Church of the Nazarene Denomination

Overview of the Church of the Nazarene

Church of the Nazarene
Church of the Nazarene world ministry headquarters in Lenexa, Kansas. Americasroof / Creative Commons

The Church of the Nazarene is the largest Wesleyan-Holiness denomination in the United States. This Protestant faith sets itself apart from other Christian denominations with its doctrine of entire sanctification, John Wesley's teaching that a believer can receive God's gift of perfect love, righteousness and true holiness in this life.

Number of Worldwide Members

At the end of 2009, the Church of the Nazarene had 1,945,542 members worldwide in 24,485 churches.

Founding of the Church of the Nazarene

The Church of the Nazarene began in 1895 in Los Angeles, California. Phineas F. Bresee and others wanted a denomination that taught complete sanctification through faith in Jesus Christ. In 1908, the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America and the Holiness Church of Christ joined with the Church of the Nazarene, marking the beginning of unification of the Holiness movement in America.

Prominent Church of the Nazarene Founders

Phineas F. Bresee, Joseph P. Widney, Alice P. Baldwin, Leslie F. Gay, W. S. and Lucy P. Knott, and C. E. McKee.


Today, Nazarene churches can be found in 156 countries and parts of the world.

Church of the Nazarene Governing Body

An elected General Assembly, Board of General Superintendents, and General Board govern the Church of the Nazarene. The General Assembly meets every four years, setting doctrine and laws, subject to the church's constitution. The General Board is responsible for the denomination's corporate business, and the six members of the Board of General Superintendents oversee the church's global work. Local churches are organized into districts and districts into regions. Two of the church's main activities are global missionary work and supporting the denomination's colleges and universities.

Sacred or Distinguishing Text

The Bible.

Notable Church of the Nazarene Ministers and Members

Current and former Nazarenes include James Dobson, Thomas Kinkade, Bill Gaither, Debbie Reynolds, Gary Hart, and Crystal Lewis.

Church of the Nazarene Beliefs and Practices

Nazarenes hold that believers can be sanctified wholly, after regeneration, through faith in Jesus Christ. The church accepts traditional Christian doctrines, such as the Trinity, the Bible as the inspired Word of God, the falleness of man, atonement for the whole human race, heaven and hell, resurrection of the dead, and the second coming of Christ.

Services vary from church to church, but many Nazarene churches today feature contemporary music and visual aids. Many congregations have three weekly services: Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. Nazarenes practice baptism of both infants and adults, and the Lord's Supper. The Nazarene church ordains both male and female ministers.

To learn more about the beliefs taught by the Church of the Nazarene, visit Church of the Nazarene Beliefs and Practices.

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