“I believe our present circumstances may very well present our greatest opportunity for renewal and revitalization—as we connect with and reflect on the rich and diverse stories of our founding and shaping.”

-Dr. Jesse C. Middendorf, former General Superintendent, Church of the Nazarene (from foreword in Nazarene Roots)

About the Stories to Tell: A National Conference on Our Nazarene Heritage & Mission

Why do Nazarene Pastors and Church Leaders Need a History Conference?
All of us who minister today on behalf of the Church of the Nazarene stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Whether we know it or not, their stories have shaped and formed us. Knowing their motivations and how they understood the call of God in their lives helps us better understand God’s call on us today.

Our Nazarene Story is Really Many Stories
“Stories to Tell: Our Nazarene Heritage and Mission” will look at many of the forebears who played a vital role in shaping Nazarene faith and life and help attendees get a better understanding of their denominational family. The stories of our past, when taken together, form our story. Come and learn the many stories that caused the Church of the Nazarene to preserve an apostolic ministry inclusive of women, be active in ministry to the needy and the unreached, and carry out a mission to the world.

Our Story Is Essential to Nazarene Identity and Mission
We hope pastors, church leaders, educators, and students will benefit from this conference’s exploration into the Nazarene past and the important people, ideas, and themes that continue to shape and impact our denomination. Part of this conference’s conviction is that memory of our past is essential to Nazarene identity and mission. While not everything in our past is worth advancing, knowing our heritage allows us to carry forward the parts of our tradition that need to be kept alive.

Why hold a Nazarene History Conference Now?
In 1984, forty years ago, the last Nazarene history conference was held in Kansas City. The slate of speakers and participants included some of the church’s best and brightest historians and scholars (such as Timothy L. Smith, Paul M. Bassett, Harold Raser, Mildred Bangs Wynkoop, Carl Bangs, and others). The goal of the event was to improve our historical self-understanding, encourage the collection and use of archival materials, and stimulate fellowship among those interested in Nazarene history. Through the years, such needs have only increased.

Last year, The Nazarene Historical Society officially formed and discussions soon ensued about the need for a national conference that would help pastors and church leaders grow deeper in their knowledge and appreciation of the Nazarene past. The idea of a conference on the fortieth anniversary of the last Nazarene history conference seemed a fitting tribute to the many historians, archivists, librarians, and others who have sacrificed to keep our historical memory alive. While the focus of this conference is primarily on early Nazarenes in North America, we hope to hold history conferences in the future that incorporate a more global representation and perspective.

Nazarene Theological Seminary is pleased to host this event in association with The Nazarene Historical Society. In addition, the Nazarene Archives is also participating as a significant partner.

About the Nazarene Historical Society
The Nazarene Historical Society is an independent society of historians, archivists, librarians, pastors, and friends interested in the preservation, cataloging, and interpretation of the history and heritage of the Church of the Nazarene.

About the Nazarene Archives
The Nazarene Archives is a unique collection of sources documenting the history and life of the Church of the Nazarene. Its materials form a vital link in the church’s collective memory.

Time and Location of Stories to Tell:
The conference officially opens at 1:00 pm (Central Time) on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, and closes at 5:00 pm on Thursday, April 18, 2024. The conference is located at Nazarene Theological Seminary (1700 E. Meyer Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64131, USA). To register, click here.

Lifelong Learning Hours
Nazarene ministers can earn 10 hours of lifelong learning (nine main sessions and one lunch session) by attending Stories to Tell. Your lifelong learning code is #48437. 

Schedule of Events

TIME AND LOCATION OF THE STORIES TO TELL CONFERENCE:
The conference officially opens at 1:00 pm (Central Time) on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, and closes at 5:00 pm on Thursday, April 18, 2024. The conference is located at Nazarene Theological Seminary (1700 E. Meyer Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64131, USA). To register on Zoom Events, click here.

Note: The conference website will be updated periodically with new information, so check back periodically.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2024

Pre-conference Event:
9:00 am to 11:00 am – Nazarene Cemetery Tour (with Dr. Stan Ingersol, former denominational archivist for the Church of the Nazarene, and Dr. Ryan Giffin, current denominational archivist for the Church of the Nazarene). Questions about the cemetery tour may be directed to [email protected].

Registration, Check-in, and Opening of Exhibit Area:
11:00 am – On-Site Registration (opening of exhibit area and NTS book sale). Pick up your free book (Nazarene Roots or Phineas Bresee: Pastor to the People), get your name tag, and conference booklet.

Lunch on your own

1:00 pm – Main Session #1:  History is Not the Past: The Catalyst & Purpose of Nazarene History (Steve Hoskins), Chapman Chapel

2:30 pm – Main Session #2: Writing and Preserving Our Histories (panel discussion including Andy Wood, Ryan Giffin, and Steve Hoskins), Chapman Chapel

3:45 pm – Main Session #3: Who’s in your Nazarene Hall of Fame? (panel discussion), Chapman Chapel

Dinner provided at 5:15 pm

6:30 pm – Main Session #4: Hiram Reynolds & the Contribution of Women to Nazarene Missions (Mary Lou Shea), Chapman Chapel

THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 2024

8:00 a.m.  Breakfast (on your own)

9:00 am – Main Session #5: A Historical Survey of Pastoral Ministry in Church of the Nazarene (Jim Fitzgerald/Brad Estep), Chapman Chapel

10:30 am – Main Session #6: Nazarene Hymn Sing, Chapman Chapel

Lunch provided (Chick-fil-A)

12:00 pm – Mini-Lunch Session #1: Reclaiming the Love Feast as a Spiritual Practice (Dirk Ellis), Chapman Chapel

12:20 pm – Mini-Lunch Session #2: Nazarene Folklore and the Myths that Refuse to Die (Stan Ingersol), Chapman Chapel

1:00 pm – Main Session #7: A History of Black Nazarenes in America (Roger Bowman, Chet Bush, Andy Wood, and others), Chapman Chapel

2:30 pm – Main Session #8: Nazarene Biographical Sketches: Uncle Buddy Robinson, Mary Lee Cagle, and C.W. Ruth (Abram Book, Stan Ingersol, and Tom Miles), Chapman Chapel

3:45 pm – Main Session #9: Nazarene History Q&A and Wrap-up Session, Chapman Chapel

5:00 pm – Conference Adjourned

Dinner (on your own)

Main Sessions & Speakers

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2024

1:00 pm – MAIN SESSION #1: HISTORY IS NOT THE PAST: THE CATALYST & PURPOSE OF NAZARENE HISTORY (Steve Hoskins)
This keynote address speaks to the themes and hopes of the conference and how Nazarene history can restore our hope for the future by exploring the riches of our heritage.

Dr. Steve Hoskins is professor of Church History in the School of Theology and Christian Ministry at Trevecca Nazarene University and is publishing an anticipated book on the history of the Church of the Nazarene. He is on the board of directors of The Nazarene Historical Society, and also serves on the board of the Wesleyan Theological Society.

2:30 pm – MAIN SESSION #2: WRITING AND PRESERVING OUR HISTORIES (Panel discussion including Andy Wood, Ryan Giffin, Steve Hoskins, and Gelien Matthews)
In this session, historians and archivists will discuss how churches and districts can preserve and organize their records, write their histories, and develop a denominational “culture of preservation.”

Dr. Andy Wood is a historian and professional archivist for the Center for the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) Heritage. He has a PhD in history from Auburn University and wrote his dissertation on B.F. Haynes, the first editor of the Herald of Holiness. Andy is also on the board of directors of The Nazarene Historical Society, and is a member of the Wesleyan Theological Society.

Dr. Ryan Giffin serves as the Manager for the Nazarene Archives. He contributes to denominational publications on matters of history and is currently writing a short history of the Kansas City District. Prior to this, Ryan served for many years as a senior pastor in Kansas. He has a PhD in biblical studies from Asbury Theological Seminary.

Dr. Steve Hoskins is professor of Church History in the School of Theology and Christian Ministry at Trevecca Nazarene University and is publishing an anticipated book on the history of the Church of the Nazarene. He is on the board of directors of The Nazarene Historical Society, and also serves on the board of the Wesleyan Theological Society.

Dr. Gelien Matthews serves as lecturer and Head of the Department at the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine campus). She is the author of The Church of the Nazarene in Four of the Windward Islands: St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, and Dominica 1978 – 2010, published by Westbow Press. She has also authored a history of the Church of the Nazarene in Trinidad and Tobago. She holds a PhD in Economic and Social History at the University of Hull in England.

3:45 pm – MAIN SESSION #3: WHO’S IN YOUR NAZARENE HALL OF FAME? (Steve Hoskins, session moderator)
While a few early founders and shapers come easily to mind as candidates in a Nazarene hall of fame, this session will introduce you to noteworthy Nazarenes you may not know or have even considered. Come and hear various conference participants share their hall of fame list and their reasons for inclusion, such as General Superintendent T. Scott Daniels (on video), Nazarene theologian Tom Noble (on video), Klaus Arnold, director of Global Education and Clergy Development, and Eddie Estep, Kansas City District Superintendent.

6:30 pm – MAIN SESSION #4: HIRAM F. REYNOLDS & THE CONTRIBUTION OF WOMEN TO NAZARENE MISSIONS (Mary Lou Shea)
Many people are aware of the immense contribution of Hiram F. Reynolds as a denominational and missions leader, but a neglected story in Nazarene missions is the work and sacrifice of women (both at home and abroad) who enabled, extended, and animated the Church of the Nazarene’s efforts in foreign missions.

Dr. Mary Lou Shea taught Church History and Missions at Eastern Nazarene College for a decade. She holds a PhD in the history of Christianity with a specialization in Christian Mission from Boston University School of Theology. Mary Lou is the author of In Need of Your Prayers and Patience: The Life and Ministry of Hiram F. Reynolds and the Founding of the Church of the Nazarene.

THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 2024

9:00 am – MAIN SESSION #5: A HISTORICAL SURVEY OF PASTORAL MINISTRY IN THE CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE (Jim Fitzgerald/Brad Estep)
This session will explore the history of the pastoral office and pastoral ministry in the Church of the Nazarene and convey insights for pastoral ministry today. NTS President Dr. Jeren Rowell and Dr. Vicki Copp will respond to the two presentations and facilitate a brief Q&A.

Dr. Jim Fitzgerald serves as the chair for the School of Theology and Ministry and Associate Professor at Southern Nazarene University. Prior to this, Jim served for 29 years in pastoral ministry in Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas. He has a PhD degree in Homiletics and American Church History from Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Brad Estep has served as a senior pastor for over 30 years, and is currently at Sun City (AZ) Church of the Nazarene. Brad has a PhD degree from Union Theological Seminary and wrote his dissertation on baptismal theology and practice in the Church of the Nazarene. He is the author of Plain Truth for Plain People: Sermons for the Christian Year from the Wesleyan Tradition

10:30 am – MAIN SESSION #6: NAZARENE HYMN SING
Join us as we sing many of the grace-filled hymns that have shaped and nurtured Nazarene faith and life. Hear various Nazarene leaders discuss the music that has elevated their spirits and reinforced important theological and spiritual convictions.

1:00 pm – MAIN SESSION #7: A HISTORY OF BLACK NAZARENES IN AMERICA (Roger Bowman, Chet Bush, Andy Wood)
In this session, Roger Bowman will share on video brief reminisces of three notable second generation Black Nazarene leaders: Warren Rogers, R.W. Cunningham, and Clarence Bowman. After this, Chet Bush will discuss the pastoral ministry of Dr. Charles Johnson, a long-time pastor and civil rights leader, and Andy Wood will discuss a new history of Black Nazarenes in America that will debut later this year, published by NTS Press. In addition, former General Superintendent Jerry Porter and Dr. Charles Tillman, Black Ministries Facilitator for the Church of the Nazarene, will respond to the session presentations.

Dr. Roger Bowman is the former district superintendent of the Los Angeles District. A long-time pastor, Roger served the denomination as one of the first Nazarene missionaries in the USA/Canada in the Southeast Region, as well as director for Cross-Cultural Ministries and urban and ethnic ministries coordinator. He also served as a professor at Nazarene Bible College. Roger is the author of Color Us Christian: The Story of the Church of the Nazarene among America’s Blacks, published in 1975.

Dr. Chet Bush is  a historian, writer and pastor in the Church of the Nazarene. Dr. Bush recently returned from a Fulbright Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, where he researched the role of Jerusalem in the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the author of Called to the Fire: A Witness for God in Mississippi, The Story of Dr. Charles Johnson.

Dr. Andy Wood is a historian and professional archivist for the Center for the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) Heritage. He has a PhD in history from Auburn University and wrote his dissertation on B.F. Haynes, the first editor of the Herald of Holiness. Andy is also on the board of directors of The Nazarene Historical Society, and is a member of the Wesleyan Theological Society.

2:30 pm – MAIN SESSION #8: NAZARENE BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES: UNCLE BUDDY ROBINSON, MARY LEE CAGLE, AND C.W. RUTH (Abe Book, Stan Ingersol, and Tom Miles)
In this session, three scholars share brief biographical sketches of notable early Nazarenes and their varied and significant contributions to denominational culture and life.

Dr. Abram Book is assistant professor in the communication studies and modern languages department at Southeast Missouri State University. Dr. Book holds a PhD from Regent University and is the author of a forthcoming book on Nazarene evangelist and writer, Bud (“Uncle Buddy”) Robinson, which will be published later this year by Integratio Press. He attends Cape Church of the Nazarene in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and is the son of a retired Nazarene pastor.

Dr. Stan Ingersol served for over 36 years as the denominational archivist of the Church of the Nazarene before retiring in 2022. He is the author of Past and Prospect: The Promise of Nazarene HistoryNazarene Roots: Pastors, Prophets, Revivalists, and Reformers, and also contributed to the denominational history, Our Watchword and Song: The Centennial History of the Church of the Nazarene.

Rev. Tom Miles has served for many years as an adjunct professor of church history at Nazarene Theological Seminary. He is on the board of directors of The Nazarene Historical Society, and is an elder on the Southwest Indiana District. Tom is a graduate of Nazarene Theological Seminary and has done doctoral studies at Southern Methodist University. Tom is also a member of the Wesleyan Theological Society.

3:45 pm – MAIN SESSION #9: NAZARENE HISTORY Q&A AND WRAP-UP SESSION
In our final session, a panel of historians and archivists respond to questions gathered from pastors, church leaders, and students about the Nazarene past.

5:00 pm – CONFERENCE ADJOURNED

Lifelong Learning Hours
Nazarene ministers can earn 10 hours of lifelong learning (nine main sessions and one lunch session) by attending Stories to Tell. Your lifelong learning code is #48437. 

Pre-Conference, Special Lunch Sessions, and Historical Exhibits

On-site participants can take advantage of these conference offerings:

PRE-CONFERENCE NAZARENE CEMETERY TOUR WITH DR. STAN INGERSOL, APRIL 17, from 9:00 to 11:00 am.

On-site attendees may participate in a guided tour of two local cemeteries in which many notable Nazarenes are buried. The tour will be facilitated by Dr. Stan Ingersol, former denominational archivist of the Church of the Nazarene, and Dr. Ryan Giffin, current denominational archivist for the Church of the Nazarene, who will share their knowledge and insights about Nazarene leaders and the Nazarene presence in Kansas City.

We will visit these two cemeteries:

  • Forest Hill Cemetery (6901 Troost Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64131) is the resting place of Haldor (1885-1959) and Bertha Mae (1889-1945) Lillenas. Haldor Lillenas was the founder of Lillenas Music and the author of many hymns used in Nazarene worship, such as “Wonderful Grace of Jesus.”
  • Green Lawn Cemetery (8251 Hillcrest Road, Kansas City, MO ) is the resting place of several notable Nazarenes, such as Edgar P. Ellyson and R.T. Williams, the third and fourth general superintendents, as well as  Hugh C. Benner, former general superintendent and the first president of Nazarene Theological Seminary.

Click here to view a list and description of notable Nazarenes buried at each cemetery. 

When you register for the Nazarene Cemetery Tour, please indicate if you will need a ride to and from the tour back to Nazarene Theological Seminary.

NTS USED BOOK SALE (You won’t find these prices anywhere else!)

Conference attendees will be able to participate in a large used book sale that will take place in the NTS Library prior and during the conference. Books are priced at .50 cents (softcover) and $1.00 (hardcover). The book sale features many books and commentaries that will be of interest to pastors and other clergy. NOTE: The NTS Library can hold your purchases until the end of the conference.

SPECIAL LUNCH SESSIONS ON APRIL 18 FOR ON-SITE PARTICIPANTS

On-site attendees may attend one or both mini-lunch sessions offered on April 18. Please indicate when you register which session you wish to attend (so we have an idea of participation). These session are during lunch, so you may eat in the Chapman Chapel while you listen to one or both presentations.

Note: On the Zoom registration form, indicate which Chick-fil-A option you prefer for lunch. You will need to get your lunch and then proceed to Chapman Chapel to listen to the presentations, which will take place in this order, beginning at noon.

  1. Reclaiming the Love Feast as a Spiritual Practice (Dirk Ellis)
    John Wesley adopted the love feast as a Methodist practice and many Nazarene forebears who descended from Methodism, such as Phineas F. Bresee, retained this practice in the early Church of the Nazarene. Dr. Dirk Ellis, author of Holy Fire Fell: A History of Worship, Revivals, and Feasts in the Church of the Nazarene, makes the case for reviving this worship practice as a means of grace for Nazarenes today. A brief Q&A will follow the presentation.
  2. Nazarene Folklore and the Myths that Refuse to Die (Stan Ingersol)
    Former Nazarene archivist and historian, Dr. Stan Ingersol, reports on some of the continuing Nazarene falsehoods that won’t go away quietly. A brief Q&A will follow the presentation. Find out if Phineas F. Bresee really smoked a pipe.

HISTORICAL EXHIBITS AT THE STORIES TO TELL CONFERENCE

The Nazarene Archives, a special partner of the event, will bring artifacts, as well as special materials to distribute for on-site conference participants. NTS and the Nazarene Historical Society will develop displays of historical interest to attendees (more on this later on). In addition, a Nazarene source book will also be given to attendees.

HEAR “UNCLE BUDDY” ROBINSON PREACH ON APRIL 18!

Conference attendees have an opportunity to hear history come alive! NTS student and local thespian Quinn North will portray Bud “Uncle Buddy” Robinson in a short dramatic monologue during Main Session #8. Bud Robinson became the early Church of the Nazarene’s best-loved evangelist and columnist. Come and hear Bud share about his sanctification experience. After this presentation, Dr. Abram Book will share about the preaching of Bud Robinson and his masterful use of the storyteller’s art.

How to Register and Costs for Stories to Tell

TO REGISTER
Stories to Tell: A Conference on Our Nazarene Heritage and Mission is using Zoom Events for conference registration. Please click here to register now.

You can participate in Stories to Tell in two ways: in-person and online via livestream.

THE EARLY BIRD COST FOR ON-SITE PARTICIPATION IS $69 (which includes two meals, and access to both lunch presentations on day two, as well as a pre-conference Nazarene Cemetery Tour).

While supplies last, all in-person early bird registrants will receive one free book (on-site at check-in). You may choose from Nazarene Roots by Stan Ingersol or Phineas Bresee: Pastor to the People by Carl O. Bangs.

On-site registrants may also attend the Nazarene Tour of Cemeteries pre-conference event at 9:00 am on April 17 with Dr. Stan Ingersol (interested persons may visit the “Pre-Conference and Special Sessions” tab for more information). Sign up on the Zoom registration page, if you are interested. 

THE EARLY BIRD COST FOR VIRTUAL REGISTRANTS IS $49, which gives online participants access to all nine main sessions (but not the two lunch sessions or the pre-conference Nazarene Cemetery Tour).

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION IS OPEN FROM NOW UNTIL FEBRUARY 29.

Nazarene districts that sponsor 15 or more attendees may contract us for discounted rates. Email us at [email protected] or by phone at 816.547.2298. We will post information next week about our district rates.

NOTE: On March 1, prices will increase to $89 for on-site participation and $69 for livestream/online participation. 

Lifelong Learning Hours
Nazarene ministers can earn 10 hours of lifelong learning (nine main sessions and one lunch session) by attending Stories to Tell. Your lifelong learning code is #48437. 

Lodging and Meals

Stories to Tell will provide two meals to on-site attendees, dinner on Wednesday (with Taco Cacao) and lunch on Thursday (with Chick-fil-A). All other meals are on your own. Indicate on the Zoom Events registration page your meal preferences for the two meals (gluten free options are available).

The conference will provide free coffee service, as well as light snacks. Speciality coffees will be available at a cost.

There are a variety of meal options close to Nazarene Theological Seminary within walking distance (mostly fast-food) or within a short drive.

There are a variety of lodging options close to Nazarene Theological Seminary.

Lodging Options Within 5 Miles: (Click on links for more details)

Exhibitors and Sponsors

The Stories to Tell conference will include a wide-range of vendors/exhibitors/Nazarene ministries at the conference. Exhibitors can expect to engage with a variety of Nazarene pastors, church leaders, and students. We are also looking for ministries interested in sponsorships to increase their brand exposure and an opportunity to connect with conference attendees. Find out how by working together, we can advance history and your ministry.

Interested exhibitors, sponsors, or donors may email [email protected] or call at 816.547.2298. There will only be 10 exhibitor slots available, so reserve yours soon!

“The Church of the Nazarene is among us now and it our hope that in recording the various stages through which it has made its appearance and arrived at its present state of development we shall prove that “there is a cause.”

—Dr. J.B. Chapman, former general superintendent
(from A History of the Church of the Nazarene by J.B. Chapman)

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