Origin and History

The Origin and History of the Church of the Nazarene

We want you to know a little more about where we came from.  We will not go into a lot of names and dates concerning our history since those will not mean much to you at this point.

The Church of the Nazarene was born in a revival.
The Church of the Nazarene came into existence as a result of a revival (a renewal of religious fervour) which swept across North America in the nineteenth century.  It came to the U.S. from a powerful religious movement which started in England under the preaching of John Wesley and other.

During the revival there was an emphasis on the experience of entire sanctification.  Where God's love, God's Spirit, or holiness so fills a Christian's life that there is a radical strengthening and growth in their relationship to God.  Never replacing our salvation at the cross of Jesus but graciously revealing to us the need for a total surrender or consecration of our life and will to that of God's.

Independent groups unite.
As a result of the revival mentioned above a movement was born that resulted in a number of independent groups that sprung up in different parts of the U.S. which shared the same beliefs.  Through a process lasting several years, these groups began to come together and unite in their commitment to propagate these beliefs.  It was in the year 1908 when a series of groups representing all parts of the U.S. finally merged to form a nation-wide denomination.  One of these groups was from the West Coast.  It was called the Church of the Nazarene  It was founded by Dr. P.F. Bresee as a mission to the poor in Los Angeles.  In the meeting where the groups voted to merge into one body, it was decided to adopt the name Church of the Nazarene for the newly united group.

What does Church of the Nazarene mean?
Jesus grew up in the town of Nazareth.  As His popularity grew and he traveled across other parts of Israel, He was often referred to as 'the Nazarene' which simply means 'the man from Nazareth.' (see Mt 2:23, Mk 14:67, 16:6; Ac 24:5).  To say 'Church of the Nazarene' is simply a unique way to say the 'Church of Jesus Christ'  It was chosen to distinguish our denomination from various others that use the term 'Church of Christ' in their names.

The development of the Church of the Nazarene.
Since the day of our birth in 1908, the church has grown to around 1,500,000 members, and continues to grow daily.  While the church started in the U.S, more than half of our membership now exists in the 138 world areas to which missionaries have been sent.  We are presently the largest of the denominations identified as holiness groups.