Welcome to the website of the North Florida District, Church of the Nazarene. We came into existence in 1973 when the Florida District was divided into three separate geographical districts for our denomination, and today we are a family consisting of some 50 churches stretching across the northern part of the state from Jacksonville to Pensacola, and as far south as New Smyrna Beach on the Atlantic Coast and Homosassa on the Gulf Coast.
The Church of the Nazarene has its earliest roots in the Wesleyan Revival of 18th century England, directed chiefly by John Wesley, his brother Charles, and George Whitefield, all clergymen in the Church of England. From this spiritual awakening men and women turned from sin and were empowered for the service of God, and it was a forerunner for a similar awakening that carried over to America, primarily in New England as described by the pastor-theologian Jonathan Edwards.
Among Wesley’s distinctive contributions was an emphasis on entire sanctification, a life of holiness, as God’s gracious provision for the Christian believer. British Methodism, which resulted from the Wesleyan Revival, began disseminating this theological emphasis worldwide through their missionary enterprise. In the 19th century a renewed emphasis on holiness began in the Eastern United States and spread throughout the nation. A central figure of this renewal was Phoebe Palmer of New York City, leader of the Tuesday Meeting for the Promotion of Holiness, and included Methodist bishops, educators, and other clergy.
The holiness revival spilled outside the bounds of Methodism. Charles G. Finney and Asa Mahan, both of Oberlin College, led the movement in Presbyterian and Congregaltionalist circles, as did William Boardman. Baptist evangelist A. B. Earle was among the leaders of the holiness movement within his denomination, and Hannah Whitall Smith, a Quaker, published The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, a classic text in Christian spirituality.
In October 1895, Phineas F. Bresee, Methodist minister, along with a Methodist layman, Joseph P. Widney, M.D., and about 100 others, organized the Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles. At the outset they saw this as a church that would preach the reality of entire sanctification received through faith in Christ. In the ensuing years a number of other holiness groups joined with Bresee. Today the Church of the Nazarene dates its official beginning as1908 when two major holiness groups merged in Pilot Point, TX. We are now a denomination in 155 countries worldwide, numbering close to 2 million members. And our emphasis upon biblical holiness remains our clear and distinctive doctrine.