Historical Statement

Toward a Global Church

The Church of the Nazarene had an international dimension from its beginning. By the uniting assembly of 1908, Nazarenes served and witnessed not only in the United States and Canada, but also as missionaries in the Cape Verde Islands, India, Japan, Mexico, and South Africa—living testimony to the impact of the 19th-century missions movement upon the religious bodies that formed the present-day Church of the Nazarene.

Expansion into new areas of the world began in Asia in 1898 by the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America. The Pentecostal Mission was at work in Central America by 1900, in the Caribbean by 1902, and in South America by 1909. In Africa, Nazarenes active there in 1907 were recognized as denominational missionaries at a later date.

Subsequent extension into the Australia-South Pacific area began in 1945 and into continental Europe in 1948. In these instances, the Church of the Nazarene entered by identifying with local ministers who already preached and taught the Wesleyan-holiness message: A. A. E. Berg of Australia and Alfredo del Rosso of Italy.

In developing a global ministry, the Church of the Nazarene has depended historically on the energies of national workers who have shared with missionaries the tasks of preaching and teaching the word of grace. In 1918 a missionary in India noted that his national associates included three preachers, four teachers, three colporteurs, and five Bible women. By 1936 the ratio of national workers to missionaries throughout the worldwide Church of the Nazarene was greater than five to one.
The global areas where the church has entered reached a total of 159 by 2013. Thousands of ministers and lay workers have indigenized the Church of the Nazarene in their respective cultures, thereby contributing to the mosaic of national identities that form our international communion.