Saturday, June 25, 2005

NAZARENE CONVENTION LEGACY

THEY'RE BACK! Every four years, in what amounts to a denomination-wide homecoming, representatives of the Church of the Nazarene gather for their General Assembly and auxillary conventions (world missions, youth, and Christian education). They've been coming back to Indianapois quite frequently; this is their third visit in sixteen years. It's the largest multi-day convention of any kind that comes to Indy...and we welcome lots of conventioners.

NAZARENE--AND BEYOND. My heritage is in the Church of the Nazarene, but I now serve in the Free Methodist Church--a sister denomination. As a former Nazarene (or is that "post-Nazarene," or "Nazarene expatriate?"), I have childhood, college, seminary, and parish friends who come to town and we enjoy renewing our fellowship during these days. It feels a bit strange, however, to walk through the RCA Dome and Convention Center--wall-to-wall with Nazarenes--as a "non-Nazarene." But Wesleyan and spiritual roots go deeper than organizations and labels. I am aware of many original Nazarenes who have found vibrant communities of faith and communion connections outside the Naz since college days.

LEAVING A LEGACY. This week, the Indianapolis Star reported on the Many Hands, One Heart initiative--a volunteer action project that has become a growing part of the Nazarene General Assembly event since 1988. That year, I was pastor of Shepherd Community and helped, along with Dean Cowles, to organize the first youth volunteer service event--it involved nearly 2,000 youth; this year, over 100 inner-city homes are being repaired and improved by volunteers. The Nazarenes set the standard for religious conventions that come to town. More than leaving their dollars at hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues, they leave behind a legacy of sweat equity and community care.

1 comment:

  1. SANS PRESIDENT. Several weeks ago a friend told me that Church of the Nazarene officials were actively negotiating with the Bush Administration for an appearance by the President at the Sunday morning worship/communion service at the RCA Dome. My friend--and apparently many like him--was very concerned. Many voiced their strong opposition to the possibility of the U.S. President making political or religious statements at this international religious gathering, particularly at a time of a controversial war and American foreign policy. I viewed an online petition that was gathering a significant number of signers. For whatever reason, Nazarene officials quickly abandoned plans for the appearance. Perhaps they--and all Christian organizations--are better off without governmental blessings or political pandering. One would also hope that American Nazarenes do not necessarily represent a partisan voting block. And, perhaps by saying "no" to political grandstanding, the Nazarenes can establish another positive legacy for other religious conventions in Indy and other places.

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