Site selected for 2009 General Assembly
Kansas City-The General Assembly Site Commission has selected the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, as the site for the 2009 General Conventions and Assembly. This adjustment in location commitment for 2009 became necessary due to planned demolition and construction projects of convention center space in Indianapolis. Several other cities - inside and outside of the U.S. - were researched for viability to host the quadrennial events. Consideration was given to criteria such as availability of event dates, demographics of Nazarene constituency, function space, accommodations, and local infrastructure.
Orlando has committed one million square feet of complimentary space to the Church of the Nazarene for the 2009 events. The area surrounding the convention center offers a wide range of hotel accommodations and food service opportunities.
Although this denominational gathering is being moved from the mid-continent U.S. in 2009, there are great opportunities for international delegate and visitor access in Orlando. The location also provides wonderful options for families to attend the quadrennial events and General Assembly in one of the great destination cities of the world.
The Site Commission discussed a Centennial Celebration for the Church of the Nazarene and other exciting event redesigns for 2009. The Commission also voted to return to Indianapolis in 2013 contingent on the completion of their convention center expansion and new facilities.
The 2005 quadrennial events in Indianapolis drew approximately 30,000 Nazarenes from all over the world.
General Assembly continues to serve as the "supreme doctrine-formulating, lawmaking, and elective authority of the Church of the Nazarene" (Manual, 131). The General Assembly and auxiliary conventions (Sunday School Ministries, Nazarene Youth International, and Nazarene Missions International) convene every four years, bringing together Nazarenes from around the globe. Components of this quadrennial gathering are various, including: legislative sessions (election of general church leadership and ratification of resolutions), worship services, exhibits, workshops, service projects, and fellowship. While voting is restricted to officially elected delegates, participation in the events of the General Assembly and Conventions is open to everyone.
--General Secretary's Office
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Mason to oversee two U.S. districts as superintendent
Kansas City-Gregory D. Mason was appointed to the office of superintendent for the Mississippi and Louisiana Districts. The action was taken by General Superintendents J. K. Warrick and James H. Diehl with approval by the Board of General Superintendents and in consultation with the Mississippi and Louisiana District Advisory Councils. The appointment will be effective February 1, 2006.
NCN News has learned from a meeting with the combined District Advisory Councils of the Mississippi and Louisiana districts, that the districts will retain their individual status, complete with their own ad judicatories, advisory boards, and entities such as Sunday School Ministries, Nazarene Youth International, and Nazarene Missions International, among others.
While the precedent for such action exists in districts outside the U.S., this action represents an effort by General Superintendents Warrick and Diehl to provide a unique leadership opportunity. Both districts have congregations that experienced devastation due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Congregations on these districts have been models of selfless compassion and points of grace to a devastated region.
The districts will continue to function as individual districts retaining their unique identities, but sharing a common district superintendent.
Mason has pastored the Pekin, Illinois First Church of the Nazarene since 1998. His history of ministry also includes pastorates in Wisconsin and Kentucky. Mason attended Mount Vernon Nazarene University where he received his degree in Business Administration before attending Nazarene Bible College and Trevecca Nazarene University.
--BGS, NCN News
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NDR, Nazarenes spread Christmas cheer to hurricane survivors
Slidell, Louisiana-"The smiles and the gleam in those children's eyes were a blessing," shared Nazarene Disaster Response (NDR) National Director Steve Creech as he witnessed a hurricane survivor's family seeking help at Slidell's Nazarene church. "A father brought his two children in, asking for help to be able to give something to his children for Christmas. Bonnie, the pastor's wife at Slidell, took the children over to a stack of shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts donated by Denver First Church of the Nazarene. When they were told they could each choose a box, their faces just lit up."
The Slidell Church has already distributed boxes to 50 children.
For many people in places in the southeastern U.S. like Slidell, New Orleans, Gulfport, Long Beach, Pahokee, and a hundred places in between, this will be their most memorable Christmas ever as they reflect on the 2005 hurricane season. While the news media is slowing down reports on the Gulf area, NDR is more committed than ever to help these victims recover and get back on their feet.
Many Nazarene churches are spreading Christmas cheer in the devastated communities. The Pearl River, Louisiana church took some of their funds from the hurricane recovery effort and organized a toy drive for the local children. More than 400 children were brought to the church where they were each allowed to choose two toys for their Christmas.
Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, Inc. and NDR donated $10,000, the Baton Rouge church contributed $2,000, and together they teamed up with the Citihope organization to spread even more Christmas cheer. Nine hundred boxes of food and 1,800 canned hams were purchased. The food and hams were distributed among the Mobile First and Bayou La Batre churches in Alabama, Crossroads church in Mississippi, and in Louisiana both Pearl River and Slidell churches each received 150 boxes of food and hams. Creech, George Sisler, and two Citihope volunteers traveled across the three states making the deliveries.
As of December 1, NDR has had more than 6,000 volunteers on site at disaster areas in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
"There is no way that we can ever express our gratitude for their love and concern for others," stated Creech. "Many have given sacrificially to help others in their time of need; many more have prayed and lifted up the needs of the victims and the recovery workers. Thanks to a caring, compassionate church, this Christmas will be memorable to thousands of disaster victims. Not because of the storms, but because of the love of Christian people too numerous to count. Nazarenes are making a difference!"
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Former Los Angeles DS Paul Benefiel passes away
Sugarloaf, California-Paul W. Benefiel, pastor, long-time district superintendent, and former member of the General Board, passed away on December 17 due to complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 80.
Benefiel was a graduate of Pasadena College (now Point Loma Nazarene University). He completed master's degrees in religion (PC/PLNU) and sociology (University of Southern California), and received an honorary doctorate from PLNU. His ministry was focused mostly in the Southern California area where he pastored the Wilmington, Brea, Pomona First, and Los Angeles First Churches of the Nazarene.
His leadership in the pastoral ministry, as well as on the district, was characterized by his love for people and his commitment to mission, especially the cross-cultural mission of the church. He served as district superintendent of the Los Angeles District for 17 years, during which time approximately 30 new congregations were started among immigrant and minority populations. New models for multi-congregational churches were developed under his leadership.
Over the years, he served the Church of the Nazarene in numerous capacities, including district NYPS (Nazarene Young People's Society) president, youth camps director, adjunct professor of sociology (PC/PLNU), chairman of the Board for Casa Robles missionary retirement home, chairman of the board for PLNU, and General Board member.
He is survived by Pearle (Andersen), his wife of 57 years, five children and their spouses; Ron and Janet (Windoffer) Benefiel, Brenda and David Gleason, Randy and Diane (Curry) Benefiel, Leiza and Roger Privett, Bryan and Lori (Gastineau) Benefiel, and 13 grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned for 11:00 A.M. on January 21 at the Pomona First Church of the Nazarene in California. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be sent to the Paul W. Benefiel Scholarship Fund at Nazarene Theological Seminary.
--NCN News with Ron Benefiel, NTS president
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Restoring a Generation
A Point Loma adjunct professor gives voice to the voiceless victims of underage sex trafficking
San Diego-A lone man attempts to look casual as he strolls down the dirt road, feeling like an imposter in his native land. It is nighttime, but he is in a well-lit area where the hustle and bustle of evening commerce is just beginning to pick up. He has visited this area a few times before to gather evidence and it is always an uneasy feeling. He is confident in what he is about to do, yet deeply saddened by the necessity to do it. As he approaches tonight's destination, a small shack crammed between two similar shanties, his pulse quickens and his mouth goes dry. Over and over in his mind runs the simple prayer, "Please Lord, let this be the last night she has to endure such atrocities."
In a neighboring city, 200 yards outside of the red light area, two people in a white sports utility vehicle (SUV) await a phone call from a friend, their partner, telling them the mission is over and he is safe. They are eager to see the footage of the events that will unfold tonight, caught on tape by a tiny video camera placed on the walking man's chest. As he nears his destination, a woman approaches him, pointing and yelling with anger on her face -- he has been caught and the cover blown. A crowd begins to form around the woman. People are yelling, pushing, grabbing.
The confrontation escalates. The man attempts to hide the tiny camera on his shirt while hastily retrieving his cell phone. He placed a call to his partners in the van for help. A woman lunges at him just as the SUV speeds up to rescue him. The man's partners jump out, pull him into the car and attempt to take off and escape the crowd that has grown to more than 300 people. Rocks are hurled, shattering all of the windows of the vehicle, and sometimes hitting the men. They escape, but they did not get what they came for. They will not stop until they do.
"When you start affecting the brothel keeper's commerce, you come under fire," said Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) Adjunct Professor Bob Goff, as he recounted this incident. "This is something I expect as a lawyer, but I think I should expect this even more as a Christian lawyer who is challenging the status quo in red light areas of India."
Goff and his team have increasingly come under fire by brothel owners and their thugs in the last few months after getting involved in one of the most heinous social injustices of our time, underage sexual servitude.
Goff is a poster child for American success: an attorney in San Diego, a father of three, and a devoted husband. He maintains a successful law practice and teaches class at PLNU each autumn.
He is also the recent founder of Restore International, a social justice organization that rescues and rehabilitates children forced into prostitution, while seeking prosecution of the perpetrators. Instead of merely funding the organization and continuing his routine, Goff actively participates. In fact, he was one of the men in the SUV who received a phone call from his distressed partner. And even as he sits in his office with a beautiful view of the San Diego harbor out the window, Goff bares scrapes on his arms. They are reminders that this issue isn't really as far away as one would like to believe.
Several missions were occurring on the particular night described. One goal was to gather evidence about a girl, "Kristina." Kristina is a minor girl working in one of the local brothels. She services up to 20 men a day for roughly one dollar per customer. Kristina sees very little of her paltry earnings because she was sold into sexual prostitution by her family for the equivalent of $40 (U.S.).
Underage prostitution is rampant in many parts of India. A huge demand for sex and a lenient law enforcement system has resulted in the flourishing trade of buying and selling girls. Once the girl is sold to a particular brothel keeper, she becomes a virtual slave of the industry. She is beaten, threatened, verbally abused, and forced to have sex with many men every day.
Enter Restore International. Goff had assembled a team of investigators, police liaison officers, advocates, and local legal professionals to locate minor girls and use the legal system to rescue them. After he and his team do the investigative work, they plan with the local police and coordinate raids on a brothel to rescue the minors. The girls are then placed in the government remand homes initially and later transferred to permanent quality aftercare homes. Restore International provides counseling to the girls and assists local advocates who will help navigate the criminal case through the courts. The organization has purchased land recently and, with the assistance of a local tea factory, is working to build a sustainable income to support a rehabilitation center for the girls.
Since its inception 12 short months ago, the team has investigated and assisted in raiding a brothel that resulted in the rescue of 17 minors and the arrest of their perpetrators. They have also helped eliminate funding to an organization called Sangrum, through its associated entity VAMP, an organization that was receiving U.S. funds intended for HIV awareness. The organization was, in fact, comprised of the brothel owners themselves.
Goff's vision is to empower others to do what he has done: break from the mundane and do something to make a difference in the world. In a word, he hopes his life will inspire others to do.
"I want people to get up and do whatever it is that God has purposed in their hearts," said Goff. "Maybe they work with us. If so, great! But, maybe they don't. My prayer is that our story will inspire people to do something about their God given passions -- to live boldly for Christ."
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At least two Nazarene churches using Chronicles of Narnia to connect with communities
Fredericksburg, Virginia-With the popularity of the recently released film based on C.S. Lewis' book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, at least two Nazarene churches have seized a very special opportunity for connecting the Good News with film-goers. ncnnews.com.
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