday, October 22, 2012

All Hallow's Eve: My Take on Halloween

A few years ago, during a time of family devotions, we were talking about the “PACT” form of prayer: Praise, Ask, Confess, and Thank. In the devotion we were reading, we were also asked to read the Lord’s Prayer, and then the lesson asked which part of the Lord’s Prayer fit each letter of PACT.

The very first one, of course was Praise, and my wife asked what part of the Lord’s Prayer was praise. Well, I immediately raised my hand and said, “I know, I know.” And so, my wife called on me. Do you know which part of the Lord’s Prayer is considered praise? - “Our Father, who art in heaven; Hallowed be thy Name.” You see, in that prayer we are saying, “May your Name be hallowed.”

Now, when I said that, one of our kids immediately asked, “What does hallowed mean? Is it like Halloween?” - What do you think? When we pray, “Hallowed be thy Name,” is it like Halloween?

I think that question goes to the question that is often asked in Christian circles, “What do we do with Halloween?” - You know, when I was a kid, our church used to have Halloween parties every year. We used to hold it out in the woods at the Optimist Club building. It was a great time. I remember going, and our family arrived early one year. It was the year that I was dressed up like the Incredible Hulk. I had a rubber Hulk mask and inflatable muscles. Anyway, because we arrived early, we split up and hid. I think I hid behind a tree in the surrounding woods. Then we would each one “arrive” at different times, so as to help disguise who we really were. One year I was Scooby Doo. (That was before I could do the Scooby Doo voice.) We had a really great time.

However, as time went by, I encountered Christians at other churches (even within the same denomination) who would never do such a thing. From their perspective, Halloween was an evil, even Satanic celebration. It was to be avoided completely.

Some suggested Christian alternatives, sometimes called Hallelujah Parties, instead of Halloween Parties. These ranged from events where you could dress up, so long as there were no monsters, or evil costumes, to events where you could only dress as Bible characters, to no costumes allowed whatsoever. - And I learned never to assume anything about people’s position with regard to Halloween.

So it leaves us with the question, since there are a range of opinions, what ought we, as Christians, do about Halloween?

Well, when the question was asked, “What does hallowed mean? Is it like Halloween?” I said, “Actually, it is like Halloween.” - You see, to hallow is to make or to declare something or someone to be holy. We are saying to God, “Your name is holy.” - And Halloween is a form of All Hallow’s Evening, or All Hallow’s Eve; Hallowe-‘en. In other words it is the evening before All Hallow’s Day, or All Holy One’s Day, which we know as . . . All Saints’ Day. All Saints’ Day is celebrated on November 1st or the first Sunday, thereafter. - All Saints, by the way, was one of John Wesley’s favorite days.

Now, since that is the case, it should at least make Christians stop and consider a bit before we simply declare Halloween to be evil and Satanic. - But, of course there is more to the story. - So, how did Halloween come about with all of our costumes and customs?

Well, in Ireland, the ancient Druids, prior to the arrival of Christianity, marked the coming of the new year on November 1st. Like so many groups, their calendars were governed by the seasons of the year, especially the times of harvest. Around November the season would changed from the time of harvest to winter; that is, to the time when things died.

October 31st was called Samhain (often pronounced SOW-in), the Celtic word for the end of Summer. In their Pagan superstitions they believed that on October 31st, the end of the year and the beginning of the time of death, the curtain between the living and the dead became blurred. On this night, it was believed that the ghosts of the dead would return to this world.

This was their reasoning: When the dead are buried, they are buried under the ground. During the Summer months, the grass is green and alive, the flowers bloom, the trees are full of life, and they are, therefore, able to keep the dead buried. But when the trees and flowers all die, and the grass turns brown, what is there to keep the dead buried? They are, therefore, able to escape . . . at least for that one night.

Well, in addition to damaging crops, it was believed that these spirits made it easier for the Druid priests to see into the future so that they could determine whether the crops would survive the winter, etc. Therefore, they would have a ritual of sorts involving a large bonfire, burning crops and animal sacrifices while wearing disguises (like animal costumes), which would confuse and ward off any evil spirits.

Now, by the ninth-Century, as the Church spread throughout the land, the Church did what the Church has always done. It sought to appropriate and redeem, or transform and sanctify the secular or the Pagan. It sought to “redeem the time” or the day, as St. Paul says, and claim it for Christ. And here is how the Church went about it:

Early on, it was the custom of the Church to remember the Martyrs. - As early as the 4th century the Church in the East held a feast to honor all of the martyred saints, together. On May 13, 610, relics of martyrs were moved from some catacombs to the Pantheon, and the bishop of Rome, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the building with the title of the feast of All Martyrs and All Saints and Our Lady.

Now, fast forward to the ninth-Century, again, when the Church had spread throughout the Celtic land. It was in 835 that the new bishop of Rome, Pope Gregory III, designated November 1st as All Saints Day, many believe in an attempt to Christianize the Celtic holiday. Thus, Samhain became All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween. - By the way, we also know that by A.D. 1000, there were parades and bonfires and people dressed in costumes of saints and angels, etc. in order to honor and celebrate those saints who had died in the faith.

Now, in America, the Puritan settlers didn’t want anything to do with those Pagan, and more importantly foreign customs. But, when Irish immigrants came over, in such a new setting, their customs began to take on new forms. So, any remaining Pagan elements of their customs quickly vanished. Bonfires were often replaced with candles in pumpkins. (I’ll not take time to go into the history of the Jack-O-lantern.) Animal disguises to ward off evil spirits became children’s costumes. And an American holiday was born.

So, those customs that the Church failed to transform the good ole’ American marketplace succeeded in secularizing. - Unfortunately, it has also had great success in secularizing such holy days as Christmas and Easter, as well. So much so that many Christians fail to observe the important season of Advent in preparation for Christmas, and then once Christmas Day arrives, they are ready to pack everything away; thus, failing to celebrate the twelve days of the Christmas season. Oh, how we have allowed the secular marketplace to de-Christianize us! But that’s another story for another time!

So with all of this in mind, what ought we to do with Halloween? First, respect the convictions of those around us. But, having said that, my opinion is, let the kids (and adults) have fun. And as a Church, use the opportunity to teach our children (and adults) about those who have gone before us in the faith.

Now, in our post-modern, post-Christian age, with the resurgence of various spiritualities such as Wicca and Paganism, the Pagan versions of Samhain is certainly experiencing a resurgence, at least in certain pockets of our population. Christians do need to be aware of this.  Nevertheless, I think that we who are in Christ ought to join with St. Paul and the saints throughout the ages by faithfully redeeming the time for the glory of God!

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(The article, above, is a modified reprint of my article from last year.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Feast of St. Luke



Today, we celebrate the Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist.  Luke was unique as a New Testament writer.  He was a Gentile and a physician.  He was also a fellow missionary with St. Paul.  St. Luke is the author of both the Gospel bearing his name, as well as the book of Acts.

Of the four Gospel accounts, Luke is the only one that tells us about the annunciation to Mary, her visit with Elizabeth, Jesus in the manger, the angels appearing to the shepherds, and the story of Simeon.  We also find in his Gospel account six miracles and eighteen parables that are not found in the other three accounts.

In Acts, Luke tells us about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.  He also tells us about the spread of Christianity "around the world."

 
A Prayer for the Order of Saint Luke
 
O Shepherd of us all, who inspired your servant Saint Luke the Physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of Jesus:
Grant, we ask you, your Spirit to the Order of Saint Luke, that we may proclaim faithfully the Apostolic hope, magnify the Sacraments, and bring your healing grace to the whole Church; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
 
 
(Information drawn from Lesser Feasts and Fasts 1997.  Prayer from The Book of Offices and Services after the Usage of the Order of Saint Luke.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Voting on the Wesleyan-Anglican Society Constitution

As of this morning, voting is open on the Constitution for the newly forming Wesleyan-Anglican Society.  Voting is taking place on the Wesleyan/Anglican Facebook page, here.  One can view the revised Constitution by going to the files section of the W/A fb page.

Per the motion, the vote will remain open until a motion is made to close the vote.

If you are not a part of the W/A fb group, but are interested, I suggest that you take a look!

An affirmative vote also constitutes a commitment to membership in the new Society.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

General Assembly Resolution: Ordination and the Superintendency

Here is a copy of the General Assembly resolution on Ordination and the Superintendency, which I have presented to our district delegation. - Please note that underlined words are those to be added, while words in brackets are to be deleted. - I am asking all Nazarenes to send this resolution to your district delegation. - Thank you!


SUPREINTENDENCY/ORDINATION            307.4

 307.4.  To ordain, or appoint [others] another superintendent (i.e., general superintendent, general superintendent emeriti or retired, or district superintendent) to ordain, in connection with the ordained [ministers] elders present, those who have been duly elected to be elders or deacons. (435.5-35.6) 

 FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.  We, along with Wesley and the larger Methodist tradition, have understood that “Bishops and Presbyters are the same order, and consequently have the same right to ordain” (Wesley’s Sept. 10, 1784 letter “To Dr. Coke, Mr. Asbury, and our Brethren in North-America”).  That is to say, the power to ordain is found within the order of elders.  There is not a separate “order of bishop” or “superintendent.”  Nevertheless, we, along with others in the larger Methodist tradition, have reserved the authority to ordain, within our denominations, to those elders who have been elected to the episcopal office/role of superintendent.  (Episkopos, which is usually translated “bishop,” is understood to mean “overseer,” or “superintendent,” which is the term that we and some other Wesleyan denominations use for the episcopal role.)

2.  For the Church of the Nazarene, the episcopal aspect of our government is expressed through the
superintendency, both general and district (cf., the “Foreword,” and par. 28.1, 206.f, 306.f, 314.f, and 315.f).

3.  It would be highly desirable that ordinations, if not being performed by the general superintendent in jurisdiction, be performed by another general superintendent (active, emeriti, or retired), in as much as they represent the whole church.

4.  When the general superintendent in jurisdiction is not able to ordain, and when no other general
superintendent is able to ordain, it would be highly desirable that one vested with the authority to oversee the district (i.e., the district superintendent) be the person appointed to ordain.

5.  In no case should anyone other than an ordained elder be appointed to ordain, for ordination must be passed along by one already ordained.  The power to ordained is found within the order of elders.

6.  As the paragraph currently reads, it would be possible (even if unlikely) that a general superintendent could appoint someone outside of holy orders to ordain.  Such would be completely inconsistent with the historic Christian and Wesleyan and Nazarene understanding of ordination.

General Assembly Resolution: Official Anthem

Here is a copy of the General Assembly resolution on an Official Church Anthem, which I have presented to our district delegation. - Please note that underlined words are those to be added, while words in brackets are to be deleted. - I am asking all Nazarenes to send this resolution to your district delegation. - Thank you!


OFFICIAL CHURCH ANTHEM                                    Resolution Not in the Manual

 Be it resolved that the hymn, “Holiness unto the Lord” by Lelia N. Morris (as found on page 503 of Sing to the Lord) be declared to be the official anthem of the Church of the Nazarene.

FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.   “Holiness unto the Lord” has already been acknowledged, elsewhere, as the “unofficial” anthem of the church.

2.  The message of the hymn expresses clearly the identity of the Church of the Nazarene as a Wesleyan-holiness denomination.

3.  The hymn is widely and consistently (if not always) sung during the ordination services at our various district assemblies.

4.  Such a resolution does not require the use of the hymn in any particular setting, but simply reaffirms our holiness identity.

General Assembly Resolutioin: Baptism and Membership

Here is a copy of the General Assembly resolution on Baptism and Membership, which I have presented to our district delegation. - Please note that underlined words are those to be added, while words in brackets are to be deleted. - I am asking all Nazarenes to send this resolution to your district delegation. - Thank you!


                                MEMBERSHIP/BAPTISM                                  29, 107, 801

                                                 Article II. Local Churches

                29. The membership of a local church shall consist of all who have been organized as a church by those authorized so to do and who have been publicly received by those having proper authority, after having experienced Christian baptism, and having declared their experience of salvation, their belief in our doctrines, and their willingness to submit to our government. (100-107)

B. Membership

                107. Full Membership.  All persons who have been organized into a local church by those authorized so to do, and all who have been publicly received by the pastor, the district superintendent, or the general superintendent, after having experienced Christian baptism, and having declared their experience of salvation, and their belief in the doctrines of the Church of the Nazarene, and their willingness to submit to its government, shall compose the full membership of the local church.  The local church leadership shall seek to place every member into a ministry of service and a circle of care and support. (29, 35.4, 107.2, 111, 113.1, 414.1, 418, 429.8, 435.8-35.9)
               

801. THE RECEPTION OF CHURCH MEMBERS

                   The prospective members having come forward to stand before the altar of the church, the pastor shall address them as follows:

                DEARLY BELOVED: The privileges and blessings that we have in association together in the Church of Jesus Christ are very sacred and precious.  There is in it such hallowed fellowship as cannot otherwise be known.

                There is such helpfulness with brotherly watch are and counsel as can be found only in the Church.

                There is the godly care of pastors, with the teachings of the Word; and the helpful inspiration of social worship.  And there is cooperation in service, accomplishing that which cannot otherwise be done.  The doctrines upon which the church rests as essential to Christian experience are brief.

                NOTE:  The  minister may choose one of the following creedal options.

OPTION 1:

                We believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We especially emphasize the deity of Jesus Christ and the personality of the Holy Spirit.

                We believe that human beings are born in sin; that they need the work of forgiveness through Christ and the new birth by the Holy Spirit; that subsequent to this there is the deeper work of heart cleansing or entire sanctification through the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and that to each of these works of grace the Holy Spirit gives witness.

                We believe that our Lord will return, the dead shall be raised, and that all shall come to final judgment with its rewards and punishments.

                Do you heartily believe these truths?  If so, answer, “I do.”

                Having experienced Christian baptism do [Do] you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and do you realize that He saves you now?

                Response: I do.

                Desiring to unite with the Church of the Nazarene, do you covenant to give yourself to the fellowship and work of God in connection with it, as set forth in the General Rules and the Covenant of Christian Conduct of the Church of the Nazarene?  Will you endeavor in every way to glorify God, by a humble walk, godly conversation, and holy service; by devotedly giving of your means of grace; and, abstaining from all evil, will you seek earnestly to perfect holiness of heart and life in the fear of the Lord?

                Response: I will.

                 The minister shall then say to the person or persons:

                I welcome you into this church, to its sacred fellowship, responsibilities, and privileges.  May the great Head of the Church bless and keep you, and enable you to be faithful in all good works, that your life and witness may be effective in leading others to Christ.

                The minister shall then take each one by the hand, and with appropriate words of personal greeting welcome each into the church.

                (Alternate form for members joining by letter of transfer:)

                _____________, formerly a member (members) of the Church of the Nazarene at __________, comes (come) to join the fellowship of this local congregation.

                 Taking each by the hand, or speaking to the group, the minister shall say:

                It gives me pleasure on behalf of this church to welcome you into our membership.  We trust that we will be a sourced of encouragement and strength to you and that you, in turn, will be a source of blessing and help to us.  May the Lord richly bless you in the salvation of souls and in the advancement of His kingdom.

OPTION2:

We believe:

                In one God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

                That the Old and New Testament Scriptures, given by plenary inspiration, contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living . . .

                . . . Do you heartily believe these truths?  If so, answer, “I do.”

                Having experienced Christian baptism do [Do] you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and do you realize that He saves you now?

                Response: I do.

. . .

 

FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1. It is generally accepted that, as General Superintendent Emeritus, the Rev’d. Dr. William Greathouse, has said, “In the New Testament church there simply were no unbaptized Christians . . .” (Staples 11) Staples, Rob L. Outward Sign and Inward Grace: The Place of Sacraments in Wesleyan Spirituality. Kansas City: Beacon Hill P 1991.

2. The Church, generally, for over 2000 years has understood baptism as the sign of initiation into the new covenant.

3.  Jesus and the apostles command baptism (e.g., Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 10:48).

4.  The Scriptures consistently declare the importance of baptism (e.g., Jesus declares that “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit,” John 3:5; We are “baptized into Christ Jesus,” Rom. 6:3; “. . . we were all baptized into one body,” the Church, 1 Cor. 12:13; and Peter even declares that “baptism . . . now saves you,” 1 Pet. 3:21).

5.  Article of Faith XII. Baptism, paragraph 16, states the following: “. . . Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers . . .,” and “Baptism being a symbol of the new covenant . . .” (italics mine)  Thus, those who refuse baptism are acting inconsistently with the membership requirements in paragraph 29, which states that they must declare “. . . their beliefs in our doctrines . . .”

6.  The FIRST of our General Rules (par. 27) call us to do “. . . that which is enjoined in the Word of God, which is our rule of both faith and practice . . .”

7.  Most denominations, including the two denominations most like the Church of the Nazarene (viz., The Wesleyan Church and the Free Methodist Church of North America) require baptism prior to membership.  In fact, allowing members who are not baptized places us at odds with orthodox Christianity.

8.  It is surely more important for people to be fully “Christian” than “Nazarenes.”

9.  Not only has it been the case that we have had church board members serving who have never been baptized, but it has even been the case that elders have been ordained in the Church of the Nazarene, having been charged to “administer the sacraments,” who had not yet been baptized.

10.  Our acceptance of any of the three modes of baptism as being valid should make baptism as readily available as membership, itself, even in areas where water is not abundant (i.e., one need only to sprinkle, in such cases).

11.  The action of the 2005 General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene placed our denomination outside of orthodox Christianity by officially voting to not require Christian baptism for membership, making the Church of the Nazarene, as a denomination, something less than a Christian church by orthodox Christian standards.

12. The action of the 2005 General Assembly (cf., 11, above) invalidated the “Historical Statement” on page 16 of the Manual that says, “While the Church of the Nazarene has responded to its special calling to proclaim the doctrine and experience of entire sanctification, it has taken care to retain and nurture identification with the historic church in its preaching of the Word, its administration of the sacraments, its concern to raise up and maintain a ministry that is truly apostolic in faith and practice, and its inculcating of disciplines for Christlike living and service to others” (italics mine).

General Assembly Resolution: The Article on the Lord's Supper

Here is a copy of the General Assembly resolution on the Article of Faith on the Lord's Supper, which I have presented to our district delegation. - Please note that underlined words are those to be added, while words in brackets are to be deleted. - I am asking all Nazarenes to send this resolution to your district delegation. - Thank you!


XIII. THE LORD’S SUPPER   17.

XIII. The Lord’s Supper

                17. We believe that the Memorial and Communion Supper instituted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is essentially a New Testament sacrament and means of grace through faith, declarative of Christ’s [His] sacrificial death, through the merits of which believers have life and salvation and promise of all spiritual blessings in Christ.  It is distinctively for those who are prepared for reverent appreciation of its significance, and by it they show forth the Lord’s death till he come again.  It being the Communion fest, only those who have faith in Christ and love for the saints should be called to participate therein.

FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.  This change makes clear that we are Wesleyan in our understanding of the sacraments as outward signs of an inward grace and means whereby we receive the same.

2.  Such a change makes the article consistent with other Manual paragraphs that identify sacraments as means of grace, viz., 27.1(7) & 413.9.

3.  Such a change is consistent with statements found in various Nazarene theological writings.

4.  Such a change s consistent with our Methodists heritage.

5.  Such a change is consistent with John Wesley’s understanding.

6.  Such a change brings us closer in alignment with our closest denominational partners, The Wesleyan Church and the Free Methodist Church, along with our other sisters and brothers throughout World Methodism.

General Assembly Resolution: Deacons & Elders

Here is a copy of the General Assembly resolution on deacons and elders, which I have presented to our district delegation. - Please note that underlined words are those to be added, while words in brackets are to be deleted. - I am asking all Nazarenes to send this resolution to your district delegation. - Thank you!


                 DEACONS/ELDERS                 403, 430.1-2, 430.4, 431., and 431.1

403.  The Church of the Nazarene recognizes the order of elder and the order of deacon [only one order of preaching ministry, that of elder].  It also recognizes that the member of the clergy may serve the church in various capacities.  Christ has called “some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11-12).  The church recognizes the following categories of service in which a district assembly may place an elder, deacon, or, as circumstances warrant, a licensed minister: pastor, evangelist, missionary, teacher, administrator, chaplain, and special service.  Service within these categories that qualifies as being an “assigned minister” would include that service for which ministerial training and ordination are normally required, or greatly desired.  The Sourcebook on Ordination shall provide guidelines for each category of ministry that will aid district boards in identifying the qualifications necessary for consideration to be an assigned minister.  Only assigned ministers shall be voting members of the district assembly.

430.1.  [The deacon does not witness to a specific call to preach.]  The church recognizes, on the basis of Scripture and experience, that God calls some individuals to a lifetime ministry [who do not witness to such a specific call] of Word and Service, and believes that individuals so called to [such ministries] the ministry of a deacon should be recognized and confirmed by the church and should meet requirements, and be granted responsibilities, established by the church.  This is a permanent order of ministry.

430.2.  The deacon must meet the requirements of the order for education, exhibit the appropriate gifts and graces, and be recognized and confirmed by the church.  The deacon shall be vested with the authority to administer the sacrament[s] of baptism [and the Lord’s Supper], to officiate at marriages where the laws of the state do not prohibit, to assist the elder in the distribution of the Lord’s Supper, and [on occasion] to conduct worship and to preach.  It is understood that the Lord and the church may use this person’s gifts and graces in various associate ministries.  As a symbol of the servant ministry of the Body of Christ, the deacon may also use his or her gifts in roles outside the institutional church.  (35.2)

430.4.  If in the pursuance of his or her ministry, the ordained deacon feels called to the [preaching] ministry of elder, he or she may be ordained [elder] as such upon completion of the requirements for that credential and the return of the deacon credential.

431.  An elder is a minister whose call of God to preach, gifts, and usefulness have been demonstrated and enhanced by proper training and experience, and who has been separated for the ministry of Word and Table and to the service of Christ through His church by the vote of a district assembly and by the solemn act of ordination, and thus has been fully invested to perform all functions of the Christian ministry.

431.1  [We recognize but one order of preaching ministry – that of elder.]  The order of elder [this] is a permanent order in the church.  The elder is to rule well in the church, to preach the Word, to administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and to solemnize matrimony, all in the name of, and in subjection to, Jesus Christ, the great Head of the Church.  (35.2, 412-13.3, 413.9, 435.12)
 

FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.  Throughout the history of the Church, from ancient times up to and including our own lineage of John Wesley’s Anglicanism and American Methodism, the distinction between the order of deacon and the order of elder has been: a.) the deacon is called to a ministry focused on service, and b.) the elder is vested with the authority to administer the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  This has been expressed as the ministry of “Word and Service,” on the one hand, and the ministry of “Word and Table,” on the other hand.

 2.  This is this distinction that that hold nearly universally in the larger Wesleyan/Methodist tradition (cf. the Disciplines of the African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Christian Methodist Episcopal, and United Methodist churches). 

3.  This is the main distinction that seems to be held ecumenically, and it is the main distinction that seems to be held in the Roman  Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, as well.

4.  Our current distinction between the two orders (viz., preaching), seems to have been assumed due to the statement in par. 429.1 that “We recognize but one order of preaching ministry – that of elder.”  -  However, making preaching the distinction between the two orders when we developed the order of deacon was an erroneous assumption.  The statement found in par. 429.1 was not intended to distinguish the order of elder from any other order.  Rather, that statement was meant to reinforce that we had only ONE order; that of elder.  We did not have TWO preaching orders (viz., elder and deacon), as did the Methodist Episcopal Church of the time.  We only had ONE preaching order (viz., elder).
 
5.  To identify the distinction between the elder and deacon as one of a call to preach, not only disregards the historic position of the larger Church, but is very difficult to maintain when the deacon, according to par. 428.2, may also preach, and when we are a part of a tradition that involves lay preachers (cf. par. 402.1).

6.  The proposed changes will bring us much closer to alignment with the usage of the terms in Scripture, the distinctions throughout the history of the Christian Church, the ecumenical consensus, and our own Wesleyan heritage.

General Assembly Resolution: Church Government Flow Chart

Here is a copy of the General Assembly resolution on the Church Government Flow Chart, which I have presented to our district delegation. - Please note that underlined words are those to be added, while words in brackets are to be deleted. - I am asking all Nazarenes to send this resolution to your district delegation. - Thank you!


        CHURCH GOVERNMENT FLOW CHART                                  Historical Statement, page 25

Under the box for LOCAL CHURCH:  (elects pastor and local church board. [; manages local church finances; has charge of all other matters pertaining to its local life and work])

Insert a box for PASTOR Paragraphs 115, 412-420

Insert below the new box for PASTOR, (elected by the local church, nominated by the church board, approved by the district superintendent, to give oversight of a local church)

Insert a box for LOCAL CHURCH BOARD Paragraphs 127-.1, 129-130

Insert below the new box for LOCAL CHURCH BOARD, (elected by the local church to manage local church finances and have charge of all other matters pertaining to the life and work of the local church)

 

FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.  The current flow chart gives the inaccurate impression that our government, on the local level, is purely congregational, when in fact it includes pastoral oversight and is representative.  It is simply an inaccurate flow chart.

2.  The current flow chart is inconsistent with how it represents the local government in comparison to the way it represents the general and district government.

General Assembly Resolution: Ritual for Infant Baptism

Here is a copy of the General Assembly resolution on the Ritual for Infant Baptism, which I have presented to our district delegation. - Please note that underlined words are those to be added, while words in brackets are to be deleted. - I am asking all Nazarenes to send this resolution to your district delegation. - Thank you!


BAPTISM OF INFANTS                                                                         800.2
 

800.2. The Baptism of Infants or Young Children

            When the sponsors shall have presented themselves with the child (or children) the minister shall say:                                                                      

            DEARLY BELOVED:  The sacrament of baptism is the sign and seal of the new covenant of grace.  [While we do not hold that baptism imparts the regenerating grace of God, we do believe that Christian baptism]  It is a powerful instance of God’s prevenient grace signifying  [signifies] for this young child God’s gracious acceptance within the community of Christian faith [on the basis of prevenient grace].  It anticipates his (her) personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ.

The earliest and simplest statement of Christian belief, into which you now bring your child to be baptized, is the Apostles’ Creed, which reads as follows:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;

“And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

“I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic (universal) Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”

            Will you have your child baptized into this faith? If so, answer, “I will.”
Response: I will.

In presenting this child for baptism you are hereby witnessing to your own personal Christian faith and to your purpose to guide him (her) early in life to a knowledge of Christ as Savior.  To this end it is your duty to teach him (her), as soon as he (she) shall be able to learn, the nature and end of this holy sacrament; to watch over his (her) education, that he (she) may not be lead astray; to direct his (her) feet to the sanctuary; to restrain him (her) from evil associates and habits; and as much as in you lies, to bring him (her) up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

             Will you endeavor to do so by the help of God?  If so, answer, “I will.”

            The minister may then ask the parents or guardians to name the child, and shall then baptize the child, repeating his (her) full name and saying:

            _______________, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.                

            The minister may then offer the following prayer or may use an extemporary prayer.                                                                      

 
            Heavenly Father, we humbly pray that Thou wilt take this child into Thy loving care.  Abundantly enrich him (her) with Thy heavenly grace; bring him (her) safely through the perils of childhood; deliver him (her) from the temptations of youth; lead him (her) to a personal knowledge of Christ as Savior; help him (her) to grow in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and man, and to persevere therein to the end.  Uphold the parents with loving care, that with wise counsel and holy example they may faithfully discharge their responsibilities to both this child and to Thee.  In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.  The changes above bring this ritual of baptism into much closer alignment with the ritual for The Baptism of Believers.  Since believers and infant baptisms are both Christian baptisms, they should reflect the same reality.

2.  While the changes above bring this ritual into much closer alignment with that of The Baptism of Believers, it marks a greater distinction between it and the rituals for The Dedication of Infants or Young Children.  Since those two acts are significantly different, it is fitting that the rituals be sufficiently distinct.

3.  While clarifying statements can be made parenthetically by the presiding clergy, we need not state in the ritual itself what we do not believe, but rather what we do believe.  The above resolution allows us to make the baptism of infants and young children a positive, celebratory time, rather than presenting a sense of uncertainty or defensiveness, which the wording of the current ritual may produce.

4.  The above resolution is more consistent with Wesleyan sacramental theology and the teachings of John Wesley, which utilizes the Apostles’ Creed, and which speaks of the sacraments as means of God’s grace.  (It is not that baptism, itself, imparts any grace, but rather that God does impart grace through the means, by faith.)

5.  The above resolution is more closely in line with Article of Faith XII. Baptism, paragraph 16, in that it neither reduces our beliefs, nor imposes doctrinal positions not stated within the Article of Faith.  Thus, the above resolution provides a ritual that is readily usable for all who espouse belief in Article of Faith XII, whereas, the current ritual is does not provide such an opportunity for all who wholeheartedly espouse belief in Article of Faith XII.

General Assembly Resolution: Article of Faith on Baptism

Here is a copy of the General Assembly resolution on the Article of Faith on Baptism, which I have presented to our district delegation.  -  Please note that underlined words are those to be added, while words in brackets are to be deleted.  -  I am asking all Nazarenes to send this resolution to your district delegation.  -  Thank you!


XII. BAPTISM                                                                         16. 

XII. Baptism

                16. We believe that Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament and means of grace through faith signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers and declarative of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior; and full purpose of obedience in holiness and righteousness.
                Baptism being a symbol of the new covenant, young children may be baptized, upon request of parents or guardians who shall give assurance for them of necessary Christian training.
                Baptism may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, according to the choice of the applicant.                                                                                                                                                                                                                
 

FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.  This change makes clear that we are Wesleyan in our understanding of the sacraments as outward signs of an inward grace and means whereby we receive the same.

 2.  Such a change makes the article consistent with other Manual paragraphs that identify sacraments as means of grace, viz., 27.1(7) & 413.9.

3.  Such a change is consistent with statements found in various Nazarene theological writings.

4.  Such a change s consistent with our Methodists heritage.

5.  Such a change is consistent with John Wesley’s understanding.

6.  Such a change brings us closer in alignment with our closest denominational partners, The Wesleyan Church and the Free Methodist Church, along with our other sisters and brothers throughout World Methodism.