Saturday, December 10, 2016

Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare the way before thee, grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the word, we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.


(The Book of Common Prayer as given by John Wesley to the people Called Methodists)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou has given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer as given by John Wesley to the people called Methodists)

The Feast of Saint Nicholas

Today, December 6, we celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas.  -  Yes, St. Nicholas, as in St. Nick, or Santa Claus, as he has come to be known.  Of course, much of the image of Santa Claus these days makes no reference to the true Santa (Saint) Claus (Nicholas).  Nevertheless, Santa has his origin in this Saint of the Church, who was a real bishop of the Church in the fourth century.

A number of years ago, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly did a story about the good bishop.  I first saw it posted on the Sacramental Nazarenes Facebook page (a few years back).  I thought I would share it with the readers of this blog.



I also want to recommend a book for parents who's children are getting close to "that age."  It is a book written by Harold Myra and illustrated by Jane Kurisu, titled "Santa Are You for Real?"  It was published in 1997 by Tommy Nelson (the children's imprint for Thomas Nelson, Inc.).  -  My wife and I read this book to both of our children as they were growing-up, and we have recommended it to other parents over the years. 

Finally, as an aside for my fellow Sci-Fi nerds, it has been pointed out that, according to this icon, below, it may well be that Santa Claus is really a Klingon and possibly an ancestor to Lieutenant Commander Worf!  I'll let you be the judge!  -  Just in case, and in good Klingon fashion, on this Feast of St. Nicholas I wish you all Qapla'!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Collect for the First Sunday of Advent



Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever.  Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer as given by John Wesley to the people called Methodists)

Friday, November 18, 2016

General Assembly Resolution Modification

Just a note for those who are following my resolutions for next Summer's General Assembly.  I have modified the fifth reason for my resolution (below) on The Superintendency and Ordination by including references to Paul's letters to Timothy.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

An Invitation to The Wesleyan Pattern of Prayer and Fasting

The following explanation of the "Wesley Fast" comes from World Methodist Evangelism (a part of the World Methodist Council). 

As a member of the Order of the FLAME, I have participated in the Wesley Fast for years.  I have found it to be of such significance that we included it in the constitution for the Wesleyan-Anglican Society.

If you do not currently have a regular pattern of prayer and fasting, I encourage you to join with Methodists around the world in the Wesley Fast!

Hear this invitation from World Methodist Evangelism:


The Wesleyan Pattern of Prayer and Fasting

Fasting is a significant part of the Christian experience. Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days and taught his disciples to fast. First century churches fasted twice weekly. John Wesley encouraged those in the Methodist Movement to fast and pray.
In more than 130 countries, the Wesleyan/Methodist family joins in the same weekly fast which John Wesley observed most of his life: going without solid food after their evening meal each Thursday until mid-afternoon each Friday. This time of fasting is focused in prayer on the vision that those who follow Jesus in the company of the Wesleys would be empowered to become channels for the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.
Our world desperately needs the healing, hope, and salvation offered in Jesus Christ. You can become part of this important movement by joining us as we fast and pray weekly for Holy Spirit power to share the good news so that the world may know Jesus Christ. 

Thursday Evening Prayer
To you, O God, we offer the coming day's devotion of prayer and fasting. We thank you for the example of Jesus. Grant that we may die to ourselves. Make us new in Christ. Feed the starvation of soul, of thought, of will, and after the quiet rest of sleep; open our mouths to praise you in the morning. Through Christ your son, our Light and our Strength. AMEN 

Friday, November 11, 2016

John Michael Talbot & "The Ancient Path"

About two and a half weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear, in person, for the second time, John Michael Talbot.  For those unfortunate folks who don't already know John Michael . . . you've gotta' get to know him!  You can find his website, here.

I was first introduced to John Michael by reading a piece from a bishop in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (as I recall), who talked about his journey toward the ancient liturgy.  He made mention of all of these guys who shared this journey and how they would all listen to John Michael's music.  It was just a mention, but it caused me to look up who this guy was who had influenced others who were, like myself, drawn toward the ancient liturgy.  -  I am so glad I did!

It was probably just after its release that I picked up John Michael's Simple Heart CD.  We were on vacation, as I recall, and it was a stressful time for me.  (It seems that I have a lot of those!  This is, in part, due to my convictions about the Wesleyan/Anglican liturgical and sacramental commitments and trying to live those out in what has too typically been a non-liturgical/sacramental setting.  -  Some who read this blog understand well the frustrations that I am talking about.  But . . .)  -  What a blessing this CD was and has continued to be over the years!!!

John Michael has released about 55 albums over the years.  I only have a fraction of them (about 17, I think).  Simple Heart remains a favorite of mine, and I find myself listening to it often.

During this last concert, I "branched out" and picked up one of John Michael's books: The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today.  I'm only 64 pages into this 194 page book, but already, like his music, I am loving it.

Thus far, he has shown the nature of spiritual "fathers" in the Christian Church.  I think that this is something that people often leave out when writing about and reading the Church Fathers, but it deepens for us their writings, their lives and their significance to our lives and faith.  -  Of course, this is also helpful for many who are not a part of a tradition that addresses their clergy as "Father," and who view it with suspicion due to Jesus' instructions about such titles.  -  (As a related aside: I've never particularly liked it when people have referred to John Wesley as "Father John."  I've thought that they were imposing a contemporary title for contemporary Anglican priests, upon one who never used the title and who lived in a time when Anglican priests did not use the title.  However, after reading this part of John Michael's book, I see the appropriateness of this title for Wesley [even if many who have used it have not!].)

This morning I posted a two paragraph quote from the book on Facebook.  (And John Michael commented on my post!  How cool is that!)  -  This quote focuses on the nature of the Church, salvation and the sacraments.  I found it very much in line with the ecclesiology that I have come to hold as I have grown in my commitment to Wesley's Anglican liturgical and sacramental theology.

I trust that many of you will resonate with what John Michael wrote:

     The Church, in fact, was the ordinary means of salvation, established by Jesus, and it applied  
     salvation by means of the sacramental mysteries, also established by Jesus. Three thousand were
     baptized on Pentecost (Acts 2:41), and their life afterward was centered on Eucharist: "the
     apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42).

     That is the same Church I encountered in the works of the Apostolic Fathers. They shared Saint
     Peter's conviction that "baptism . . .now saves you" (1 Peter 3:21) and Saint Paul's belief in the
     Eucharist as a communion in the Body and Blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). I encountered
     the ideal harmony between personal salvation and reception of the sacraments as a Spirit-filled,
     life-giving personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
 

Friday, October 28, 2016

General Assembly Resolution Concerning the Ritual for the Lord's Supper


THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER                                                               802

                                                                                     
 

802. THE SACRAMENT OF
THE LORD’S SUPPER

 
            The administration of the Lord’s Supper may be introduced by an appropriate sermon and the
            reading of 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Luke 22:14-20, or some other suitable passage. Let the 
            minister then give the following invitation:


            The Lord himself ordained this holy sacrament. He commanded His disciples to partake of the bread and wine, [emblems of] His broken body and shed blood. This is His table. The feast is for His disciples. Let all those who have with true repentance forsaken their sins, and have believed in Christ unto salvation, draw near [and take these emblems], and, by faith, partake of the life of Jesus Christ, to your soul’s comfort and joy. Let us remember that it is the memorial of the death and passion of our Lord; also a token of His coming again. Let us not forget that we are one, at one table with the Lord.

            The minister may offer a prayer of confession and supplication, concluding with the following
            payer of consecration:

             Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who out of Your tender mercy gave Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption: hear us, we most humbly beseech You. Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon [Grant that, as we receive] these Your creatures of bread and wine, and grant that, as we receive them according to the holy institution of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in remembrance of His passion and death, we may be made partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood. [the benefits of His atoning sacrifice.]

            We are reminded that in the same night that our Lord was betrayed, He took bread and, when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Likewise, after supper, He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

            And so, [M]may we come before You in true humility and faith as we partake of this holy sacrament. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

            Then may the minister, partaking first, with the assistance of any other ministers present, and
            when necessary, of the stewards, administer the Communion to the people.

             While the bread is being distributed, let the minister say:

 
             The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was broken for you, preserve you blameless, unto everlasting life. Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for you.

 
            As the cup is being passed, let the minister say:
 

            The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for you, preserve you blameless unto everlasting life. Drink this, in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you, and be thankful.

 
            After all have partaken, the minister may then offer a concluding prayer of thanksgiving and             commitment. (29.5, 514.4, 514.9, 530.7, 531.2, 532.1)

 

            NOTE: Only unfermented wine should be used in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

 

 
FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

 

1.  These minimal changes, rather than a completely new ritual, allow us to keep a viable (though brief) ritual for our people, easily accessible in the Manual.

 2.  These minimal changes bring us closer in line with Jesus’ own wording as well as with Wesley and a Wesleyan sacramental theology and, thus, with many of our sisters and brothers in the larger   
Wesleyan/Methodist tradition.

3.  The change includes a recovery of the ancient epiclesis (invocation of the Holy Spirit) upon both the congregation and the bread and cup.  This recovery is something that has taken place throughout many denominations.

General Assembly Resolution Concerning the Article of Faith on Baptism


XII. BAPTISM                                                                         12.

 

 XII. Baptism

                12. We believe that Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament and means of grace 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., 21.1(7) & 514.9.

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

4.  Such a change is 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 Concerning the General Superintendents


GENERAL SUPERINTENDENTS                         CHAPTER III, GENERAL GOVERNMENT, G.
                                                                                  The General Superintendents (above 306)

 
G. The General Superintendents*


*(The general superintendents fulfill for us the episcopal office referred to as bishops in other Wesleyan/Methodist denominations)

 
FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.  When Phineas Bresee used the term general superintendent, he understood that it was the Methodist term for bishop.  The term was used to describe the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in their Discipline, and was used by Wesley for Coke and Asbury.  They understood the terms to be interchangeable. Nevertheless, this footnote would provide a more clear understanding when relating to other denominations.

2.  This footnote does not change our use of the term general superintendent.  However, it does provide a more biblical and traditional term that can help us understand our current term, which is often found in the corporate, rather than ecclesial world.  It may also help us to realize that the “general” in general superintendent is a geographical term relating to the scope of the superintendency, rather than a title of (military type) rank.

 3.  This footnote changes nothing at all concerning the duties and powers of the general superintendents.

General Assembly Resolution Concerning Deacons & Elders


DEACONS/ELDERS                                                                      514.9, 504, 531.1-2, 531.4, 532, and 532.1
 

514.9. Administer the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper at least once a quarter.  Pastors are encouraged to move toward a more frequent celebration of this means of grace.  A licensed minister who has not complied fully with the provisions of 530.7 (see also 802) shall arrange for the administration of the sacrament by an ordained [minister] elder.  Consideration should be given for extending the Lord’s Supper to homebound persons, under supervision of the pastor.

504.  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.  (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.  Ministerial training and ordination are normally required, or greatly desired, to fulfill these categories as an “assigned minister.” 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.

531.1.  [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.

531.2.  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 assist the elder in the distribution of the Lord’s Supper, to officiate at marriages where the laws of the state do not prohibit,  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.  (30.2[, 514.9-514.10])

531.4.  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.

532.  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.

532.1  [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.  (30-30.4, 32, 513-14.3, 514.9-514.10, 536.12)

 
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 holds 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 is stated as such in the reports of the ecumenical dialogues between the World Methodist Council (of which the Church of the Nazarene is a member) and the Anglican Communion, 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. 532.1 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 Christian Church universal, but is very difficult to maintain when the deacon, according to par. 531.2, may also preach, and when we are a part of a tradition that involves lay preachers (cf. par. 503.1).

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 Assebmly Resolution Concerning the Article of Faith on The Lord's Supper


XIII. THE LORD’S SUPPER                                                                         13.

 
XIII. The Lord’s Supper

                13. 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, 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., 21.1(7) & 514.9.  

 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 Concerning the Ritual for Infant Baptism


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 signifies [for this young child] the prevenient nature of God’s gracious acceptance of this young child within the community of Christian faith.  It anticipates his (her) personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ.


The earliest and simplest statement of Christian belief, into which you now bring this 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 may be made parenthetically by the presiding clergy, good rituals do not state what we do not believe (especially as an opening statement in the ritual).  Rather, good rituals state 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 provides clarity as to the prevenient nature of God’s gracious acceptance the child within the community of Christian faith signified in baptism.

6.  The above resolution is more closely in line with Article of Faith XII. Baptism, paragraph 12, 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 does not provide such an opportunity for those whose belief in Article of Faith XII is understood in a consistent fashion with John Wesley’s own beliefs.

General Assembly Resolution Concerning the Church Government Flow Chart


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, 513-521

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 Concerning Baptism and Membership


                                MEMBERSHIP/BAPTISM                                                                             23, 107, 801

 
Article II. Local Churches

                23. 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. Local Church Membership

                107. Full Membership.  The full membership of the local church shall be composed of all persons who have been organized into a local church 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.  The local church leadership shall seek to place every member into a ministry of service and a circle of care and support. (23, 30.4, 107.2 111, 113.1, 515.1, 519, 530.8, 536.8-536.9)
             

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 and the community of faith, the Church.

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 12, 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 23, which states that they must declare “. . . their beliefs in our doctrines . . .”

6.  The FIRST of our General Rules in V. The Covenant of Christian Character  (par. 21) 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 “Nazarene.”

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 14 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 Concerning the Biblical Support of Stewards


                           STEWARDS/SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT                                                             138.2
 

138.2.  To provide assistance and support for the needy and distressed. A biblical role of lay leaders is that of ministering in areas of practical service ([Acts 6:1-3;] Romans 12:6-8).  Therefore stewards should offer their time and spiritual gifts in acts of service, administration, encouragement, mercy, visitation, and other ministries. 
 

FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.  The seven people listed in Acts 6:1-6 have historically been understood to be the first deacons.  This understanding is found within our own Wesleyan tradition, as demonstrated in the ecumenical reports of the World Methodist Council (of which the Church of the Nazarene is a member).  And, since the Church of the Nazarenes ordains deacons, the Acts 6 passage is better used to support our understanding of ordained deacons, rather than as an example of lay leaders.

 

2.  The Romans 12 passage is sufficient support of the biblical role of lay leaders ministering in areas of practical service.

General Assembly Resolution on The Superintendency and Ordination


SUPREINTENDENCY/ORDINATION                                                                307.4, 536.5

 

 

 

307.4.  Have discretionary power to ordain, or appoint other[s] elders (preferably another general superintendent, general superintendent emeriti or retired) to ordain, those who have been duly elected to be elders or deacons. (314.1, 320, 536.5-536.6) 

 

536.5  The candidate elected to the order of elder or order of deacon shall be ordained by the laying on of hands of the general superintendent and ordained [ministers] elders with appropriate religious exercises, under the direction of the presiding general superintendent. (307.4)

 

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
      general superintendency (cf., the “Foreword,” and par. 22.2, 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 as elder.  The power to ordain is found within the order
      of elders. This is seen in 2 Timothy 1:6, which, referring to Timothy’s ordination, says, “For this
      reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my
      hands;” (NRSV), and most especially in the parallel passage of 1 Timothy 4:14, which says, “Do
      not neglect the gift that is in you which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of
      hands by the council of elders” (NRSV, emphasis mine).  This is also why it has historically been
      the presbytery (i.e., elders, rather than deacons) who have joined the bishops (i.e., general
      superintendents) in the laying on of hands.
 
  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 and wholly inconsistent with the historic Christian and Wesleyan and Nazarene
       understanding of ordination.