Church of The Nazarene

An international denomination largely the result of the merger of approximately fifteen religious groups originating from the nineteenth-century Wesleyan Holiness Movement and whose organization, within the USA, took place at Pilot Point, Texas, in 1908. Originally called (in 1907) the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, the term “Pentecostal” was dropped from the title in 1919 due to its association with “speaking in tongues,” a practice not in favor with its members.

The Church of the Nazarene began in the British Isles in 1906 through the ministry in Glasgow, Scotland, of George Sharpe, a native of Lanarkshire, who had been profoundly influenced by the Holiness Movement while in the United States. Originally called the Pentecostal Church of Scotland, it united with the Church of the Nazarene in the USA in 1914 to give birth to the vision of an international holiness communion. Congregations were founded throughout the USA by 1933 in a program of extension, and in the following thirty years 2,812 churches were founded worldwide. Where Methodism had flourished in the nineteenth century in the USA, the Church of the Nazarene flourished in the twentieth. A vigorous missionary program involved forty-two overseas fields. The Church of the Nazarene places great emphasis on Christian education in local churches, operates a publishing house, a theological seminary, several theological colleges, a number of liberal arts colleges, and numerous mission schools and hospitals.

The Church of the Nazarene combines congregational autonomy with superintendency in a representational system. Its governing body is the church assembly which meets every fourth year in the USA. In its major emphasis of entire sanctification as a work of grace following conversion, it stands firmly in the Wesleyan tradition. An emphasis is placed on tithed giving, and its members are bound by a Manual of General Rules which binds them to renounce alcohol, tobacco, the theater, the cinema, the ballroom, the circus, and also lotteries and games of chance. The members are also required to renounce “the profanity of the Lord's Day, either by unnecessary labor or business or . . . by the reading of Sunday papers or by holding diversions.”

See T.L. Smith, Called Unto Holiness (1962) and J. Ford, In the Steps of John Wesley (1968).