Jim L. Bond: Seeking the Lordship of Christ
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Retiring General Superintendent Jim L. Bond's whole career has gifted the Church of the Nazarene with peace, diplomacy, and a commitment to Christ.
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Holiness and experiencing a holy life. Those are the watchwords of the Church of the Nazarene, and General Superintendent Jim Bond has lived them out in his quest to bring everything under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Bond first rose above the crowd as a hometown high school basketball star. Yet personal stardom was not his goal in the sport—he was a team player. Besides, he had other aspirations. He was already preaching regularly, and was active year-round in church youth work. Bond's decision to attend Pasadena College (now Point Loma Nazarene University) significantly impacted his life. He was impressed with the humility of college president, W. T. Purkiser, and with H. Orton Wiley's longing for each generation to experience a real revival. The combination of Christian faculty and friends, ideas and dialogue, broadened his godly inclination to appreciate people as individuals, to listen, and to honestly confess failings. During college, Jim Bond was again a basketball star, being chosen twice for the "All-American" team by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). He played to win, but he also played under the Lordship of Christ—leading a sportscaster to label him "Gentleman Jim." Later in his life, Bond would be inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame as a result of his character and achievement on the basketball court. Through his college years, he struggled over what would be his first love. His commitment to the court was threatening to become dominant when Jesus said, "Give me the basketball." Bond surrendered the ball. After college, Jim Bond graduated with honors from Nazarene Theological Seminary. From that point on, the theme of his life has been to call people to make Jesus their life's leader. Dr. Bond and his wife Sally and their children, Jimmy and Cristina, pastored churches in Kansas, Wyoming, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Colorado. The Bonds also spent two years serving as missionaries in Brazil. He was also elected president of Nazarene Young People's Society (now Nazarene Youth International), and later became chaplain and professor of theology at Nazarene Bible College. Bond always sought the inner voice of God's leading, and made no major decision in his adult life without prayer and fasting. In 1980 he was called to serve as Assistant to the President for Church Relations at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), and from there was elected president of the university in 1983. The first meeting of the faculty with their new president changed the school. The college had seen some hard years, and many faculty members were apprehensive. Dr. Bond came to the front of the group, took off his sport coat and laid it aside. In that one act, he laid aside any contrived claims of superiority. Throughout his presidency he was transparent in his dealings. His leadership brought healing to a weary campus. A Christian college is a delicate place. Students change as they bring their thoughts to the flowing traffic of ideas. Besides students, parents, pastors, teachers, administrators, alumni, and donors all have their different opinions on matters concerning the campus. Bond's goal was to find Christ-centered ways to deal with issues of debate, calling on all groups to embrace honesty. He brought patience and respect to committee meetings, and a means of deepening faith through new Office of Spiritual Development and the Wesleyan Center for 21st Century Studies. The summer of 1997 brought change, as Jim Bond was elected general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. "I didn't even bring a dark suit," he quipped in surprise when he learned of his election at the general assembly. Since then, as Bond has presided at assemblies around the world, his towering presence and commanding sermons about living graciously and generously have caused him to be well-loved by the global church. During his time as general superintendent, Bond became concerned about confusion arising from a century-long theological disagreement in the church on the doctrine of entire sanctification. His passion to reignite the movement of scriptural holiness around the world inspired Bond to call on theologians to develop a new consensus on sanctification, giving it clarity in a 21st century world. Now retiring as general superintendent, Dr. Bond will continue to serve the church as leader of its new Thought Partners, an effort launched by the Board of General Superintendents to engage critical issues facing the Church of the Nazarene in a new century. That's a good choice, and good for us. Ron Kirkemo is professor of political science at Point Loma Nazarene University. Holiness Today, May/June 2005
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