Genesis of the Nazarene District

Genesis of the Nazarene District

In 1904, Phineas Bresee appointed Harrison D. Brown of Seattle as superintendent of the Northwest District comprising the states of Washington and Oregon. This was the first district, and Brown was the first district superintendent, in the Church of the Nazarene.

Bresee had known Brown in Iowa in the 1870s and early 1880s when both were Methodist ministers there. Like Bresee, Brown had been a district superintendent in the Methodist Episcopal Church, so as the office of district superintendent was introduced to Nazarenes, Bresee was confident that Brown would exercise it well and earn it respect. He was not disappointed.

The Nazarene district differed from the district in the Methodist Episcopal Church in an important respect. The Methodist district existed primarily to define the particular list of churches that a district superintendent would lead. But the real unit of governance was "the conference," which typically included five or six districts. It was the conference that met annually, examined and approved ministerial candidates, and elected delegates to the church's General Conference.

The Nazarene district, on the other hand, combined the Methodist conference and district into a single, solid entity, streamlining the denominational structure in the process.

Stan Ingersol is manager of the Nazarene archives.

Holiness Today, November/December 2004