The First and Second General Assemblies

The First and Second General Assemblies

H. Orton Wiley was Herald of Holiness editor when the Church of the Nazarene celebrated its Silver (25th) Anniversary in October 1933. On the key week, the Herald appeared with a silver cover. Throughout 1933, Wiley generated interest by publishing stories on how the Nazarene work began in different parts of Canada and the U.S.

Also, he commented frequently on the approaching anniversary, noting that future Nazarenes might be puzzled that the founders chose the second general assembly, and not the first, as the denomination's anniversary date. The founders knew that knitting the denomination together from its smaller regional parts was not a single event but a process.

The First General Assembly (Chicago, October 1907) and the Second General Assembly (Pilot Point, October 1908) were its boundaries, as three regional denominations merged in two separate assemblies. But smaller accessions also occurred between the two boundaries: people from the Holiness Association of Texas joined in April 1908, and the Pennsylvania Conference of the Holiness Christian Church merged in September, a month before the Pilot Point assembly.

John W. Goodwin, Phineas Bresee's right-hand helper and immediate successor as general superintendent, made a perceptive observation about the first and second general assemblies. While the gathering at Pilot Point was convened as the denomination's "Second General Assembly," it functioned for all intents and purposes as an adjourned session of the First General Assembly.

Stan Ingersol is manager of the Nazarene archives at the International Headquarters of the Church of the Nazarene.