The beginnings of the Church of the Nazarene can be traced to the revival movement following the Civil War known as “the Great Awakening.” The central thrust of this great revival was the fullness of god’s powerful love. Dwight L. Moody heard a young man preach for six nights in a row on John 3:16. Moody’s reaction was, “I never knew up to that time that God loved us so much. This heart of mine began to thaw out. I knew I could not keep back the tears. It was like news from a far country; I just drank it in.” The nation was drinking in the perfect love of God.

Evangelist Moody, while holding a meeting in Chicago in 1871, was approached by two godly women who announced that they were praying for him. Moody exclaimed, “Why don’t you pray for the people? I am all right.”

To this they answered, “You are not all right. You do not have power.”

Moody was upset by this at first, but in time he began to desire the powerful love these women were praying for. Later he gave his testimony: “They continued to pray for me; the result was that at the end of three months, God sent this blessing upon me, and I could not for the world go back to where I was before 1871.”

As a result of this revival, many existing denominations grew and flourished, while many other Bible colleges and universities were born. Also, new denominations were formed, the largest of which was the Church of the Nazarene.

Many groups teaching the doctrine of heart purity and holiness began to spring up all over the nation, with the one in Los Angeles being perhaps the most influential. This group was the first to be known as “Nazarenes” named after Jesus, the lowly Nazarene. It was led by a former Methodist Bishop named Phineas F. Bresee. Because of their exuberant style of worship they were mocked and called, “Noisy-renes”, often being included as a point of interest on various guided tours of the city.

Union of the many groups was discussed over a period of several years until the Church of the Nazarene was officially organized in Pilot Point, Texas on October 13, 1908.

From earliest days, the Church of the Nazarene has sought to allow the Holy Spirit to guide in all matters. Some of the characteristics of the Church of the Nazarene have been:

  1. Thoroughly democratic in government.
  2. The chief aim of the church was to preach the gospel of holiness.
  3. The discipline of the early church was dependent primarily upon the work of the Holy Spirit.
  4. The church was characterized by a spirit that was joyously free.