Gustavo A. Crocker delivered the annual Board of General Superintendents' Report during the 92nd Session of the General Board on 22 February in Overland Park, Kansas, USA.
Crocker's report, titled "Celebrating God's Grace—Anticipating God's Renewal," was enthusiastically received by the members of the General Board, officers, Global Ministry Center directors and staff, regional directors, Nazarene Publishing House leaders, and guests.
BOARD OF GENERAL SUPERINTENDENTS TO THE
92ND GENERAL BOARD
CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE
22 February 2015
“Celebrating God’s Grace— Anticipating God’s Renewal”
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalm 117, NIV)
On behalf of the Board of General Superintendents (BGS) and with the psalmist’s exhortation of “praise,” I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is an honor to represent my colleagues in presenting our annual report to the 92nd General Board Session of the Church of the Nazarene.
We welcome each one to this plenary meeting and thank you for representing your respective region and the 2.3 million Nazarenes of our international holiness communion. Many General Board members have come great distances, and we are grateful for traveling mercies.
There is much to know about a General Board Session. What is most important?
First, it is our desire to personally and corporately experience the presence of God through the Holy Spirit in our times together. The Church of the Nazarene is a church of the Holy Spirit and prayer.
We must be under the leadership of God’s blessed Spirit in who we are, what we say, and what we do. The Holy Spirit not only guides us, but He also checks us in our role as spiritual leaders. It is through prayer and God’s Word that we stay attuned to that “still small voice.”
Second, by God’s grace, we are able to report on and be accountable for the church’s ministry in the past year. Our report is really that of the entire church, and while our focus is broad and general, we do not lose sight of the fact that this report is the aggregate of the mission of God. It is being expressed and carried forward by every Nazarene in every local church in 159 world areas.
Many years ago the songwriter penned, “He has done great things,” and the Bible says, “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24, NIV).
There is no question that the Lord is doing great things through the Church of the Nazarene.
Third, from their unique perspective, it is the responsibility of the general superintendents to offer an assessment of the fulfillment of the church’s mission around the world. While this is not the only perspective, it is one that is specifically assigned to the BGS for ecclesiastical supervision of the denomination (Manual paragraph 306).
As General Superintendent David Busic reminded us in last year’s report, God works in a “season,” which He has made (Daniel 2:21). It is up to us to know the times and seasons in order that our programs, plans, and methods are up to date with His will and way.
May He be glorified in what we have to report and celebrate about His church.
How much work does it take to organize a General Board Session? It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of teamwork.
Our appreciation goes to General Secretary David Wilson and his staff, who make sure everyone is well cared for in the meetings and accommodations. Thank you, Dr. Wilson, Susan Metcalf, Diane Miller, Shirley Marvin, and others—including the translators—who labor faithfully on our behalf to organize this event.
Thanks also to Renée Rotz and the BGS office staff, who work closely with the general superintendents to prepare for each General Board Session, and to the Global Ministry Center staff for their expertise in organizing the committees and gathering extensive documentation for this time of accountability.
THE NAZARENE LEGACY—
GOD’S PURPOSE FOR THE NAZARENE FAMILY
What is a legacy?
For those of us engaged in ministry to and with people, a legacy is “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past” (Merriam-Webster).
If this is an accurate definition, what is the Nazarene legacy, and how should it be celebrated?
With generational transition sweeping the Church of the Nazarene, it is important to remember a legacy of faith and a life of holiness left by those who went before us—and be willing to share that faith and holy lifestyle with those who become part of the Nazarene family.
Deuteronomy 6:5–7 (MEV) says:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I command you today, shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
We are standing on the shoulders of pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries, and lay leaders who are part of the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 11), those who preceded us and who faithfully laid the foundation for the Church of the Nazarene that we celebrate today.
Similarly, as disciples of Christ, called to be His people for our generation, we need to constantly ask ourselves the question, “What will our spiritual legacy be?”
o When our children ask fathers in times to come, “What do these stones mean?” will we be able to let them know that at just the right time God parted the waters so the Church of the Nazarene could pass over on dry ground? (Joshua 4:22)
o Will we be able to tell them that our church was ready and preached the word “in season and out of season”? (2 Timothy 4:1–22)
o Like Paul, will they write about us that we fought a good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith? (2 Timothy 4:6–8)
What should we celebrate at the 92nd General Board Session?
We celebrate the local church.
There is no general or district mission without the local mission. In a General Board setting, it is easy to look past our pastors and congregations and focus only on general ministries; however, the local church is the reason we are here and can be here.
Local churches make it possible to have a General Board, General Assembly, and Global Ministry Center. They make it possible to have a district and a district superintendent. They make it possible to have missionaries and national leaders.
Today we celebrate the local church, “the representation of our faith and mission” (Manual, Part IV, Preamble).
We celebrate 100 years of Nazarene Missions International (NMI).
Nazarene Missions International will be 100 years old in October 2015. As the heart of the missionary intention of the Church of the Nazarene, NMI has always been at the forefront of the church—inspiring, educating, praying, and supporting the missionary enterprise of our denomination. This centennial celebration is no exception.
In May of 2014, NMI announced more than 1,400 initiatives for its 100th Anniversary Project.
Last fall leaders from throughout the denomination—JESUS Film Harvest Partners, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, the Church of the Nazarene's International Board of Education, and districts, fields, and regions—envisioned a series of initiatives they would like to see accomplished in their areas.
A wide variety of ideas were submitted and processed by the NMI team. Each district was encouraged to meet the needs of another district by adopting one of the initiatives listed and providing funds to complete the sponsored project by October 2015.
While the support of these initiatives is exciting and meaningful, the ongoing engagement of NMI is truly evident in the way in which it promotes the missionary sending efforts of our Global Mission Office. Last year alone the Church of the Nazarene sent and supported 702 missionaries (global, regional, and volunteer) to accompany the local church in fulfilling our mission, “To Make Christlike Disciples in the Nations.”
We celebrate NMI, the “heart and voice” of Nazarene missions.
We celebrate caring Nazarenes.
We live in a world that is constantly impacted by human and natural calamities. While others act as mere spectators of the daily news, the Church of the Nazarene, a compassionate church, is always there to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need and in despair. The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus is one such example.
The Ebola epidemic, entering its tenth month, has left a devastating impact on local families and communities in West Africa. It has taken the lives of Nazarenes who were our brothers and sisters in Christ, including Joe Sonkpah, pastor of the Grace Chapel Church of the Nazarene in Liberia. He passed away 10 October 2014, just days after his wife, Hannah, perished from the same disease.
We mourn the loss of each life.
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 8,000 people have died, and more than 21,000 people have been infected with the disease.
The Church of the Nazarene continues to respond with compassionate care and service. Through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, led by Larry Bollinger and a committed staff that partners with local congregations, we are providing education programs, prevention and hygiene supplies, food, and vitamins.
We celebrate the Christlike love Nazarenes continually display bringing hope to those facing devastation and loss.
We celebrate 70 years of Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS).
Education Secretary H. Orton Wiley urged the church to plan for the establishment of a central theological seminary of graduate rank.1 Nazarene Theological Seminary was authorized at the 1944 General Assembly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. The location would be in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. The new institution opened its doors in September 1945.
There were at least two additional champions of NTS: General Superintendent J. B. Chapman and Nazarene Young People’s Society (NYPS).
The first president of NTS was Hugh C. Benner, with financial support in the beginning days from Nazarene Publishing House.
NTS has graduated nearly 6,000 students in seven decades. It continues to serve the church and the broader Wesleyan community through an expanded global presence and partnerships, which include other Nazarene schools.
Under the leadership of the current president, Carla Sunberg, the NTS Board of Trustees recently voted to remain in Kansas City, a decision that is consistent with the purpose of the school to prepare leaders for their generation.