Thoughts from pastor Troy
“We [the church] are a mess, but I love it.”
These were the words spoken by Dr. J.K. Warrick in his final sermon before his retirement as a General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene. Warrick was speaking of his love for the church and how, despite its many flaws, the Church is the light of the world, called to bear witness to the loving reign of God in the world.
LFCN is part of a worldwide movement called the Church of the Nazarene. Nazarenes minister in 162 world areas through local congregations, hospitals, schools, colleges, and compassionate ministry centers. We are truly part of a connected and global church.
Every four years, 30-40,000 elected clergy and lay delegates and visitors from around the world gather for General Assembly: a time of worship, connection, equipping, and making critical decisions about how we will articulate our theology and best structure our global church for mission in an ever-changing world.
The days included the work of the Assembly delegates working through many resolutions that cover everything from structural changes to updated position statements and adjustments in wording to our Articles of Faith. Having an elected delegation from 162 world areas representing countless cultural backgrounds try to work through resolutions in various languages is “messy,” but I love it! In fact, some of the decisions made at this particular Assembly have me more hopeful than ever to be a part of the Church of the Nazarene. Here’s a recap of some of the big ones, at least in my book:
1) Election of two new General Superintendents
With the retirement of Drs. Warrick and Porter, Dr. Carla Sunberg and Dr. Filimao Chambo were elected as the two new General Superintendents to take their place. This is exciting on many fronts. Both have earned doctorates in biblical studies/theology, are multilingual, and have served in leadership in various capacity. In addition, the election of a woman and an African increase the diversity of our leadership, affirms the role of women in ministry, and better reflects the global nature of our church!
2) The Sacrament of Holy Communion
A resolution was passed which better articulates our Wesleyan understanding of the sacraments as outward signs that convey inward grace. We are now more clear in saying that Communion is a “means of grace” in which “Christ is present.” The liturgy includes the Lord’s Prayer and wording that now more clearly focuses on Christ’s life, sufferings, resurrection, and the hope of His coming again. In other words, we are moving away from understanding Communion as simply a memorial of Jesus and more toward a sacrament, a healing encounter with the Living Christ through the Spirit. This is the historic Wesleyan perspective.
3) Human Sexuality
A resolution on human sexuality was passed with a 97% vote. This resolution was the fruit of four years of work from theologians, pastors, educators, and leaders. The resolution is much better than what preceded it and instead of focusing solely on homosexuality and marriage it now offers a more comprehensive treatment of sexuality in general, including the affirmation of the goodness of the body, rejection of sexual violence, and an affirmation of singleness. I don’t think the statement is perfect but what I liked most about it was the change in tone. It is positive, with an eye toward the redemptive grace of God at work in our bodies and even of our sexuality. And, it is just an incredible move of the Spirit to have such a diverse community be able to dialogue with love about such complex issues.
Some will believe it is too conservative. A few will see it as too progressive. A majority will likely believe we’re on the right track. As for LFCN, we will continue to welcome all who are seeking God and point them toward Christ, who is the only hope for any of us!
A resolution was passed which strengthens our language about what we believe about human dignity, including language of repentance and humility when it comes to our complicity in any forms of racism and injustice. In a world so often divided, it is refreshing and hopeful to hear us affirm our commitment to peace, reconciliation, and justice. Now, for us to live it out…
Watching and participating in a global church, just like a local church community, is messy, but I love it!
I’d love to dialogue further about any of these or other resolutions or any questions in general. Feel free to call/text me or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.